Questions with Yael Maree

Yael Maree has had the privilege of living in numerous countries before settling in beautiful Melbourne.  Mother to three, she loves reading, writing and learning about language and culture. Yael enjoys reading the classics with The Count of Monte Cristo and A Tale of Two Cities amongst her favourites. She reads across most genres and enjoys works by R.E Fiest, Gabriel García Márquez, Khaled Hosseini and Markus Zusak.

Yael’s debut novel When We Vanish is a delightful tale of a relationship tested by fear, love, rejection, and the desire of two individuals to be seen for who they truly are.

When We Vanish was launched in August 2018 during the Canberra Writer’s Festival.

She’s been kind enough to answer a few questions for me, and her answers are really honest and wonderful. Enjoy!

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Tell us a bit about your latest book.

My debut Book When we Vanish was published in August 2018.  It follows a man so mundane and lost within his own life that unbeknownst to him, he becomes invisible and is one day seen by a girl so lonely that her emptiness within, mirrors his emptiness without.

When their paths cross they go on a journey of self-discovery and what they find is so much more.

The story deals with themes of our desire to be seen in this word as who we really are, and our need to be acknowledged and loved.

What was the inspiration for the story?

When I wrote this story, I had just had my third child in five years. We had just moved cross country again and I was yet to meet many new friends. With my husband working six days a week and me being nothing but mom 24 hours a day I began to feel diminished as a person, as me. And I felt like I was disappearing within my own life. I also felt lonely having no friends or adults to really be around and with the tiredness and constant feel of being drained it all felt bigger and heavier and harder. And so, I sat and wrote this story and poured out of me.

Tell us about your main character. Why should we fall in love with them?

My main Characters are Alexander and Sophie. They each struggle with their own battles. And each is trying to find meaning within their own lives. I think they are relatable and real but have been thrown into a bizarre situation where their paths align and they both suddenly need the other.

Have you always written, or is writing something you’ve come to in adulthood?

I have always written. I have notebooks upon notebooks with small snippets of work, short stories, quotes and words that I love that I have collected over many years.

What was your favourite book as a child?

As a child and even as an adult the Count of Monte Cristo

Can you recommend another female author we should read?

Margaret Atwood and Anne Rice

What was the last book you read and loved?

I have just finished Crossing the Lines by Sulari Gentill it was beautifully written, thought-provoking and wonderful, and that ending…

Do you have a favourite quote by a female author?

“I have already lost touch with a couple of people I used to be.” – Joan Didion

Tell us three fun facts about yourself, that other people might not know?

I have lived on four continents and speak four languages – three of them fluently

In my past life, I have been a hotel manager, restaurant manager, waitress, pub manager, English teacher, PT and Massage therapist with a great love for anatomy and physiology. (I’m very nomadic and can’t sit still).

I write under a pen name and have been doing so for a few years.

Do you have a favourite illustrator of children’s books? Why?

N/A – although I love the illustrations in the Grumpy bear series!

What are the best and worst pieces of writing advice you’ve received?

Best piece: always keep learning.

Worst piece: follow a certain writing rule or structure. For me, literature is art, you are given a canvass to create a masterpiece. Imagine a world where all the art is closed in by a perfect white border, where would all the great artists of our time be? You need to break the rules and explore the world beyond the canvass, splash on the floor and break the mould for only when you challenge yourself and find a way to be brave can you really create art.

What is your favourite song by a female singer, and why?

The genre I listen to is not dominated by females and although I do enjoy Arch Enemy whose vocalist is female they are not my favourite band.

Amazon book link: https://www.amazon.com.au/When-We-Vanish-Yael-Maree-ebook/dp/B07HFJGMBC/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8

what would you do if you found out you were invisible (9)

Questions with Emily Conolan

Emily Conolan is a writer and teacher, who is also known for her humanitarian work. For her role in establishing a volunteer support network for asylum seekers in Tasmania, she has been awarded Tasmanian of the Year, Hobart Citizen of the Year, and the Tasmanian Human Rights Award. The stories of courage and resilience she has heard in the course of her work with refugees, combined with tales from her own family history, inspired her to write the Freedom Finders series. Emily has never had smallpox or helped a horse give birth, but in the early 1800s, her family was bush-ranged and did help smuggle an Irish political prisoner out of Van Diemen’s Land.

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She is also (her bio doesn’t mention this), a beautiful, kind, welcoming person, who makes you feel happy just being in her presence. She even forgave me for being completely loopy on cold meds the first time we met. She is an incredible writer and a wonderful human and her answers to my questions are just lovely. Enjoy!

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Tell us a bit about your latest book. What was the inspiration for the story?

My latest two books (which came out together in April this year) are ‘Break Your Chains’ and ‘Touch the Sun’.  They are interactive fiction (they have a maze-like plot where you make the choices as you read).  They are both immigration stories: the first is a convict’s story in 1825, the second an asylum seeker’s story in 2011.  They are part of The Freedom Finders series: I’ve just finished the first draft of the third one, set in the 1950s, from Italy to the Snowy Hydro.  They’re suitable for ages 8 to 14.  My inspiration was my work with migrants as a teacher and human rights advocate.

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Tell us about your main character. Why should we fall in love with them?

