What was your inspiration for writing WILDLIFE?
There were a few points of departure. One was the idea of a character, Sibylla, who’s not quite sure who she is, navigating her first romantic and sexual relationship, and testing her ideas against some realities. The concept of what constitutes good and bad friendship interested me, too. Why do we sometimes settle for mean friends? In what circumstances might we fail as friends? The setting was also something I wanted to explore – we have a number of schools in Melbourne that also have dedicated campuses out of the city where groups of students board for a whole term, and combine outdoor education with the usual academic curriculum. My husband went to one of these schools, and I was always intrigued about the extra pressure – and extra fun – that accompanies this experience, away from many of the usual support structures. I was looking at themes of jealousy and betrayal, and so Othello was an inspiration and a reference point for me, too. The character, Holly, is loosely based on Iago. Death and grieving are explored in the character Lou’s story. So, I had all those things – and the loops and links between them – in mind.
How long did you work on the book?
About three years. There was some overlap with the books on either side of it.
How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?
My first book, Six Impossible Things, was published. I’ve only written three books – one still in progress. So, no rejections so far. I wrote TV scripts for twelve years, so I had a lot of writing experience before writing and submitting SIT. Even so, I spent a long time on it, five drafts, at least, over more than three years. And big drafts – story structure changes, and things like changing it from past tense to present tense – all before I submitted it. The other thing is that I do a lot of planning, so I do plenty of my own rejecting at that stage.
What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?
For years I worked at home, but for the last seven years I’ve had a small office away from home, which I really appreciate. I need a quiet atmosphere for working. I could never even do my school homework if I had music playing. I don’t know how people work in a coffee shop. The distractions! I’d feel self-conscious sitting with my laptop – as though I were trying to look like a writer. Then if I were staring into space for minutes at a time – which I do half the day – I’d imagine people judging me: wow, she’s not doing much writing, for a writer. And I’d be worried about how much coffee I should be drinking. How many coffees per hour would justify my space in the room? Also, when you really do a lot of writing, your workstation has to be set up properly, or you hurt your back, neck, shoulders, wrists. When I’m writing a first draft I don’t let myself leave work until I’ve written my word count for the day. I write down the daily, accumulating word count, a page per month. It’s surprisingly encouraging seeing it there, growing a little bit at a time.
What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
The best writing advice I ever got was from a screenwriting teacher: finish it. You can’t even begin to make something work until the rewriting starts. Lots people have good ideas, and can write good sample chapters – but it’s a much smaller number who persevere with the hard slog of draft after draft after draft that might result in a well-written manuscript, and lead to publication. And the other thing is that I think characters and story ideas are more likely to wander into a quiet mind. So, the advice that relates to that is to give yourself some quiet time when you can. (Easier said than done.)
What are you working on now?
The second draft of my third book, Cloudwish.
ABOUT THE BOOK
by Fiona Wood
During a semester in the wilderness, sixteen-year-old Sib expects the tough outdoor education program and the horrors of dorm life, but friendship drama and an unexpected romance with popular Ben Capaldi? That will take some navigating.
New girl Lou has zero interest in fitting in, or joining in. Still reeling from a loss that occurred almost a year ago, she just wants to be left alone. But as she witnesses a betrayal unfolding around Sib and her best friend Holly, Lou can't help but be drawn back into the land of the living.
Fans of Melina Marchetta, Rainbow Rowell, and E. Lockhart will adore this endearing and poignant story of first love, true friendship, and going a little bit wild.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Fiona Wood has been writing television scripts for the last ten years on shows ranging from MDA and The Secret Life of Us, to Home and Away and Neighbours. Six Impossible Things is her first YA novel. She lives in Melbourne with her husband, two YAs and a bad old dog.