Award-winning author, Paula Vince loves to evoke tears and laughter through her novels. A wife and homeschooling mother of three, she resides in the beautiful Adelaide Hills of South Australia. Her youth was brightened by great fiction and she’s on a mission to pay it forward.
Her novel, Picking up the Pieces, won the religious fiction section of the 2011 International Book Awards.
Her novel, Best Forgotten, was winner of the 2011 CALEB Award in the fiction category and also recognized as the best overall entry for the year, chosen over memoirs, devotionals and general non-fiction.
Paula’s books are a skillful blend of drama and romance tied together with elements of mystery and suspense.
Paula is the author of Picking up the Pieces, The Risky Way Home, A Design of Gold and Best Forgotten. Her new novel, Imogen’s Chance, will be published in April, 2014.
Paula is also one of the four authors of The Greenfield Legacy.
Recently, Paula agreed to join me in my library and share something of her writing journey.
1) Is there a quote that sums up how you feel about writing?
I’ve come across several great quotes but I’ll go for ‘The pen is mightier than the sword’ because it expresses something so profound in just seven words. It sounds like it could have been from Shakespeare, but was actually written by Edward Bulwer-Lytton, in his play, ‘Richelieu’.
I agree that writers, who quietly work on the emotions and consciences of a nation, have the potential to achieve at least as much in the collective consciousness of their countries as soldiers who are sent out to physically fight. But why go to the trouble of saying all that when you can just say, ‘The pen is mightier than the sword’?
2) What was your process of becoming a writer? Was this something you set out to do?
It was always Number One on my list of ambitions since I was very little. I didn’t feel confident about many things, but writing a good story was one of them. I was always such a bookworm, I can’t remember not having a desire to give back to the world in the same way.
That confidence took a nosedive in my young adulthood, when I realised it wasn’t going to be as easy as I’d expected. I studied English at University, which seemed the logical choice at the time, but managed to scare me off my ambition for a while. The dry, critique based essays I had to produce were definitely different from the fiction I love to write now.
When I finished University, I started to experiment with writing at my leisure and in my own way. Nine novels later, I’m finding I never stop learning, and look forward to more surprises on the road ahead.
3) The writing life requires the ‘Three C’s’ – Craft, Community and Conversation. Where do you go for these things in your own writing practice?
Craft – One of the first things I did was to carefully study my favourite evocative passages from novels I loved, to try to figure out the craft behind them for my own knowledge. I would read a novel through for its own sake, then go back over it, trying to figure out how the authors managed to infuse their words with feeling, and manipulate their readers’ reactions and emotions. In this way, I figured out what such obscure things as, ‘Show, don’t Tell’ and ‘Deep Point of View’ meant.
Having editors helped too. I’ll always be grateful for years of crossings out and pencilled remarks, explaining what I was doing wrong and why I should change. In my fourteen years of receiving edits, I’ve almost always agreed with all of it.
Community – I think social media is invaluable in helping us keep in touch with like-minded friends. Whenever we get to attend the occasional conference, we can often pick up where we left off on Face Book the night before. There are shared blogs which I contribute to, and review sites such as Good Reads where we can also chat. All this has made keeping special friendships far easier.
I love it when we are able to give early feedback on each others’ unpublished projects. Computers have definitely changed my life for the better.
Conversation – Once again, computers are valuable. I love to see other authors in person as often as I can, but the vastness of Australia makes this impossible for most of the year. I enjoyed writing a collaborated novel called ‘The Greenfield Legacy’ with three friends, but we all lived far apart from each other. We still managed to have lots of great email conversations about our characters, and the way the story was heading.
Having said that, I do love to sit and have a good proper chat with other authors about our book character friends. It probably doesn’t happen often enough.
4) Was there ever a book that inspired you to become a writer?
There are many, but one experience sticks in my memory. I was crying so hard over Liz Curtis Higgs’ ‘Thorn in my Heart’ series, I suddenly thought, ‘I want to be able to do the same thing, and get others in a blubbering mess like this. It’s what I really want to do more than anything.’ We aren’t always encouraged to express our emotions freely in our culture. I believe that being able to explore and release them in a story is a healthy thing to do.
5) What is your favourite environment for writing?
I received a lovely canvas hammock for Christmas. Lying in it, with my notebook and pen, and maybe a nice cup of tea or cool drink, would have to be up there. Sitting in the car at some picturesque location is excellent too. Lots of silence and blue sky definitely helps when it comes to writing.
Find out more at www.justoccurred.blogspot.com
Paula’s new novel, Imogen’s Chance, will be published in April, 2014.
About Imogen’s Chance
She has given herself a chance to fix her personal history. But will old mistakes bring up new emotions?
Imogen Browne longs to make up for past mistakes before she can move on. She quietly resolves to help the Dorazio family, whose lives she accidentally upset. Her biggest challenge is Asher, the one person who may never forgive her. And he is facing a crisis of his own. Imogen must tread very carefully, as trying to fix things may well make them shatter.
A sensitive story about misplaced loyalty, celebrating life and falling in love. Can family secrets concealed with the best intentions bear the light of day?