Tales From The Authory

Tales From The Authory

Karen Brooks Tales from The Authory Ponderings Magazine

 

As someone who is fortunate enough to make a living from writing (historical fiction and a weekly newspaper and advice column), I often get asked what my writing process is like and what inspires me.

 

I wish I could say something really clever or divulge some kind of shared magic. Better still, I’d love to be able to say I sit in front of my computer in a dreamy haze, mounds of chocolate biscuits to one side, dressed in pyjamas, and let my fingers glide over the keyboard as stories pour forth in an unstoppable rush. I wish. The truth is, sadly, really dull. Writing, whether fiction or fact, is a hard grind for me. Not “hard” in the way other people’s jobs are (and ones I’ve had in the past), but in a sense, I take writing very seriously; treat it as a business (after all, I’ve deadlines, contracts, other people who rely on me). I work at it for set hours every day, and rewrite, edit, cut and delete in order to try and create the best stories and columns I possibly can. It doesn’t always come easy and certainly needs a lot of refining.

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But I’m getting ahead of myself.

 

Let me tell you how I approach novel writing…

 

Which is far more interesting than admitting how, akin to a (boring) sponge, I absorb as many newspapers and TV bulletins daily in order to write topical columns that contribute to social debate and prick the conscience – and generally make myself miserable about the state of the world in the process (but that’s another story).

 

When I start a new book, I tend to read a great deal of relevant historical non-fiction and fiction and completely immerse myself in the era. I spend months before I commence ordering books, journals, and documents; everything from court transcripts to academic treatises, maps, Ph.D.’s, to wonderful novels by talented writers set in the same period. I spend one-two years researching, usually while I’m in the editing and final stages of the previous book.

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I take copious notes, re-read books, pour over maps and any paintings or photographs, and watch documentaries pertinent to the time as well. Then, when I feel I’m ready, I write. (I usually know because I can’t NOT write.)

 

I already know how the book will start and end.

 

But, how the book unfolds and where the characters take me is a complete mystery. In that sense, I am more a pantster (writing by the seat of my pants) than a plotter.

 

Listening to music composed in the era is really motivating, as is burning scented candles to evoke moods. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to the places I write about (if not the time – where’s Dr. Who and the Tardis when you need her?), so my photos and recollections while in situ are so helpful.

 

As for my inspiration…

 

Apart from history, and everything else mentioned, especially other people’s wonderful words and music, and my wonderful dogs, it’s people who are my main inspiration. The dead and the living.  All the crazy, terrible, unjust and cruel as well as loving, heroic, brave and foolish things we do – to each other and ourselves – in the past and now.

 

It constantly depresses, challenges, emboldens and inspires me, to write, to ponder and to think about how we can all be better. I think about how I can write stories that capture what makes us who we are and where we can be and which fire the imagination. Then, I just hope like hell people like reading them as much as I love writing them.

 

I don’t know any author who sets out to write a book (or journalist a column or story) that doesn’t excite and move people. I’m no different. I just wish I was better at it too.

 

About Karen:

Dr. Karen Brooks: is an Author,  columnist, social commentator and academic. Karen is also a part of a gorgeous brewery in Tasmania with her partner. The brewery and the authory keep her busy! 

www.karenrbrooks.com

Twitter: KarenBrooksAU

Associate Professor and Honorary Senior Research Fellow IASH, Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Queensland.

Columnist for the Courier Mail.

Advice columnist for U On Sunday

Join Karen for great conversations and sharing on FaceBook: Karen Brooks Author – love to have you!

Director: Sara Douglass Enterprises

www.saradouglassworlds.com

www.nonsuchkitchengardens.com

 

 

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Outspoken – The Voice of Justice

Outspoken – The Voice of Justice

Outspoken by Fr Tod Bower Ponderings Magazine Australia

by Fr. Rod Bower

 

There are twelve minutes and four seconds of my life of which I have no actual memory.

That is the length of time I stood on the stage at the International Convention Center in Sydney delivering my TEDx talk.

There seems to be a gap in the space/time continuum between the second the stage manager said ‘go’ to the moment my appointed minder asked ‘can I get you anything?’ It’s not that I am ‘unaccustomed to public speaking.’

I do it all the time. There was more than six months notice, weeks of preparation and days of rehearsals; it’s just that the bar is set so high.

There seems to be a focus and intensity to a TED talk that doesn’t exist in any other forum.

As I left the stage my response to my minders question was simple; ‘water,’ I was just so dry in the mouth that it’s a wonder that I could speak at all.

Perhaps that’s why TED talks are so popular; we are parched, thirsty for well-considered thoughts, honed arguments tested and reviewed reflections were deliberations have been distilled to their essence.

 Presentations where we know people have given deep thought to their subject and have not only already been challenged on their content, but are willing to open themselves up to further criticism.

So there was TEDx and then came a book release.

As Kirsten put it “how could you ever imagine placing a message on your church sign could lead to these things?”

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Kirsten asked me what inspired me to write the book. The question the strikes fear in the heart of most authors is this actual question. In my case, the superficial but truthful answer is “Penguin Random House asked me too.

However, as I took up the challenge from the publisher a deeper and more complex reason emerged.

Outspoken became an answer to a parishioners question “Why are you different to all the other priests we have had in the parish before?”

Outspoken is the story of how I came to see that social order without justice is nothing more than tyranny and how and why I felt compelled to do something about it.

I hope that by telling my personal story, others may be inspired to reflect on their own stories and learn how order and justice might be better partners in the dance that leads to a more just society for all.

Because of my story, I see everything from the perspective of an outsider. This  has given me a particular empathy for those who are marginalized by a society that values order over justice. I hope Outspoken contains something contagious for the reader and the world becomes infected with compassion.

From Penguin: “Dear Christians. Some PPL are gay. Get over it. Love God.’ On 24 July 2013, Anglican priest Rod Bower put up these words on the roadside sign of his Gosford parish church. Sparking a social media revolution. The post was shared thousands of times – suddenly the one-time butcher was on the public stage.

Today Fr Rod has close to 65,000 followers on social media. He uses this platform to raise questions about Australia’s corporate soul, to assert that we are all brothers and sisters – asylum seekers, Muslims, those identifying as LGBTI, Indigenous Australians …And for such messages, the death threats pour in. How did a shy adopted kid from the country become this steadfast conscience of our nation, preaching both peace and disruption? Part life story, part love story, part manifesto, Outspoken describes evolution as surprising as are Fr Rod’s views about Christianity.

Utterly frank, both philosophical and funny, this is a singular book by a singular person. It illuminates the life and work of the man behind those signs.” To get  your copy go to: Penguin Books

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