It’s funny, my main characters don’t have names, because they are YOU!  The books are written in the second person, and I always am very careful not to name them.  Interactive fiction usually doesn’t assign a name or even a gender to ‘you’, but I couldn’t avoid gendering each main character because the life of, say, a boy convict was so different from that of a girl.  So, you should fall in love with them because they are YOU, and you are courageous, strong, kind, and tenacious.

Have you always written, or is writing something you’ve come to in adulthood?

Yes, I’ve always loved writing – I wrote my first book when I was four, about a cat with an electric sting in its tail who defended the home from a burglar.  Yay!

What was your favourite book as a child?

Definitely the BFG – it’s still a favourite.  When I was a teenager, I loved ‘A Cage of Butterflies’ by Brian Caswell.

Can you recommend another female author we should read?

I’ve read so many great female authors this year: the two that I will mention (because they’re also emerging and Australian!) are Margaret Morgan’s ‘The Second Cure’, a gripping and tantalising piece of speculative fiction; and Sarah Krasnostein’s ‘The Trauma Cleaner’, which is the best piece of non-fiction I’ve ever read – in fact it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read, full stop.  It’s gritty and dark, but radiates compassion.

What was the last book you read and loved?

‘Life After Life’, by Kate Atkinson.  My publisher recommended it to me, she said it’s a bit like a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ for grown-ups.  She was sort of right – in that the main character keeps dying and starting her life again from the beginning, so it has a very unusual structure… but you don’t actually get to make the choices yourself, sadly.

Tell us three fun facts about yourself, that other people might not know?

  1. Last week I made a rhubarb and raspberry sorbet, and it was AWESOME.
  2. I used to keep spiny leaf insects as pets – they look like aliens, they are so cool.
  3. I love to do Playback Theatre – it’s a type of improvised acting where audience members tell true stories from their lives, which are re-created as theatre on the spot.

Do you have a favourite illustrator of children’s books? Why?

When I was a kid, I loved Graham Base, because I could spend hours searching for clues in his drawings.  I never admired Quentin Blake as a kid because I thought his drawings were ‘scribbly’, but now I adore their vibrancy.  I also love Polly Dunbar, her style is so colourful and playful.

What are the best and worst pieces of writing advice you’ve received?

Hmm. The best can’t be boiled down to a single quote, but is contained in a book called ‘The Writer’s Journey’: it’s about mythic structure and archetypes, and it never fails to get me out of a stuck spot.  Sometimes the best advice is actually a pertinent question, like ‘what does your character want most of all?’ or ‘how can you raise the stakes in this situation?’, that provokes you to look deeper.

The worst is something along the lines of ‘keep this bit, this bit, and that bit, chuck out the rest, and re-work it into an entirely new story.’  Thanks, but I’d rather just bin the whole thing than try and do that kind of surgery.  Or any sentence that begins with, ‘I think you should write about…’

What is your favourite song by a female singer, and why?

Natalie Merchant: Which Side Are You On? It’s a song with a powerful history, written in 1931 by the wife of a union organiser who was being targeted by those in power.  It gives me shivers every time.

If you’d like to be featured in this space, send me an email at kate[at]kategordon[dot]com[dot]au 🙂

I Could Write A Blog …

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Whenever I think about blogs and blogging, I remember the quote from “Julie and Julia”.

Julie:

I could write a blog.

  
I have thoughts.

For a while there, in the 2000s and early 2010s, it felt like *everybody* had a blog. And thoughts. So. Many. Thoughts.

I even gave it a go, myself. A few times.

Because I’m a writer and *I have thoughts*. Thoughts about all sorts of things, from books to politics; from which is the best Josh Ritter song (answer: all of them, but in particular Monster Ballads), to which is the worst Megadeth song (answer: all of them. No, that’s it. Just all of them); from feminism to which gluten-free bread tastes the most like actual bread.

All the thoughts.

And yet …

And yet, when it came to putting those thoughts into blogs, I came up short, always. Whether it was impostor syndrome (“Nobody cares about your thoughts, Kate”), or the fact that, well, I’d just rather be writing my books, I just couldn’t seem to make blogging stick.

And so I quit. Not long after my daughter was born and my time-deprivation was only second to my sleep-deprivation. I just … couldn’t be arsed any more.

And, to be honest, I still can’t. Because there are enough people who can and who love it and who will do it a million times better than I ever will.

BUT I have been wanting, for a while, to find a way to help promote my fellow writers. In particular, lady writers (trans lady writers of course and always included – which should go without saying but, you know, this is the time we live in) and gender non-binary writers. Something more than just retweeting or sharing.

So … here’s my thought.

It’s a good thought, I think.

I’m going to make this space (which, to be honest, I’m not even going to call a blog. It’s just a space where there are thoughts that will mostly not be mine) a place for other people, with interesting thoughts to share.

I’m going to start off by interviewing a bunch of my friends at Wombat Books, and another bunch in the brilliant Ladybirds group. They are all incredible writers, working in a multitude of genres and media and you will love their thoughts.

I’m going to post the first one later this week. And I’m going to keep posting for as long as people want to give me the gift of their thoughts.

It’s not a blog.

It’s not my thoughts.

But I hope this will be a good place.

If you’d like to be involved and you are a lady writer or a non-binary writer, please get in touch with me at kate[at]kategordon[dot]com[dot]au.