One of the things we want to do here at Trust & Treachery is give you a chance to get to meet our authors. Over the next few weeks, you will see bios and Q&As for our amazing contributors. Although we continue to run behind in our posting schedule, today is J.R. McRae. Stay tuned as additional authors are added every Monday.
Best, Editors, Trust & Treachery
J.R. McRae (Also writing as J.R. Poulter)
J.R.McRae once worked in a circus. This qualifies her for a lot of imaginative things like writing and artwork. Her work’s appeared in anthologies like Basics of Life [ALR], 100 Stories for Queensland, Stories for Sendai, Road Trip, The Spirit of Poe, Tribute to the Stars, Pot Luck, Trust and Treachery etc, and journals Wired Ruby and Rose &Thorn. Her award winning poetry/haiku are published in numerous journals/ anthologies including Quadrant, Quadrant Book of Poetry 2001-2010, Bound by the Secrets We Hide, Long and Winding Road, Antipodes, Social Alternatives and Divan. Artwork / photography by JR features on covers of Vine Leaves, Ripples, on ABC Pool and in The Mozzie and Vine Leaves. As J.R. Poulter, she is the author of 12 books & 4 digital books for children and education in the UK, USA and Australia, including Crichton Award winner, MENDING LUCILLE. Her 13th traditionally print published book is due out September 2012 with Windy Hollows. J.R. Poulter also engages in editorial writing (WQ Magazine,The Courier Mail, Magpies Journal of Critical Review for Children’s Literature, Queensland Country Life and more). She has taken workshops and readings for ETAQ Conferences, SCWBI International Conference, Brisbane Poetry Festival, Kyeema Arts Festival [Arts Qld Funded], Channel 7 Family Picnic, Opening of BCC Central City Library, Mountains to Mangroves, Book Week and more. A former senior librarian, senior education officer and associate lecturer in English Expression to international postgraduates at UQ, she also once worked as a full-time Book Reviewer for the Queensland Education Department. You can find her at: http://www.jrmcrae_subversive.weebly.com. She’s also active on Facebook and Twitter (@JeRuMcRae).
Do you have any recent events to announce (of publications or anything else exciting)?
I have poetry published in leading anthologies, the just released Quadrant Book of Poetry, 2001-2010 and in Bound by the Secrets We Hide coming out late this year. A new picture book for all ages with the narrative verse story, “Fox Shadows”, is coming out in September with Windy Hollow Books and will be illustrated by award winning illustrator Laura Peterson.
What inspired you to write this story?
Partially, very dark family history on my mother’s side of the family – think medieval weddings at sword-point, murder, attempted murders, a sinister predator who haunted the dark – and, partially, a fascination for the sort of history that doesn’t get into history books.
What books and/or authors have most influenced you?
Nabokov’s work, Shakespeare’s plays, Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings”, Dylan Thomas’ “Under Milkwood”, the Psalms of David, the Book of Job, Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass”, Kahil Gibran, Bunyan, Dostoyevsky, Ogden Nash, Solzhenitsyn and many more…
What are you reading now?
I’m reviewing “Hidden Kingdom” by award winning author and illustrator, Ian Beck , and reading ‘discovery’ Craig Stone’s “The Squirrel that Dreamt of Madness”.
What are your current projects?
A couple of novels that I must ‘get a go on’ with; numbers of projects for children’s books and an illustrated collection of my own narrative verse. I’m itching to do a visual arts and creative crafts course – I want to learn more about creating visuals to augment my work.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
BE passionate about what you do – if you lack passion you will not keep going – it is a tough field and only your passion, the knowledge that this IS you and this IS what you do best will keep you, sustain you on the journey. Writing is a life long journey, a constantly climbing learning curve! Be prepared to learn, to diversify, to innovate and to think laterally.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Enjoy! If you do enjoy, let the author know – your approbation says to us we are getting it right – we are providing you with a rewarding experience, we are entertaining you, making you laugh, cry, think, want to know more…
What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why?
Ecclesiastes 10:10 when the obvious doesn’t work and might doesn’t work, you need wisdom and divinely inspired wisdom will work.
What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life?
Healthy children, five of them, that’s number one and, after that, the ongoing challenge and excitement of creative writing, the buzz of getting accepted and the thought that what you are writing is relating to others and they are deriving pleasure from it.
What inspires you to write and why?
Everything inspires – the world is so full of wonder – you never know what is around the corner, anything could happen next! Why do I write – because I always have, I want to , I need to – it is me expressing the world according to me and my taking what I can’t control and gaining some sway over it. It is a survival tool and an outlet for an active imagination.
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
Judith Wright said to me as a child, ‘write quality, not quantity’. Basically I interpreted that as needing to edit more – who likes to edit… yuck! But it is rewarding, especially if you allow space to be able to step back from your work and look at it objectively. You can’t be precious [also implied in her statement], you have to see that there is always room for improvement. Nabokov did over 30 drafts for each book!
The best compliment – every time one of my works is accepted by a publisher or editor, every time someone says ‘I enjoyed that read!’.
Tell us something unusual (or fun) about you.
My first real job was in a circus. Loved it! An American sociologist was traveling with the troupe and studying circus life. I had just graduated with majors in sociology and anthropology. Next, I was offered a job as Liaison Officer with Aboriginal and Island Affairs – great, I thought, I’d love that! Then I was told my first placement – lone white woman on Mornington Island, rowing monsoon swollen rivers… I wasn’t a powerful rower so I saw myself drowning… No, I wanted to live longer than that. I resigned and kept knocking at the door of the State Librarian till he relented and gave me a job. I worked in reference finding recipes for shrinking human heads, facts about folk’s ancestors that they then didn’t want to know, rediscovering lost customs and legends of island tribes off our coast, researching designs for street litter bins and then I moved to Rare Books. That was a kind of heaven – the then State Librarian was gathering a collection of rare illustrated books from all over the world – the beauty of these exquisite books has stayed with me and been an ongoing inspiration!