As a writer, it follows that you are a reader. Or perhaps it is the other way, that as a reader, you begin to write. I was a reader first, my parents reading stories to me from birth. Both English teachers and lovers of words, they introduced me to the world of literature early, and I have done the same with my 3 sons. I would read constantly. I was one of those people who actually walked around the house reading a book, unable to put it down. As soon as I was able to write, I began to create stories, poetry, worlds made from my imagination. When I spoke about wanting to be a writer, the teachers encouraged me towards journalism, rather than creative writing. As a consequence, I spent many years of my life trying to fill the gaping hole where creative writing was supposed to be. I wrote poetry through many years of my life, but never ventured into fiction, until now.
When I became a blogger back in 2001, and then a social media nerd, making this new place of connections and online words my home, I mostly stopped reading books, other than the ones I read to my children. I read each night to all 3 of my boys until middle primary school, when they began wanting to read their own books before sleeping. My 10 year old has recently begun this part of his life. This was the same for seeing movies that were not kids films – until the invention of Netflix and Stan (thank you television Gods). I spent so much of my time reading words on screens, that I gradually moved away from reading words in books. Occasionally, on holidays, I would pick up a book and if it was one that engaged me, would return to my youth, spending every minute reading until it was over.
What led me back to books was making the decision to write fiction. I just woke up one morning a few months ago, my brain addled with the rather distressing process of completing my PhD, and said, “Enough now. Enough.” It was time to start writing stories. As I started this process of creating characters, designing worlds, dancing along the narratives coming thick and fast, I picked up a book. And then another book. I started to connect with the writing community through social media and discovered my true people. I began buying and borrowing books again. Now, I have my first middle-grade Australian family drama novel completed and ready to publish, and my second one, a middle-grade fantasy, underway. I have a pile of books in my to-read pile. I am the happiest I have been in years, despite that dreaded PhD still lingering for a few more months.
I have decided that sharing books is the next step in this being an Author thing, and the renewal of my book love. So I am starting the Write Book Club! Each month I will share the books I am reading, and will review some of them here. I will chat on social media with the hashtag #thewritebookclub You can join me, and hopefully we will grow a community of readers and writers. I would love you to read some of the books I am reading, and share your thoughts. I would also love to hear your suggestions for books to read – I love to read any middle-grade and young adult fiction, adult fiction that is about people and their lives, or adult fantasy, and books about sustainability, the planet and our natural world. Recommendations on any of these topics would be welcomed with open arms.
The Write Book Club Book for November-December
For the first book, I want to share one that has captivated me – “The Hidden Life of Trees – What They Feel, How They Communicate—Discoveries From a Secret World” by Peter Wohlleben. I am reading this and another magical book, “The Wild Trees” by Richard Preston. Both of these are helping me research for my new book, tentatively called, “The Forest Keepers”. It is a middle-grade fantasy and I am absolutely loving the process of writing the story – I will share more about this soon.
This book answers the question – Are trees social beings? I have always thought so, and my love affair with trees goes back to my childhood. I instinctively reach out to touch trees, resting my face on their bark. I often talk to trees and feel as if they are looking out for me. In this book, forester and author Peter Wohlleben convincingly makes the case that the forest is indeed a community, with a network of communication channels.
The book is beautifully written and easy to engage with. When reading it, I feel as if I have entered the forest and laid down beneath the spreading canopy. The scent of eucalptus and pine is my nostrils, dappled light falling across my face, while I listen to the gentle language of the trees, and Mr Wohlleben teaches me the truths about trees, truths I have always suspected. It is both lyrical and grounded in facts. He uses groundbreaking scientific discoveries to describe how trees are like our own families – there are tree parents and their children, communicating with each other, supporting their young ones to grow, sharing nutrients with those who are sick or struggling, and even warning other trees of impending dangers. I am part way through this remarkable book and would love you to pick it up and have a read. If you have already read it, please also join us across the rest of the month, in sharing your thoughts on the book, and on trees – use #thewritebookclub on Instagram and Twitter, and join us on Facebook too.
I look forward to reading, and writing, with you,