Fleur Ferris: I'm a mother of three, NSW Rice farmer, ex Victoria Police Officer, ex-paramedic for the South Australian Ambulance Service and Ambulance Victoria, and now writer of Young Adult and Middle Grade fiction. The three books I have out are all contemporary thrillers.
GR: Sounds busy! How long have you been writing as a serious pursuit?
FF: Maybe since 2012... my first book came out in 2015 but I had been very heavily focussed on writing for publication a few years before that.
FF: Risk was my 6th completed novel.
GR: Interesting! Did you pursue publication (before or after) with any of the others?
FF: Yes. I pursued publication with Novel Number 5. That’s the book that got me an agent (Curtis Brown Australia), however the novel was rejected. Penguin Random House said they liked it and asked if I would make some changes and resubmit it. I submitted Risk along with the new draft of Number 5. Risk was the one they offered a contract for.
GR: I was going to ask how many rejections it took to get to the magic yes, but it sounds like Risk wasn't sent elsewhere? How many rejections did you go through to get your agent, and for book #5?
FF: Curtis Brown was the first agency to read my work. I was fortunate enough to meet with my agent, Tara Wynne, at the Write Around the Murray Festival in Albury and a number of weeks later I was offered representation. I received five rejections for Novel 5 before re-submitting it and Risk to Penguin Random House. They were the only publisher to read Risk.
GR: Do you still work with Tara now, or directly with someone from PRH?
FF: Tara is still my agent now.
GR: After reaching your publication goals with Risk (and a fair bit of success, it must be said!), did you feel a lot of pressure for the next book (was that Black?)?
FF: Black was my second book. I wrote Black while I waited to hear from publishers about Novel 5 and Risk. It was completed and I had already accepted an offer from Penguin Random House before Risk came out. So, no, I didn't feel any pressure until I sat down to write Wreck.
GR: How long did the process take from being offered a contract to release day? Has it changed at all now that you're established in the industry with a fanbase?
FF: I signed a contract for Risk one year before it came out, then the same for Black. Once I had Risk and Black out on the shelves things did change. We pitched Wreck and my 2018 release to my publisher with a synopsis/outline, so I was under contract for those two before they were written.
GR: Am I allowed to ask what your 2018 release will be called (I saw someone joke that your "thing" is single word titles with a K)? Or if it has a release date yet?
FF: The title hasn't been confirmed yet, but I'm quite sure it will be another one word title. I am yet to find out if it will end in a K because the working title doesn't. If the marketing team want to continue running with that, the title will be changed. The first three titles were the working titles that I chose. The proposed release date is July 2018
GR: Who is involved your the editing process these days? Do you have friends/family/beta readers that you ask to give feedback on your drafts, or do you send it straight to your professional editor?
FF: I have an editor and publisher at Penguin Random House working with me, but I also have friends, family and beta readers helping me out at various stages of the process. My readers are a very generous and mixed group and include secondary teachers, writers, and avid readers who love thrillers.
GR: I've been talking to a few people about how hard it can be to make an income from full-time writing, and how most Australian writers have to supplement with other jobs and related work (e.g. school talks, teaching writing courses). How much of your time do you spend writing (and editing, marketing) your fiction vs other work?
FF: I help run a farm and this is time consuming at certain times of the year and then quiet at other times. I'm also a speaker with Booked Out Speakers Agency, so I do school visits, talks and present at festivals. I am finding I am doing more promoting with each book, as more requests come in as I grow as an author. I also run workshops.
Do you think being Australian has influenced your writing and the stories you tell much?
FF: Yes. Definitely. Although the themes in my books are universal, my stories are set in Australia and have Australian characters.
GR: Has YA fiction always been a passion of yours, or just where you ended up?
FF: No. I am passionate about fiction for all age categories. My first three novels were adult. My next three were Young Adult. I write Young Adult because it was a Young Adult book that made it over the line and got published. I also have my first Middle Grade novel coming out in 2019; it was written after Risk and before Black.
GR: Interesting. What about in your own reading? What sorts of things do you enjoy reading?
FF: I read lots of LoveOzYA now in any genre. Thrillers (adult and YA) are my favourite.
I seem to love popular fiction.
Some favourites include, Nicole Hayes, Rebecca James, Ellie Marney, Gabrielle Tozer, Trinity Doyle, Rachael Craw, Emily Gale, Nova Weetman, Will Kostakis, Shivaun Plozza, Robert Newton... my list goes on and on and on. There are so many great LoveOzYA authors
GR: I'm loving LoveOzYA as a place for recommendations! I was just about to ask if you particularly seek out other Aussie authors, but you seem to have answered it ;)
Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me.
FF: Thank you for chatting with me
You can find Fleur online at www.fleurferris.com and on twitter, instagram and facebook.