Tuesday, 17 March 2015
In Conversation with Heather Gallagher.
Today we welcome children's author, Heather Gallagher. I was lucky enough to meet Heather when she came along to our Children/YA writing group. I was also lucky enough to attend the launch of her beautiful book, Happy Pants.
Tell us a little about your writing journey.I decided I wanted to be a writer when I was in Grade 4 and a teacher was impressed with one of my stories and read it out to the class (thanks Mrs Cunningham!). But, of course, you can’t just be a writer (or so I thought) so I beavered away at becoming a journalist. It took an awfully long time to break in and a lot of persistence – very good training as it happens for becoming a ‘proper writer’. I worked as a journalist for many years but always held on to my dream of becoming a ‘proper writer’. After my first daughter, Rose, was born in 2001, I began writing a story about ahem, a gigantic snot ball. And that, hee! hee! got the ball rolling. While this story still hasn’t found a publisher, it’s still one of my favourites and I had a ball writing it…is that too many balls? Anyway, at some point I thought I needed to get serious – so I enrolled in Professional Screenwriting at RMIT and later Writing for Children at VUT. These courses gave me lots of tips, confidence, etc but there was also a point where it dawned on me that I just had to sit at my desk and bloody write! That said, I wrote Ferret on the Loose (my first chapter book) as a project for the VUT course. Last year, my first picture book Happy Pants – Why is Mummy so Sad? was published.
What do you enjoy most about being a writer?
I love being part of a writing community – after the not-so-friendly culture of journalism, children’s writers have proven to be wonderful, generous people! I also love that bit when the writing’s going well and you’re in the zone…and of course, those acceptance emails and letters are pretty amazing too. And then, there’s chocolate!
What is the hardest aspect of being a writer?
Rejection. And feeling like you could do it (deliver to publishers) if they’d just tell you what they really want! The isolation has also been a factor for me. I find having a part-time job keeps me sane.
Writers are sometimes influenced by things that happen in their own lives. Are you?
Unfortunately, I suffered post-natal depression with both my children. It was this experience that prompted me to write my picture book Happy Pants. On a completely different note, it was interviewing kids (as a journalist) about their ferrets that provided the inspiration for Ferret on the Loose.
Tell us about your publications?
Ferret on the Loose is about a girl called Lucy who is desperate for her ferret Flash to win the Fastest Fearless Ferret Race. Of course, as an author it was my job to make it next to impossible for her to achieve this. The book was published by New Frontier Publishing in 2013 as part of their Little Rockets series.
Happy Pants – Why is Mummy so sad? was published by Wombat Books last year. It tells the story of a little boy grappling with his Mum’s post-natal depression and his fruitless attempts to make her better.
What is the most surprising thing about writing/publishing you have learnt?
That editors and publishers are actually, usually nice normal people.
Other than writing what else do you love?
My family, my dog, my friends, my home, the beach...
What would your dream location for writing be?
My messy desk in the kitchen.
Five words that sum you up.
Messy, creative, funny, warm and sometimes a bit vague, I think, maybe indecisive – I’m not sure ...
How can we learn more?
Thanks for sharing some of your journey Heather.
Best of luck for the future!