Interview with Creative Gemma Patience
What has your background been before you starting writing?
I work in the helping professions, and have been working as a counsellor for the past ten years. I currently work part-time, and I’m also a mama of two intriguing and endearing small children.
How were you introduced to writing?
Writing has always been something that I have enjoyed doing. I feel that it has always woven its way through my life, waxing and waning, but always there.
When I was studying at uni, I had poetry and short stories published in a university publication. This give me that first buzz from having a book launch and sharing my work with others. It wasn’t until around seven years ago though, that I first started to write with more focus. I wrote a book to support children with the process of counselling called, My Very Own Book About Counselling. It was published by my employer at the time, and is used by professionals in the health and education sectors across NSW. Writing and illustrating the book was a massive learning curve for me. In the years since then, I have learnt so much more about writing and illustrating, and the world of publishing.
What was the one thing that impressed you the most about becoming an author?
Reading my book with children and seeing them connect with the themes, and for them to know they are not alone in their experience. I feel this is the driving force in all my stories.
How is your writing making a difference for you right now?
Right now writing is providing me with a much-needed creative outlet. I have always loved writing, drawing, painting, crafting… and have always had a creative project on the go.
I love that writing can be done in whatever small pockets of spare time you find yourself with. Illustrating is a little more difficult needing space and time for set up and pack up.
As a child, what was your relationship with books?
I was a complete bookworm, a word nerd. I was the kid who would take a book and climb a tree to read, tucked away from the rest of the world. I went through three library cards a year, when the average was one. (Yes, this was pre-computers… I am ‘that’ old). I was the kid who made pictures books, complete with publication details, ISBN, and borrowing cards. My love affair with books didn’t stop at school. While I was at uni, I worked as a bookseller for five years and got to surround myself with books and lovely book-type people, and get paid for it.
What is the most important thing about what you want to do?
I’d like to tell important stories in a beautiful way. I feel drawn to telling stories about the difficult things in life and there is usually a theme of grief and loss. Being a counsellor I try to create characters and stories that explore sensitive issues in a way that balances both the vulnerabilities of children, with their need to process the big issues, and also their potential for resilience.
Do you believe books can change the world?
Yes. Books are not only a way of sharing knowledge and ideas, but also provide a safe sanctuary and give hope in times where hope feels lost.
What do you hope people will take away from your writing?
I hope that people take away a feeling that it is okay to talk to kids about the difficult things in life, that it can be done with honesty and sensitivity, and in a way that is helpful to them.
What is your ultimate goal?
My ultimate goal is to be writing and illustrating full-time. This is a goal for way down the track, but I don’t mind as I’m enjoying the journey so much. I have various projects going on – picture books, junior fiction, freelance articles, and illustration. Sometimes I get frustrated with the juggle of it all, but it is teaching me focus and perseverance. I have also found that each of these creative avenues complements the others, sometimes in ways that I don’t anticipate. I’m also just enjoying being part of a wonderful creative community of like-minded people. It is certainly a very special place to be.
Has Share Your Story helped you in any way?
Share Your Story is such an encouraging source of support for aspiring writers, through the sharing information on the craft of writing and path to publication for new writers. I need more of it in my life!
What results have you experienced, good or bad, about being a part of the publishing industry?
At this stage, my contact with publishers has been limited to seeing them present at conferences, festivals, and writers’ meetings. It is such a relief to see that they are lovely humans who happen to work in the publishing industry, rather than the mythical beasts I had previously imagined! I’m looking forward to having a lot more contact with publishers in the future! I’ll take their calls any day!
If you could have one wish to make the world a better place, what would you wish for?
To make it a safe and equitable place for every person, all of the time.