July 29

Welcome to the team, Paula Vince

Paula Vince with one of her books. Photo supplied.

For the past two years, Paula Vince has been giving her time to help writers improve their Stories of Life drafts during Feedback Month. This year, she also launched our Instagram page and we’re very happy to welcome Paula to the team.

Paula  is an award-winning author of fiction with an Australian tang. Her first novel, Picking up the Pieces, was out of print for ten years and went on to win first prize in the international Book Awards. She loves the challenge of persuading readers to care for unlikely characters. She also enjoys digging into classic literature to consider its relevance for our 21st century era. Paula lives near coastal Adelaide with her husband. They have three young adult children and a cat. Paula blogs regularly about books and all things literary at vincereview.blogspot.com

We spoke to Paula about her writing – in part, hoping to inspire you with yours; our submission period ends 31 July. Do get your stories in quick for the possibility of being published before Christmas.

SOL: What prompted you to write books?

I always felt as if it was my calling since I was a young Primary School student, although I wouldn’t have used that term back then. Stories fascinated me and I found writing them to be the easiest school assignments. Whenever I was asked what I wanted to be, I can’t remember a time when the answer was not ‘writer’ or ‘novelist.’

SOL: What is the genre of your books?

My novels are essentially inspirational dramas set around Adelaide, the beautiful city with which I’m most familiar. They always contain threads of romance, suspense and sometimes mystery. I never felt inspired to write pure romance or pure suspense, but I consider a generous dash of both these things provides something like the spice in a delicious meal.

SOL: Who is your intended audience?

The New Adult market – those in their early to mid-twenties. I never realised they were my target readers until I’d been writing for them for several years. I was delighted to discover there was a name for my audience. My main characters tend to slot into this age range, and so did I when I first started having my novels published. That was quite some time ago, as my children now fit the bill. They were in nappies during my early writing days.

SOL: How would you describe your writing process?

Getting a rough draft straight onto the page first thing is vital. During this stage I never let my critical editing voice butt in at all. The rough copy is reserved for creativity alone. I write it in longhand with a pen, since my ideas seem to flow better this way. Then comes the polishing stages which I do on computer. I try to read each subsequent draft with the eyes of a dispassionate stranger and make many small tweaks until I’m satisfied.

SOL: Could you describe the way facts and imagination interplay in your books?

Except for my YA fantasy trilogy, I like to ground my stories solidly in real locations with which I’m familiar. In this way, details such as distance between two scenes are already set, and I don’t have to worry about it. So are the geographical and demographic features of my settings, not to mention the scenic details. I find it great fun to anchor my purely made-up characters in a place and time I know so well. I almost feel as if I might pass them on the street. Although they wouldn’t know me, I would surely know them.

Or would they know me? Having watched the movie Stranger than Fiction, starring Emma Thompson and Will Ferrell, I sometimes wonder.

SOL: What effect do you hope your books will have on your readers?

I always aim to have my readers gradually warm up to unlikeable characters and finish up loving them. If we can manage this in story form, it may stretch our empathy muscles to respond likewise in real life situations. Another intention is simply to provide a temporary rest from our own problems and routines when we are willingly drawn into those of others. This sort of reading respite has given me many an attitude tweak or new way of looking at things. If I can prompt others to do the same, it would make me very happy.


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