Sydney Writers' Centre interviews Australian author Favel Parrett



hi I'm Daniel from the Sydney writers Center I'm here at the Sydney writers festival with Favell Paris author of past the shallows her first book favorite can you tell us a bit about the novel sure basically it's the story of two brothers struggling to cope with with their father who is an abalone diver and he's unraveling under debt and also secrets from the past that are coming back to sort of haunt the family and it's said at the very south of Tasmania so as far south as you can go sort of the end of the world really just tell us a bit about the the two main characters Myles and Harry I think what inspired these boys well they just came to me and they're the most amazing characters that I've ever come across and I just fell in love with them and I still think about them all the time Harry probably is a little bit like my brother in that the way I feel about Harry is the way I feel about my little brother or the way I felt about him when we were young but apart from that that they're totally fictional and they're just those characters that you just I don't know where they came from but they're just magic and they just told me their story and and it worked out it was it difficult to give them up when he finished the book absolutely I am I don't write in order but the last scene I wrote was a harry scene and I was really actually physically upset and when I sent the manuscript away and I knew that was it I I wasn't writing anymore I was just gonna be editing I packed up my desk all the things on my desk that are Harry and Myles I have pictures of Tasmania and abalone shells and all sorts of things and I really was upset like I actually was crying and I couldn't go back to my studio for it was almost two weeks that I didn't go back because I just really was great it's like a grieving office it's strange feeling so how long did you spend on the novel that you've got so attached to these bodies it took me a long time I um I went back to study professional writing and editing in 2006 and I never thought I could write a novel so I was writing some shorts Dory's and in 2007 I started writing about harry and miles and I realized it was a bigger story so it took me years like three years while I was studying and I'm glad it did because the way it evolved out of water it was like problem-solving that the story came to me sort of like it does to the readers I didn't know that the answers and the end and the plot so it was it was a interesting experience you mentioned short stories you published quite a few short stories how how different is the process of a short story to a novel that's really different short stories are incredibly hard I think that because people think they're short they're easy but they're not I mean short stories can take years I can some famous short stories have taken writers years and years to get right to finish but we the short story with me I sort of know the arc of the story when I'm writing so it takes a while to get the voice the same with a novel but I do know where the story is sort of going whereas with a novel it's really just I have the characters and a place and the rest is unknown sometimes I might know a few things but not much so it's a very different process and I think really I'm probably not a very good short story writer because I I tend to just write scene so I'm good at writing scenes and that's what I'm comfortable with doing but short stories have to have an ending where something happens something meaningful happens changes in a short time so I'm not very good at endings or short stories are hard so it sounds like it's a fairly natural progression to a novel Lent I think it was amazingly so and I never would have thought that years ago but it seems to be that's the way what I'm okay because you also took part in the 2009 Australian Society of authors mentorship program what was that like and how did that impact the way you wrote and your plans really so that was the third time out of for that mentorship and I just encourage anyone to apply it's just such a fantastic program because you can choose writers to be your mentor or editors or people in the industry and I'm I was lucky enough to get a editor called Julia Stiles who was able to structurally edit my novel in very simple ways and by moving a few scenes around and suddenly the story came clear to me you're not because I was still grappling with what is that what it happens and she was just brilliant and it was just simple for her but I couldn't see it so I'm she that process I know helped me get a publishing deal because it made my story a really good story and and I was a fantastic working with a professional like at first time I've ever had a professional editor read my work and she was so encouraging and positive and it was amazing put so much work in and we didn't ever get to finish the process because I got the publishing deal because we were gonna do it all again once I'd worked on my novel she was going to read it again and go through the same process but we still keep in touch and um it's great yeah hope I get to work with her again actually so yet apply for that it's a great it's a great thing for writers yeah it sounds like it was life-changing but presumably being published has been life-changing as well what has that whole experience been like I was pretty incredible why I don't think I had any idea what it was like over the other side so I just thought my book would just sort of come out very quietly and maybe just my friends and family would buy and and and Here I am at the Sydney writers festival so it's been nerve-wracking and exciting at the same time they're sort of the same feeling those two feelings he feels through part of butterflies but it's incredible to have people read to work and a lot of I've had some good reviews and a lot of support from independent book shops and bookstores all over the place and so yeah thank you very much to them to the Indies I've even seen a couple of comparisons to Tim Winton is that a lot of pressure it's I feel really embarrassed actually because he's such a great writer we're not even in the same league he really using incredible talent and it's so nice of people to say and of course it's a massive compliment but I don't think it's true so well they've seen something in there that you know has really struck a chord with them yeah Australian life at the fringes yeah maybe just finally what is your advice to first-time writers one it's possible it's but it's really possible act like a professional you're a writer whether you're published or not you are a writer if you're writing and you're serious about your writing and you're doing the work you're a writer so say that to yourself and treat yourself take yourself seriously people that are negative about your writing or about how long you're taking or whatever you know don't listen to them just back yourself go in fit every single prize during all competition no matter how small they'll be put your work out there and get used to rejection because that's a really good way to do it and it still feels terrible when you're addicted I just got a predicted story the other day and it still ways to go oh god I'm terrible right I'm hopeless but the more you do it the easier it is to turn that story around uh send it to someone else straight away and you you'll start to notice that if it one ought to get through a year if you're sending 12 out 20 out whatever you're doing you'll start to see that things are getting through and then you can build on that so yeah that's my heart that's it's excellent advice some of the best advice we've heard actually good luck with the launch tonight and good luck with the book I'm sure it's going to be fabulous Thanks

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