Welcome to Why Write, a super short podcast that asks writers just that, why they write. Hi, I’m Noè Harsel, a writer and Chair of Writers Victoria, and you know, I’m excited to chat to a diverse group of writers and simply ask, why write? I’m glad you’re here with me.
Today, I have Andrea Rowe. Andrea is a Victorian Children’s YA author, short story writer and she has published in anthologies and magazines. Her debut book Jetty Jumping has been shortlisted in the 2022 CBCA Book of the Year for Early Childhood. Andrea won the 2020 Hal Porter Short Story Award, and is a professional copywriter and content strategist for several respected Australian charities. She’s also the founder of the Peninsula Writers’ Club and the Mornington Peninsula Shire Mayor’s Writing Award.
Welcome to Why Write, Andrea, I am so happy to be speaking to you. And congratulations once again on your shortlisting. I’m excited to find out more about your diverse forms of writing. So, let’s get right to the big question. The reason why we are here. Tell us Andrea, why do you write?
Thank you. And oh my goodness, this question blew my mind. I think I had Gantt charts and pie charts and lots of sticky, sticky notes all over the office to try and plot why I actually write, I could have actually written entire novel on it, I think. It was actually a really intimate question. I, I felt like I had to sort of strip back layers of myself to question why I actually am writing. But essentially, for me, it’s, it’s I think it’s a place I define. I define myself and I help myself understand the world. Writing really gives me permission to be truthfully expressive about myself. And, and also I can wallow in sadness, I can see the rage, I can overflow with love.
And I can adapt and solve problems and explore really tricky questions. And that is an amazing opportunity to just be in the world of writing. I think really writing helps me explain myself to myself, and also explain other people, to myself and the dilemmas that we’re facing as well. And, you know, sometimes it’s about releasing my demons of sort of confusion and anger and fear and, and the angels of joy and hope as well, I think so it’s it’s a, it’s a lovely place to be in.
But it’s a really, it’s, it’s it’s quite an confronting question to ask yourself when it’s kind of unthinkable that I couldn’t write. I’ve just always written, we even invented a silly dictionary dinner game, when I grew up. My parents were really encouraging about exploring words and trying to even invent meanings. So my childhood was full of stories, before I even was able to question that some stories aren’t in some peoples lives. So for me, I think it was inevitable that creating, creating worlds and creating stories really caught my attention.
I think that’s beautiful. And also, I think, as you say, really lucky and wonderful that you were so encouraged to have storytelling and stories in your life as you were growing up. And this makes me think I mean, you, you write children’s books. And, and I know, I know that you are now writing a YA novel, that’s correct? So, I’m wondering, can you talk a little bit about what it is, about this writing of children’s books that you love, and also about moving into that YA age group?
Sure. Look, I think, I love children, and I love the conversations children have. And I think essentially, sometimes when I’m writing children’s books, I’m talking to little Andrea, little me, all the things that I struggled with, whether it was friendships, or fear, or what happens next, or what’s going on in the world. So I think when I’m writing for children, I really am tapping back into me as well. But I’m also inspired by the conversations and the activities and the, the genuine, authentic way kids live in the world and interact in the world. And so for me, I’m really drawn to that place of naivety and innocence and vulnerability as well. I think it’s a genuine place to, it’s a genuine audience to write for. I mean, everyone’s a wonderful audience to write for, but I feel really driven to speak to children. I think for me, writing for children comes to a genuine, from a genuine place of curiosity.
I love sort of trying to problem solve ideas or to even spark that curiosity a little a bit more. And I love with children, they question things, they question even why a word is like a word. They question, you know, the most hilarious things, and then also the most heartfelt of things as well. So there’s, there’s something very genuine writing for that place. But also, as I’ve evolved, as a writer, I’ve identified there are themes and challenges that I really want to unpack for a young adult audience as well, in a contemporary world. And maybe I’m writing that from both teenage me, but also adult parent me as well. I do appreciate I’m coming from two places. And I have a genuine curiosity to understand how I’m moving through these imaginary worlds and tricky issues as well.
So it’s, it’s a curious thing for me that I’m evolving as who I’m writing for, but I guess wholly and solely, I come back to writing for children, because there’s, there’s something genuinely innocent and naive there as well, for me to writing for young adult audience really helps me explore the issues and themes that are going on in the world right now. So this is not just emotional issues. These are issues like climate change, mental health, digital responsibility and connectivity. Issues that are coming to the foreground for our kids. And then, of course, the same is of really hard issues, homelessness. What is going on with, you know, corporate responsibility and things like that. So I’m fascinated by that. I’m interested in exploring it. And maybe I’m also questioning what would teenage me do in today’s day and age? How would I cope with this? And, and as a writer, look, I take from all the best writers, and they all say, you know, what’s the worst thing that could happen? You know, what’s the best thing that could happen? What it for what happens next? And they are the questions that drive me. And as a writer, when I put, create these imaginary worlds, I feel like I have to unpick those threads a little bit, and see what’s falling out of the fabric there, too,
I think that is amazing. And it goes to show how deep and how much there is in both children’s writing, and YA writing and as we go into, as we progress, and as we look at how deep this sort of writing can actually get and what that what kind of messages we can give, and how we explore ourselves within that.
Absolutely. And writing really gives you permission to deep dive into these really complex issues. And prod the far corners of your own consciousness of how would I react to this? Or what is my, what is my driven response to this issue as well. So I’m quite fascinated by that. And I’m enjoying the challenge of exploring that. Because writing is a challenge.
It is a challenge. I just wanted to also move into, just ever so briefly, I mean, a lot of writers, poets, artists, have their day jobs, some of us are incredibly fulfilled in that and sometimes writing can therefore become a bit sidelined. So I’m interested in your work as a copywriter and a strategist. And I’m just curious does that at all take away, or add, to your creative write life as a writer,
I think it absolutely adds because I’m working for a variety of clients. In my instance, often it’s not for profits or government organisations where they’re dealing with tricky issues as well. So I feel like sometimes I’m literally hearing under the hood of issues or conversations. But also I’m becoming stronger in the craft of writing as well. And you know, what makes a good lead sentence what needs to be expanded a little bit more. The craft of editing. For me, it’s, it’s a little bit like being an athlete who has to exercise every day. Copywriting is my training regime. And then when I can, of course, I’m you know, at lunchtime, in the morning, in the evening at Live Writes, I’m you know, busting out as many words as I can so, I don’t think it takes away from it. But what I’ve noticed I need to do, is make sure as a copywriter that I’m as equally committed to my client time as I am to my writing time, that is something that drives me in terms of the next novel, or the, sorry, the next children’s book or the novel I’m working on as well. So copywriting is definitely a great place to to really enhance your writing skills as well.
Amazing. Thank you so much for your time, Andrea, we have learned so much about the skills, the dedication and how much you give into it and I cannot thank you enough for giving us your time today.
Thanks so much. Thank you soon thanks so bye.
Thanks for listening. We would love to hear why you write. Tell me at whywrite.com.au Why Write is a Writers Victoria podcast. All programs and information about becoming a member with us at Writers Victoria is available at writersvictoria.org.au We hope you enjoyed Why Write and if you did, please tell your friends and don’t forget to subscribe and leave a review on Apple iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. Why Write was recorded at Brand Music and engineered by Michael Burrows.
Original Music by Michael Burrows.