By Sebastian Starcevic, Age 14, Australia
Cristy Burne is an Australian science writer and children’s author.
On average, how long did it take you to write Takeshita Demons?
The first book was swirling around in me for a while. When I finally put pen to paper, I didn’t stop. It took only three weeks to write a first draft. Book 2 was harder: that was 9 months. And book 3 took even longer: a year. The actual writing seemed easier, but the plotting often snagged me, even though I sketch out a plot-plan before I start.
Where do you draw your inspiration and ideas from?
I lived in Japan for three years, so did lots of observing and learning while over there. Now back in Australia, I have a library of books on Japanese culture, including references on proverbs, history, folklore and of course yokai demons.
What was it like getting published for the first time?
Fantastic. I was on a high for a year. I still am. There’s something so strange about a story you invented in your head suddenly being in other people’s heads too.
How do you prepare for writing a novel? What type of planning do you do beforehand?
I do heaps of brainstorming, punctuated with research to bring in fresh ideas and inspiration. Then I write out ideas longhand, in writing so scribbly I can’t really read it half the time. It’s the process of mapping my ideas on paper that’s important, not being able to read them later. When I’ve plotted it to the end, I start. When I’m halfway through the first draft, I throw all my plotting out the window and plot again. It’s always better with the extra ideas and time.
Do you have a particular writing style or any odd writing habits?
I love to write for hours and hours without stopping. To facilitate this, I make a massive pot of green tea and keep it beside me. I drink it in pint glasses throughout the day. Hot, cold, yesterday’s…it doesn’t matter.
What do you think makes a good story?
Action, adventure, humour and good characters. Something that keeps the pages turning.
Lastly, do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
1) Write. We all like the idea of having written. So write.
2) Enter free and/or reputable competitions (e.g. those run by publishers), where you stand a chance of getting some feedback on your work.
3) Do writing classes: you learn lots and stay regularly inspired.
4) Write with a friend in a café for a few hours once a month – a great reward for when you’ve achieved your writing goals for the month. If you feel at a dead-end, going-nowhere, find someone qualified and reasonably priced to give you an honest opinion of your manuscript. Sometimes I’ve felt so lonely and talentless and pathetic, and just a word or two from someone who’s not your Mum can really help. You may be surprised (and inspired) by how much potential your writing has.