Please tell us a little about yourself.
I am an Australian writer, farmer, wife, mother and grandmother. Creativity is my strongest characteristic and has been all of my life in every pursuit… and these are numerous. I’m also a rescuer extraordinaire —of numerous babies of all varieties—from human, to furry and feathered, hairy and woolly. Maybe earlier experience as a telephone crisis counselor and careworker were the catalysts. Maybe not, as I successfully raised 6 precious kangaroos and various other four-leggeds before that experience happened. Life has never been boring.
What do you write (genre, length)?
Memoirs, flash fiction, short/shorts, novella, children’s stories.
I think 75,000 words in one story would be my limit… but even that would have to be broken up into a number of chapters. Probably an age/memory thing, but it’s what my ‘butterfly’ brain prefers.
What is/are your current project/s? Please give us some details.
I have always juggled too many projects at once, though just now attempting to keep my main focus on one in particular, a story shared with me by my husband’s family of the trials of ordinary life in Denmark in WWll under Nazi Occupation.
Next in line should be another story about a teenage boy surviving a devastating farm accident that leaves him disabled. I’m trying to develop it through the eyes of himself, his parents, medicos and friends/helpers. Interesting, but most challenging to get the characteristics correct. Don’t know if I can, but surely trying.
In between I try to keep up shorter commitments with various writing groups—like meeting weekly single word prompt challenges for 500-word flash fiction; a random six-word challenge; creative fiction challenges from photos, music, quotations; eight-weekly blog posts; quarterly e-zine short/short submissions; and… and… then there’s the other projects waiting for sporadic attention in the wings of my Scrivener writing program!
Who (author or otherwise) or what book inspired you to write?
I began writing in a diary in my early teen years and attempted serious writing in my late twenties. Too many rejections convinced me I was not good enough, and I shelved my writing for 30+ years. A friend convinced me to try a now defunct writing platform and I discovered much joy in creating what was called a ‘lens’—an in-depth look through words , photographs and quotes about specific subjects… or people. I gathered more confidence writing a number of e-zine articles, whilst continuing to puzzle over how to write about our greatest love—farming. And then I remembered how much we’d loved watching TV episodes about the life of a Yorkshire veterinarian—James Herriott—and sought out his series of books, beginning with All Creatures Great and Small. Suddenly I could see the answer to the problem that had been stopping me was my inability to write a novel. My niche (or solution) lay in presenting a series of ‘stand-alone’ chapters of our countless down-to-earth stories of farm life. And the Herriott series of books showed me how I could break up ours into tales from each of our farms.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Never, ever give up —or stop believing in yourself—or doubt that you ARE a writer, you ARE an author.
Remember when you were a small child and had to learn to write, spell, count? Only constant trial and error, practice and learning brought you to this point. Successful writing is no different.
What do you do for a living?
These days, hubby and I work for the Australian Government as aged pensioners, adding to that bountiful (?) income with a few cattle sales a year from our small (10 acre) retirement farm.
Who is/are your favorite author(s)?
Many favourites have changed over the decades, but stand-outs these days are Jodi Picoult (I have every one of her books and am totally in love with the way she switches between the characters of her stories as she explores and exposes unique ways of thinking and feeling about an amazing array of human dilemmas and questions). And our late Australian author, Bryce Courtenay. Despite some criticisms of the length of his books, I adore his writing… and again, have each of his books.
And old-fashioned as they are, I will never stop being grateful for the James Herriott books and my inspiration from them.
What is/are your favorite book(s)?
In case you hadn’t realised yet, I LOVE books. Have a whole wall of them, two layers deep on several groaning shelves, despite having given many away. Choose one?? Sorry… not possible.
What’s the best compliment someone can give you as an author?
Any of these will do—“You made me laugh… or cry; think and feel more deeply; see and understand through different eyes; care!”
What is the strangest/most interesting/coolest/weirdest/scariest thing you’ve had to research for a book or short story?
I’m torn between two current projects requiring much research—one is my WWll story, trying to balance actual research with memories of tales from my late parents-in-law and the tiniest snippets from hubby who was a pre-school child through those years. The other is a fiction based on several factual stories about a teenage farmer surviving a shocking farm accident to face the new reality of being severely disabled. In both cases, it’s quite a task to share and raise the emotions of my readers with incredibly painful aspects, whilst keeping my own feelings in check.
What is the most difficult part of writing for you? Why?
Age, I guess. There is the bonus of having experienced much, but a more youthful physical presence would be nice sometimes when I think about all I wish to achieve. Will body and mind hold out long enough?
And I envy those who have a writing retreat of their very own… a door to close with a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign that everyone respects. Instead I have this shared, cluttered desk alongside another with a hubby and his laptop on his equally cluttered desk and a love of sharing—news, thoughts, computer problems, etc., etc. Did I mention I’m an insomniac and get much work done in the middle of the night??
What is your favorite genre to read? Why?
I don’t have one particular favourite. My tastes embrace many genres. I think it’s easier to say what’s NOT my favourite genres—horror, violence, icky romance, LGBTQ, paranormal, murder mystery, werewolf, most sci-fi.
What are some little known facts about you? Hobbies, talents, anything?
Once upon a time I gave a 9 week old calf mouth-to-mouth resuscitation when she choked on an undissolved lump of milk powder. She was the offspring of one of our ‘top’ milking cows, and I had hand-fed her since she was two days olds. No way was I going to let this beautiful creature die. I blew into her mouth, rubbed her throat vigorously and thumped her sides… and I saved her valuable life.
I have been a great cook (still occasional flashes of brilliance, but mainly just a good (but versatile), solid everyday cook). I have been a craftsperson with considerable creations in the fields of knitting, crochet, tapestry, quilting, ceramics, jewellery… and once upon a long time ago, when I gave up smoking—an avid vegetable gardener (kept my hands busy and breathing heavy!)
Do you like physical books, ebooks, or audiobooks better? Why?
Ebooks are great for travelling, and reading in bed (I have a backlit Kindle), but I never get accustomed to all that finger swishing (think that’s an ‘age’ issue, too).
A physical book… ahh! So easy to flip back through the pages to a particular place to double-check something (‘uhrr.. think it was near the beginning… or maybe nearer to halfway? No, that’s not the page, but it’s close…’)
But audiobooks! Haven’t had time to hear a whole one yet, but currently having THE best of times hearing author friends from around the world reading their own flash fiction stories as podcasts. The accents are wonderful, completely over-riding any lack of professionalism. They have a charm that money can’t buy, as the individuals put the emphasis on their words in exactly the way they wrote them and desired them to sound. The possibilities of audiobooks are wonderful.
I hope to do much more in that direction.
Find Christine at the links below!
Children’s Book Site: ceedee4kids
Facebook: Christine Larsen–Author