This post will have to last you a few weeks I’m going on holiday with my guys and we’ll be meeting up in Perth with more family from the UK. Despite being busy with organising the dog, dusting off suitcases and digging out some warmer clothes I still managed to hop over the Bass Straight to Tasmania. I’m actually at the Salamanca Markets in Hobart with June Perkins. It’s a whistle-stop tour as she has to get back to feed the kids – travel by magic carpet is awesome. We’ve decided on takeaway coffee so we can browse the hundreds of stalls and capture the atmosphere. I like being on cobbled streets – a reminder Newcastle upon Tyne; my home town in England.
We have to choose something naughty to eat before we begin so we wander over to the Salamanca Bakehouse and buy an assortment of oven fresh pastries – yummy.
As we ogle some gorgeous handcrafted jewellery I ask June what her latest project is.
“I’m working on a book of stories and poems about life set in tropical Queensland, illustrated with my photographs; with drawings and design by my high school friend Paulien Bats from Holland who has also recently visited the area. The book is aimed at families, and is for parents and grandparents to read with their children. It will be out later in the year or early 2014.”
June has supplied one of Paulien’s illustrations as a little teaser.
But this is only one project – June goes on to say, “Also working on the first book in what I hope to be a regular fantasy series. It will be influenced by life in the north with lots of imagination thrown in and of course I keep my blogs, Pearlz Dreaming and there’s projects coming off that blog and a photo exhibition for later in the year.”
This woman has three kids and a husband. It’s amazing how squeezing little bit of writing into a busy life can still see the project come to fruition. June agrees with me that the writing moments are the secret to sanity. However she’s not finished. Another ongoing project is short films.
I’d love to be able to bottle the atmosphere, the colour and smells of this market.
I notice June is also highly dextrous. She’s drinking herbal tea, eating baked cheesecake, talking and taking photographs all at the same time – multi-tasking all the way. June tells me that one of her recent successes was working on a contract with ABC open, “I was employed as lead moderator and a team editor on a special project ‘500 words’, which has given me the chance to read lots of stories as well as contribute several stories on the theme. Working in a 500 word non-fiction format has been brilliant for learning to be succinct but also creative in a short format, online form. I’ve written lots of stories, and enjoy interpreting the themes and seeing how others approach them.”
June was also heavily involved in the ABC aftermath project – writing, making and editing digital stories and blogs on the recovery process after cyclone Yasi.
And that’s not all. In 2012 June was awarded an Australia Day culture award for her voluntary work with ABC open and for co-producing a local writing anthology Under One Sky and five years of mentoring local writers. When does she sleep?
“And finally,” June smiles, “interviewing Shane Howard, writer of the song, Solid Rock, for Bushtv has been a definite highlight – I’d love to do more studies and interviews with talented songwriters.”
We’ve found a quiet spot to sit awhile as June ponders on her worst moments as a writer. “I think probably protecting our writing groups’ anthologies in Cyclone Yasi and hoping they wouldn’t be damaged. Also my nanowrimo novel which has sat dormant for five years, but finally I think I can write the germ of the idea into a book.”
She never quits does she?
June really is one very talented lady. We’re concentrating on her writing which leads her into poetry, short story, novels and song writing, but she is a prolific photographer, multi-media guru, film maker. She also has a lovely singing voice.
When I ask her what advice she would give to an aspiring writer she had this to say, “Persevere and try many genres, practice writing every day using prompts from online, life and books, write the best that you possibly can, build connections with your readers through your writing and make use of social platforms to attract and create loyal readers, write what you feel passionate about and learn about digital and non-traditional publishing and contracts.”
When I ask the biggy – “Why do you write?” June laughs, “Because I love to share stories to inspire people to make the most of their lives, and appreciate all that is around them. I love putting photographs together with inspirational words, my own and those of others. Writing is like breathing, and I can’t imagine life without written expression, and am grateful for having access to this skill. My Dad taught me to read and write when I was little before school and my Mum and Dad always told us stories. I think it’s important to impart a love of stories, reading, writing and telling, at a young age.”
Every writer I have interviewed in my virtual coffee series has said in one way or another that writing is so hugely important, it’s simply a part of who they are – they need to write just as they need to breathe, eat and sleep.
Check out June’s blog Pearlz Dreaming http://pearlz.wordpress.com/
Full of wonderful writing and beautiful photographs.
So as the air chills in Hobart we hop back onto the magic carpet and head for the warmth of home.
Thank you June for your thoughts and inspiration.