Recently I had the rare (I live in a rural area), and exciting privilege of meeting an amazing author, Hazel Edwards, at my local bookstore, Reader’s Emporium in Traralgon, Victoria. She was in town to visit the region promoting her new book, Not Just a Piece of Cake Being an Author. It is the number 202 book in her books published belt.
After making a visit to Traralgon Secondary College earlier in the day, myself and other interested parties sat down to an informal chat with Hazel. Hazel had attended the school as a teenager while living in the area. Hazel shared about her day at the school, her discussions with the students, as well as her time living in Glengarry at the local General Store.
“Living in a General Store was a great place for a writer. It was the gossip centre,” she said.
Hazel was warm, friendly, and engaging. She was more than willing to share about her writing journey. She chatted to each of individually about why we were there, and to give some helpful advice.
In the group there was: a self-published crime novelist, two ladies who loved her Hippo series, my daughter and me (an emerging children’s book author). It was truly a wonderful and enlightening experience.
Hazel had many pearls of wisdom to share; lessons that she had learnt over the years. Goodness, she has been a writer since she was 20 years old and had many anecdotes to share. Or as Hazel calls them, ‘Anecdultery,’ ‘embellishing and re-telling stories.’ They were hilarious and had us chuckling.
For example, when she was a young child, her very Baptist Grandmother, would read her Bible stories. Hazel kept going to the toilet so that she would miss all the gory bits. When she got to school she had the opportunity to borrow a book from the Grade 2 shelves and… well I think I might let you just read her book to find out what happened, and what the two seemingly completely different stories had to do with each other.
Needless to say, I have nearly finished her memoir. I have found it engaging, and ‘non-boring.’ It was not set out like a normal memoir. There are many anecdotes and stories of Hazel’s life as a writer. These kept me enthralled at times; laughing at others. I now have an even greater realization of the impact a good story can have on a child. Furthermore, as I read of her eight day trip in Western Australia to visit schools and libraries, I was glad that I was in bed and about to go to sleep. I felt exhausted just reading about Hazel’s school visits. It was a full on, flat out trip. Wow!
In reading it however, I discovered what it takes to be an author. The time and energy required. The preparation for author visits. There is so much involved after your book has hit the shelves. Yet it so rewarding to hear that your story has impacted and made a difference in the lives of your readers.
Though I have yet to have a book published, my stories have been read to local school children with very positive feedback. Two years ago, I wrote and illustrated a story specifically for an orphanage that I am connected with in the Philippines. The story was an earlier version of Raymund and the Fear Monster. To this day, they still read and enjoy it. I also gave a copy to a local school teacher who uses it in her classroom.
There is an incredible amount of satisfaction in writing. There is even more when you send ‘your babies out into the world’ (Hazel Edwards) and the readers make the characters their own.
After the talk, Hazel happily signed books, answered any further questions and she gave me some very helpful advice.
So, thank you Hazel, for taking the time to visit with us. I am so pleased that you came. And, though I missed the deadline to apply for a mentorship through the Australian Society of Authors, I most certainly will be applying for the 2016 – 2017 round.
Hazels' book, Not Just a piece of Cake Being an Author, is available through Booktopia and all good bookstores.
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