Tuesday, 10 February 2015

In Conversation with Hettie Ashwin

Today we welcome the lovely, hard working and tenacious author Hettie Ashwin. I was lucky enough to meet Hettie last year in Port Douglas. We enjoyed  a beer by the marina and chatted about all things writing and publishing. 'Twas terrific!
Tell us a little about your writing journey.

I started writing by having about a gazillion pen pals. I used to write letters all over the world. Telling stories etc in letters. Of course I worked for a living, but always wrote a diary and then a travel diary. I went around the world for 2 years and then another year later after working to save more money. Then when I began living on a boat I wrote for boating magazines then moved to short stories, then novels. I still write for magazines and have a weekly column in the local Gazette in Port Douglas, humorous of course. I can never achieve the numbers my hero (PG Wodehouse) did of 93 novels, but one can try. I have a bucket list of things to achieve and slowly they get ticked off. Like.
  • Being in the THIS LIFE column of the Weekend Australian. Done
  • Winning a comp. 5 to date
  • Getting a publishing contract 3 to date
  • Getting a radio play broadcast On ABC
  • Writing a literary novel to do
  • Getting a best seller
  • Cracking the USA market
Et al…

What do you enjoy most about being a writer?
Where do I start? I love telling a story in a certain way and having readers 'get it'. The tenacity of finishing something makes it worthwhile. Having my readers email me, twitter ,e and FB to say they loved the books is a blast. But the writing and creating something is a real buzz.

What is the hardest aspect of being a writer?

It has to be getting the time to write. Life has a habit of getting in the way and making the time to get it down is hard. But if you want to do something you will always find the time. I seem to have too many ideas and not enough time to get them all down. They are on my to do list.
And I loathe it when a computer dies and you need to go through all that rigamarole to get it just how you want it. Ghrrrrrr.

Writers are sometimes influenced by things that happen in their own lives. Are you?
Always. If it isn’t my experiences it is people I meet or phrases I hear. No one is safe! I write with a certain knowledge say of archaeological digs, working as a barista and use those experiences all the time. When people see my thriller is set in Paris they always ask ‘Have you been to Paris?" Of course the answer is yes.

Tell us about your publications?
I have written 8 novels and quite a few short stories. I have a modern thriller, a SF thriller, two short stories one set in 1944 FN Queensland. I have 4 humorous novels. Two of those are situation comedies, one is a romantic comedy and one is a fictional account of my boating mis adventures. I love to write humour. My short stories have been published all over the place and been on several radio stations. I have been shortlisted, won and hon mentioned several times and this always gives a thrill. My work in progress is another comedy set in Tasmania. All these books sell well and I have many repeat customers. I have been published by Morris Publishing Australia, Blackbuck publishers India and independent published.

What is the most surprising thing about writing/publishing you have learnt?
I didn’t think I could do it. I thought it was a closed shop and an independent person would have buckleys chance. But it’s not true. Anyone can do it.

Other than writing what else do you love?

Reading. This has always been on my list. I enjoy a good story and for a time worked in a library so I roamed the dewey decimal system at will.
Letter writing I love to write letters to people on fine paper with my fountain pen and nice envelopes.. I’m a stationary tragic so I just love all that stuff.
Sailing, I have lived on a boat for 9 years and love the lifestyle, the sailing, the feeling of being out there without traffic lights, flies, neighbours and totally reliant on my instincts, my knowledge and my husband. (not necessarily in that order)
The occasional champagne. I do like a drink now and again. Once I won 6 bottles of Bollinger champagne and that introduced me to the world of good tasting champers. Beer is good too on a hot day, but we (hubby and I) like to celebrate any and everything and make a bit of an occasion with champagne. If I were to send an SOS from the boat it would be BRING BOLLY NOW!

What would your dream location for writing be?
I don’t think I have one. I live on a boat and travel around the coast so I get to see all sorts of places. I guess if I had to say something I would say an office. A nice ergonomic chair, coffee, air con, a printer set up and quiet. That would be my location.

Five words that sum you up.
funny, stickability, determination, optimistic, thinkoutsidetheboxability.
How can we learn more?
All my books are available from the usual places. Just going to my blog will get you there.

Best of luck with your writing Hettie!


  1. Great interview. It's nice to meet you, Hettie.

  2. Wonderful interview - and I totally agree with this: "I love telling a story in a certain way and having readers 'get it'." :)

    1. It makes a writers hard work that much more rewarding doesn't it Margo!