February 17, 2017

This week I have appeared in national print and online media in a story about my fiction writing journey, and more specifically how and why I’m walking the line between fact and fiction.

I have been writing people’s stories my whole life, and for the past 17+ years I’ve been helping others tell their stories through the media advisory and training section of my media company.

I give several tips when they talk to a journalist, these are specifically for a print interview:

  • Be prepared
  • Keep your story concise
  • Know what you want to say, and stick to the point
  • Be careful about speaking ‘off the record’ as it is not always the case
  • Be in a relaxed and comfortable environment, free of interruptions
  • Prepare notes or background information, sometimes a journalist will ask for extra information and this is a good way to provide it
  • Most importantly, speak to someone who you can trust and establish boundaries – this is your story, so you get to call the shots
  • Understand that you will generally not get an opportunity to edit or proof-read your story before it goes to print

Since publishing my debut bestseller in 2013, a crime fiction novel Write About Me inspired by the disappearance of my cousin Ursula Barwick in 1987, and three more novels since then, I have been on the other side of the phone, microphone and camera and asked to tell my story many times. It has given me a much deeper insight into what it’s like for all the people I advise to put themselves out into the public arena and share their story.

I must admit I don’t always follow my own script. I am not concise and I don’t always stick to the point. But one thing I always do, I make sure I know who I’m speaking to and only accept interviews with journalists I feel comfortable with and who I know will respect the intricacies and sensitivities of my writing journey.

Media relationships

My story this week was written by Lyndal Reading from The Weekly Times. We have known each other for around 17 years through our media careers, and have a long-held respect for each other’s writing and the different directions our careers have taken. Lyndal has worked her way through newsrooms to be a senior journalist and Business Editor. Our relationship is built on trust and an understanding of news and reporting accurately and with heart.

Although we’ve kept in sporadic touch, we haven’t seen each other for a very long time. When she asked if I would be happy to share my story with her, I didn’t hesitate. We met in the beautiful location of Narooma, and it was like we’d seen each other only yesterday. Lyndal had read my books and was interested in how I could go from writing fact to fiction.

For a while I stuck to my own tips but by the end of the interview I had given her a long, complicated, layered account of wearing my media hat during the day and entering the fiction world at night and on the sidelines of country cricket ovals on weekends. Throw in there my passion for being a Daniel Morcombe Foundation ambassador and an advocate for the National Missing Persons Coordination Centre.

When the questions turn to my search for Ursula, that’s when I really get bogged down. It is not easy for me to be concise when I have so many different emotions wrapped up with missing Ursula. Lyndal certainly had her work cut out for her in putting all this into one story.

I worried about how she would sift through the many different directions I took during our interview, but when I read her story, I felt so proud of this path I am on. Her fresh perspective on how my life has changed since publishing Write About Me inspires so much fresh enthusiasm and hope for Ursula and for missing persons in general.

She has captured so many important aspects of my fiction writing, and gets to the heart of why I write. Writing crime fiction allows me to escape into the minds of my fictional characters and step away from my own reality. Fiction allows me to keep people turning the page then leave them with a deeper understanding of what the word ‘missing’ really means.

  • To find out more about the fictional world I live in, visit my author website HERE