The Next Big Thing – take two!


I would now like to introduce you to another writer, who will be posting their answers to the 10 questions any day now.  Helen Townsend has had 22 books published, both fiction and non-fiction. Three of them were written for or with other people. She has been published mainly in Australia, but also in Germany, the U.K. and Czechoslovakia. Two of Helen’s books became ABC TV documentaries and another was an ABC radio documentary.  As well as writing short stories, Helen is currently doing a final edit of her latest novel, Age Before Beauty, which she intends to publish online.


The Next Big Thing


The Next Big Thing is a blog chain where writers answer ten questions about their writing, then tag other writers to do the same. I was tagged by Andrea Baldwin, a clinical psychologist who is doing a PhD in creative writing. You can read her post here.  My answers follow.

1. What is the title of your current book?

The Black Dog in Greek

2. Where did the idea come from?

Like many first novels, the concept is based heavily on my own personal experiences.  I have been having an unrequited love affair with Greece since my first visit when I was 19.  I spent a whole, magical summer on the Island of Mykonos.  Twelve years later, I tried to revisit the island and relive my experience of that time, which had taken on mythical status.  What happened has left me with a memory of Greece as both the best and the worst of times.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

The story is semi-autobiographical, or thinly disguised memoir, depending on your point of view.  It is literary fiction in its intentions but has the potential for wider popular appeal given the current public and political interest in the management of mental health in Australia and internationally.

I had thought that to achieve my purpose, I needed to make use of the techniques used in fiction.  I am actually re-considering this approach.  I think, perhaps, that my message might ultimately be more impactful if written (owned) as memoir.

4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

I have not given a single moment’s thought to this question until now.  I keep thinking Winona Ryder would be the main character, but I really don’t like her very much.  No, it would need to be Emily Blunt.  She exudes confidence and at the same time has infinite capacity for vulnerability.  Ryan Gosling would, of course, need to make an appearance somewhere 🙂

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Kat is an Australian citizen who has been admitted, voluntarily to a psychiatric hospital in Athens where she is forced to face her worst fears and the inevitability of their eventuality.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

It is my hope that it will be represented by an agency. 

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft?

It is still in progress.  I wrote the first chapter as part of the unit Novel and Memoir during my graduate studies in 2011 and have been struggling with writer’s block every since.  A wise friend of mine recently suggested that I write a ‘draft zero’ – not for consumption – as an attempt to reframe the process into something which feels more manageable.  On the upside, I have developed a keen interest in how other writers deal with their own blocks.  There are some fascinating and inspiring ideas in the book Breakthrough! by Alex Cornell.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I find this particularly difficult because I struggle to presume that my writing is comparable with these talented, published authors, but here goes!  There are similarities, in style, with Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson.  There are also parallels in intention with Kate Grenville’s Dark Places which confronts those aspects of humanity which make us most uncomfortable.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

That poignant moment when an author affirms your view of the world through their narrative, or takes you to a place which strikes a chord of recollection or perception, can be exquisite.  

I am interested in the impact that persuasive writing, in the form of fiction and memoir, can have on stigma and prejudice.  I am also politically driven to tell this story in a way that renders it not only accessible to an audience who would otherwise be closed to the lessons that it offers, but compelling.   I would like to take my audience on an unsuspecting journey to realisation that prompts them to question some basic assumptions.

Such lofty ideals – perhaps I would have been better to start with a rollicking yarn!

10. What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

Well, we’re all voyeurs deep down, aren’t we?  This will be raw, revelatory, recalcitrant and ruthless…


I would now like to introduce you to another writer, who will be posting their answers to the 10 questions in a week’s time.

Skye Rogers is the author of 5 non-fiction books: ‘Jobs for the Girls’, about women in small business, (Random House), ‘thirtysomething’ (Allen + Unwin) about women navigating their 30’s, ‘Bend of the River’ (Lansdowne Press) a personal memoir co-authored with her mother, Jerry Rogers), ‘Drink Me’ (Harper Collins) a memoir, and most recently, ‘Paper Bliss – projects and musings on life in the paper lane.’). Paper Bliss finally brings together Skye’s two great loves: writing and designing/making.

 If you have a blog and are working on a book (or have recently completed/published one), you may like to participate in The Next Big Thing yourself. Contact me, Andrea or Skye!


“The idea that creativity is some abundantly available resource waiting simply for the right application of ingenuity to extract, refine, and pipe it into the grid seems so axiomatic at this cultural juncture that the very distinction between creativity and productivity has been effectively erased.”

Because I can’t


I can’t write because every excuse not to applies directly to me. 

1. I have no talent.

2. I will never be as good as Ian McEwan, so what’s the point?

3. No one would want to hear what I have to say.

3a. I don’t have time (OR)

3b. I have chosen to prioritise my infinitely more important family responsibilities over the pursuit of my own creativity.

4. My subject matter would be my family and I can’t write about THAT until they’re all dead.

5. I will be exposed as a fraud.

6. I could never make a living out of it.

Every possible excuse not to follow one’s passion boils down to one truth.  That is, I am afraid.

Who will help me change that?