I write because I have to. The characters and stories are in my head and won’t give me any peace until I’ve written them. And the push I need to keep going after writing many books is the feedback from readers saying how much they have enjoyed them — it makes all the work worthwhile.
How did you come to writing?
Sometimes I’m not sure if I came to writing or writing came to me. My aunty and uncle used to buy the American Saturday Evening Post, which published some incredible short stories, and when we would visit I would read them. One edition had The Answer by Philip Whylie, and it was such a compelling story that I knew that one day I wanted to write stories like that. Stories that drew me in and created another world for me. I begged my aunty to let me have the magazine and I still have that story in my ‘memory box’.
What were your greatest obstacles starting out? How did you overcome them?
Distance and expense — definitely the greatest obstacles a regional writer faces. At that time, only the capital cities offered writing workshops. The cost of travel, accommodation and workshop fees had to be worked into the family budget. Luckily I have a supportive husband.
How do you keep yourself motivated and disciplined?
Gosh, if I knew that I’d do it. Having a deadline is the greatest motivator of all.
How do you manage your writing time with everything else you do? How has that changed from when you were starting out?
My husband retired three years ago and my productivity has dropped drastically. But that’s okay. Sort of . I still want to write as much as I used to, but 2am finishes are now a thing of the past (ah, youth, why didn’t you tell me you wouldn’t last). And it’s only fair that after the support my husband has given my writing career over the years that I now give time back to him to share and enjoy.
Where do you write? How do you arrange your working space?
I have an office. It often descends into chaos. I sometimes wonder if I feel comfortable in chaos rather than neatness but neatness might mean I have nothing to aspire to.
What are your essential writing tools?
My computer! My handwriting is terrible and when I take notes I have to remember to try to be neater otherwise I won’t have a hope of reading them back.
What’s the one thing you wish you’d known when you were starting out as a writer?
I wished I’d known other writers. It was so difficult when I was a teenager as there was no Queensland Writers Centre and no writers clubs that I knew of. It’s no wonder my writing went on hold for many, many years.
What do you read and how do you read as a writer?
I read any story that appeals to me, no matter the genre. But now that I’m an author I find it hard not to analyse and mentally edit when I read. It has to be a darn good book before I start reading like a reader and not pick it to pieces.
How do you overcome ‘writer’s block’?
Go for a walk. Preferably on the beach. Do brainstorming with writer friends. Sometimes they come up with crazy ideas but it makes my mind jump off the one-way track that was blocking my ability to see further and allows it to look at other possibilities.
What one piece of advice would you give to aspiring writers?
A lot of authors say writing is 5% inspiration and 95% perspiration, but I believe it’s 5% inspiration, 5% perspiration (haven’t they heard of air-conditioning?) and 90% determination. Writers can suffer many setbacks in the course of their career and they have to be able to do what that old song said, “Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again.”
Sandy Curtis believes in writing the stories her characters dictate to her, so now has seven romantic thrillers, three contemporary romances, and a women’s fiction with a chuckle or three providing entertainment for readers. She also loves sharing her experience and knowledge of the writing industry through workshops and library talks.