Monday, September 16, 2013

Dianne (Di) Bates, Author

Meet Australian Author Dianne (Di) Bates, BA Dip Teaching has published 120+ books for the education and trade markets. Some of Di’s books have won national and state literary awards; others have sold overseas. Di has received Grants and Fellowships from the Literature Board of the Australia Council and has toured for the National Book Council.

Di has undertaken commissioned writing for a large number of organizations and has worked on the editorial team of the NSW Department of Education School Magazine. She was co-editor of a national children’s magazine, Puffinalia (Penguin Books) and editor of another national magazine, Little Ears.

In 2008, Di was awarded The Lady Cutler Prize for distinguished services to children’s Literature.

Currently Di works as a freelance writer and manuscript assessor. She lives in Woonona, north of Wollongong, NSW, Australia, with her prize-winning YA author husband, Bill Condon.  

Welcome Di!

When did you realize you wanted to become a writer?

I wrote my first book over 30 years ago when I was living in a very isolated place (The Diggings, Dr George Mountain, Tanja via Bega, NSW, Australia) and was looking for activities to fill in my time. I was amazed that the manuscript was published (by Penguin Books Australia) and thus my writing career was started. I’ve since been published by many houses such as HarperCollins, Random House, Allen & Unwin and so on.

What books have you written?

I have published 120+ books, mostly for young readers. The most recent are Nobody’s Boy (Celapene Press) which was a 2013 Children’s Book Council of Australia Notable Book and Highly Commended in the Australian Family Therapy Awards, and The Girl in the Basement (Morris Publishing Australia) which has just been picked up by Gersh Agency in Los Angeles which is representing it as a 6 to 8 episodes TV series, and as a US title.

Can you share a joke from your children's book Giggle and Grin

What do you call two thieves? (A pair of knickers)

What are you currently writing?

I so loved writing The Girl in the Basement (a cross-over novel) that I decided to have a try at writing an adult crime novel. I’m now 55,000 words into The Freshest of Flesh about a woman serial killer hunting down paedophiles: it is told from the points of view of the woman and of a convicted paedophile. I am having such fun writing it!

Describe your daily routine...

I don’t have a routine as such, but when I’m writing a book, I write everyday. I’m an insomniac so sometimes I’m up half the night (today from 3 am to 8 am); in any case I probably clock about 40 writing (and researching) hours a week. (This includes writing-related business.)

How do you maintain thoughts and ideas?

The thoughts and ideas bombard me all the time. I become obsessed with what I’m currently writing and can’t wait to get to the keyboard.

Where do you like to write?

I prefer to write in my office without any distractions. My husband, Bill Condon, who is also a prize-winning Australian YA author brings me cups of tea during the day (otherwise I forget to drink I’m so absorbed in what I’m doing.)

Who is your favorite author?

I’d have to say my husband, Bill Condon who won the inaugural (2010) Australian Prime Minister’s Literary Award for YA fiction with his novel Confessions of a Liar, Thief and Failed Sex God; he was short-listed again in 2012 with A Straight Line to My Heart.

Bill writes memorable characters that you grow to love so much that getting to The End is almost a heart-break. His writing is soaked through with honesty and integrity; he writes humor ever so well and his dialogue is 100% convincing. Finally, I know just how much effort he sinks into his writing – the agony and angst of getting ever word right and in the right place!

Name your top 5 favorite books....

Quirky, memorable characters are what appeals to me most when I’m reading children’s books, and I love the use of strong, image-provoking language and well-constructed plots; thus my favorite books are Where the Lilies Bloom (Bill and Vera Cleaver), The Naming of Tashkin Silk (Glenda Millard), Daredevils (Bill Condon), The Dead I Know (Scott Gardner), The Book Thief (Markus Zusak)...

I know you said five, but I’m going to cheat...
There’s also Dicey’s Song (Cynthia Voigt), Ruby Holler (Sharon Creech), A Pure Swift Cry (Siobhan Dowd), A Gathering Light (Jennifer Donnelly), Dead Time (Anne Cassidy) and The Year the Gypsies Came (Linzi Glass). I also love humorous books by authors such as Beverley Cleary, Jacqueline Wilson and Andy Stanton. Finally (I keep thinking of other favorite titles!) I hugely enjoy the poetry of Elizabeth Honey, Bill Condon, Jack Prelutsky, Roger McGough, Michael Rosen and Colin McNaughton.

And here are my top adult reads:  
Running with Scissors (Augustus Burroughs), Where the Heart is (Billie Letts) , The Treatment  (Peter Kocan), Mr Vertigo (Paul Auster), The Comforts of Madness (Paul Sayer), Just Another Kid (Torey L. Hayden), Darkness Visible (William Styron), The Road (Cormack McCarthy), The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold), The Room (Emma Donaghey), True Stories (Helen Garner), Water for Elephants (Sara Gruen).

Any advice for newbie writers?

Know the market! By that I mean if you are open to all genres of writing keep up to date with which publisher is publishing what. Try to predict writing trends and find niches – and this way you will be two jumps ahead of others. The bottom line, though, is to be “hungry” for opportunity and above all -- persist. At one time I had 47 consecutive rejections of my work but I still believed in my talent. Persistence, that’s what it’s all about really and to always give 100% of your best. Workshop frequently with writers whose opinions you respect. I also think it pays to find a good mentor, but to give as much back as you take. I have helped so many new writers over the years, never to hear from them again.

Connect with Di….

Di & Bill

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