Lora began her writing journey aged ten – with a short story featuring an evil eyeball named Optic. Not her finest work but fortunately she kept on writing (Mills and Boon style short stories in her teens).
Lora is married with a son, a daughter, a rescue dog called Chloe and a possum that won’t go away (Chloe and the possum are often at war). She lives in the burbs of Melbourne, has a full time corporate job in Marketing, a passion for food, Harry Potter, Anne of Green Gables, coloured pencils, books books and more books, and an obsession with neatness (which is hard to come by with two kids, a dog, and a possum).
I really adored Lora’s book, Unspoken Rules. I hope you love reading her answers!
- ‘Unspoken Rules’ is basically about cultural differences. Why did you choose this topic? Is it semi-autobiographical?
Unspoken Rules is only autobiographical in its cultural setting. My objective was always to write a story with characters placed in the same cultural background I myself grew up, and to then share the richness, the restrictiveness and the beauty of it all juxtaposed against an Australian backdrop.
Due to civil unrest in Turkey in the 1980s, my family immigrated to Australia to find a safer, better life. I was still a very young child at the time and suddenly found myself in a new and exciting world. There were difficulties at school, both linguistically, culturally, and socially, and in my teens I found myself walking a swaying tightrope between the culture of my birthplace, and that of modern Australia.
Given my own background and conflicts, the topic of culture and identity and belonging is very close and personal for me.
- What is your writing process like? Do you write consistently or only when inspired?
I have a full time job in the corporate world and two young children, so sadly at the moment my writing process is more of a ‘write when I can find the time’ rather than when I’m inspired. However, there are pockets of time when I’m driving, or in the shower, or lying in bed waiting for sleep to claim me that I think about my characters, their motivations, behaviours, backgrounds and this eventually ends up in my stories.
- Can you tell me a bit about what drew you to writing in the first place?
I’m not really sure, but I do remember being quite solitary as a young child, surrounded by paper and pencils, inventing stories and characters. I have two elder sisters, both in highschool by the time I was wanting playmates, so I often found myself alone with only my imagination to keep my company. It wasn’t long before I discovered the friends I could invent myself.
- Where there any specific points at which you struggled within this novel?
The story itself came to me quite easily, but before Unspoken Rules, I’d only ever written picture book and junior fiction text, so finding my voice in the Young Adult space was new and challenging. I guess I eventually fumbled my way through and created something that I’m really proud of. I wrote this book in honour of my mother who passed away recently. A part of me believes she helped guide me through the tough parts.
- As this is your first novel, how much help did you seek or get from others?
I have a wonderfully supportive writing group with three ladies I couldn’t do without. They have helped me through every chapter, through every character arc, through every plot direction. I was also lucky enough to have an editor give me wonderful feedback which really helped hone the work, and before sending it out into the world, I approached a manuscript assessor whose advice was pivotal to the final success of this novel being picked up by Rhiza Press for publication.
- Imagining you could travel back in time and give advice to your teenaged self about writing and life, what would you tell her? And would she listen.
She’d definitely listen, so I’d tell her that to be a good writer, you have to live life, experience the world and the people in it, and practise, practise, practise and when you think you’ve finally mastered the art of writing, think again, because you haven’t. Writing is an art form that can always be honed and improved.
- Can you recommend a female author?
I love Rosalie Ham, author of The Dressmakers, Summer at Mount Hope and The Year of the Farmer. She has such a brilliant way of painting flawed, interesting, comical characters that leaves me hooked, unsure of whether I want the characters to win in the end, or lose. She’s also a master as building plot, and constructing the setting of a story, whether it be set in modern times or back in the late 1800s.
- Do you have a favourite illustrator of Children’s Books? Why?
Aleck Morton. I love his Tim Burtonesque illustrative style. Also he’s a wonderful friend of mine and about to have his first picture book publish with Yellow Brick Books.
- Can you give us a small blurb about your book, where to buy it?
NATALIE balances two lives. It’s a tenuous tightrope.
At home, her life is governed by the unspoken rules and expectations of her Christian Orthodox background. Women are expected to go to their marital beds as virgins, men aren’t. Women are homemakers and caregivers; men can run businesses, companies, and empires. His decision is final; she’s expected to comply.
Her entire school life, Natalie has walked the tightrope without tipping over, that is, until now. Until a fall out with her best friend Katelyn leaves her confused and lonely. Until her devout sister, Misha learns of her incurable illness and doubts her faith and future. Until she discovers her Mother’s terrible secret which threatens to tear their entire family apart.
And… until she meets the new boy, Chris.
Unspoken Rules is available through all online retailers including Amazon, Booktopia, Rhiza Press, Ebay, Angus & Robertson Online, Book Depository and more.