By Karen Hansord
Sitting at a table in Dome, overlooking the Mandurah foreshore in the late morning is something that I rarely get to do interviewing a successful author is something that I have only dreamt about. Yet, here I was on Monday sitting across from GJ Walker-Smith, author of the Saving Wishes series, and our mutual friend Tash, whom she brought as moral support. It was comforting to know that Walker was just as nervous at being interviewed as I was about interviewing her.
As we were waiting for our drinks, the three of us got to know each other better and I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was to talk to her, she smiled, laughed and her enthusiasm and energy was infectious. After a few minutes of talking and becoming fast friends, our drinks arrived and with that I began the interview.
Walker answered all the questions with great enthusiasm; it was difficult to write everything down as she spoke quickly and in the end I used the opportunity to just get to know her. Thus, the interview in this article, although asked at Dome, is ultimately via email.
If you could travel in time to meet anyone who would it be?
I’m not sure there’s a person I’d like to meet, but I’d love to travel back to the 40’s. I think it was a defining era for the whole world and I would’ve loved to have seen it.
You have a very passionate following of readers, did you ever expect that?
No! Never in a million years did I expect such a following. I’m lucky enough to have a really interactive readership. I value every single one of them.
Why did you set the Saving Wishes series in Tasmania? Is the place significant to you?
It’s really significant to me. My mum’s side of the family are from Tassie and I spent lots of holidays there as a kid. I also have a son who is boarding at Launceston Church Grammar School.
On one of our many trips over to visit him, I came across a little seaside town that inspired Pipers Cove. It seemed like the perfect place for a girl to start an adventure.
How do you feel about female characters in Young Adult romance novels?
I love a good romance, but weak, indecisive girls who give their dreams up for a boy disappoint me. I wanted to create a strong girl who could hold her own and stay true to her own path. Hopefully I pulled it off!
How did you become a published author?
Building up the courage to put my work out there for the world to read took a long time. Once I felt brave enough to share, I went the self-publishing route. For me, it was absolutely the right decision. I wouldn’t change a thing.
How have you managed to juggle your writing and doing everyday things?
I’m lucky enough to be able to write full time so I write most days. I set myself strict hours to make sure I don’t write for too long. Real life is important too!
What is the writing community like online and in Western Australia?
The online community is huge. There’s a big sense of camaraderie in the indie community, and I’ve met some great friends. I love how everyone is so supportive of each other’s successes.
Are there any writers that have inspired you?
Aarrgh! Don’t think I can answer this one, Karen. I’m the writer with no time to read!!!
I’ve seen your dream cast page on your blog; did you have the image of those actors when you were writing?
I always had a picture of Adam in my head. Imagining a swoon-worthy boy was easy! Charli was never really clear to me. I was careful not to focus too much on her looks. I’m still not sure whether she’s drop dead gorgeous or a plain Jane. I tried to steer the focus toward her strong will and feisty personality. These are the traits Adam loved, not her looks.
Music is sometimes a big part of a writer’s inspiration. Do you listen to music when writing?
I can’t actually listen to music when I write! I need peace and quiet, which is hard in a house with three boys. Any chance I get for silence, I take it.
You have a new book coming out very soon called Secret North. Can you tell us a bit about that?
Storm Shells (Book 3) wrapped up Adam and Charli’s story. Secret North is the story of one of the side characters, Ryan. He’s been a really fun write because he’s sarcastic and arrogant. I loved the challenge of calming him down and making him grow up a little bit.
What would be your advice to aspiring authors?
Never give up. Believe that your work is good enough and always write for yourself. The second you start wondering how others will perceive your work, you’ll lose your nerve. The story you tell can only ever be your own. If others enjoy it too, that’s a bonus.