You know that feeling you get when you read a really excellent novel and then get to meet the author? Hmm, no, me neither! But, drumroll…I am about to bring you the next best thing…the latest edition of Behind the Pen! Today I have great pleasure in welcoming Anna Daniels, author of the highly entertaining recent release, Girl in Between.
When did you start writing Girl in Between?
I started writing Girl in Between in the middle of 2013. Originally, I’d titled it Rocky Road, because of the setting, and, funnily enough, it actually started out as a screenplay before I changed tact and completed it as a novel.
What was the inspiration behind Girl in Between?
I was 32 when I began writing Girl in Between, and I kept hearing the same concerns and dreams echoed throughout my circle of friends, and I thought there were some unique themes which I could capture…like the sense of being in a much more grown up decade than your twenties, but also feeling like you’re not that sensible, and haven’t got everything figured out yet. I also wanted to write a book that not only made people laugh, but also connected with readers on an emotional level, and I’ve heard that my book has been making people laugh and cry, so I’m pleased with that outcome.
What was your favourite character from Girl in Between and why?
Denise Crighton, Lucy’s mum, and her best friend, Rosie, were both wonderful characters to write. I could go to town with some of Denise’s lines, and I had a ball finding motivational Cher quotes for her to roll out to her daughter! Similarly, Rosie was a joy to write because she’s so liberating in that she doesn’t care what people think of her, and is so unapologetic about how she lives her life that she holds a great place in my heart!
What was your favourite scene from Girl in Between and why?
I completely cracked myself up writing the scene where Lucy and Rosie go adventure dating at the Whipcrack Hotel! I wrote the majority of Girl in Between over six months last year from my unit, and my neighbours must have thought I was mad. I was laughing my head off as Rosie was flashing the lead singer of the cover band whilst jumping up and down to their version of The Horses by Daryl Braithwaite!
How would you best describe this novel to a new reader?
Girl in Between is very fun and Aussie, and captures two best friends, and their hilarious cast of supporting characters, as they attempt to sort out life at the crossroads.
Having read your short bio, I have to wonder how much of yourself and your own experiences were woven into Girl in Between. Entirely fiction or fiction with a sprinkle of real life personal history?
Ha ha! I often get asked this question a lot, but I can safely say that although there are similarities between the main character, Lucy, and I…we’re both journalists, both own kelpies, and are both very good looking ; ) Girl in Between is very much a work of fiction. I did draw on some of my own life experiences, like running amok in Japanese mud baths, and living in London, which I hope resonated with authenticity for readers. Oh, and of course Lucy and I both grew up in Rockhampton! How could I forget that! I love Rocky, and I tried to capture life in a regional town in a funny and affectionate light.
Have you had to deal with a situation where someone feels they recognise traits of themselves in one of the characters from Girl in Between?
It’s funny that you ask that, because a lot of my friends try to claim that Rosie is based on themselves, when in fact she’s based on no-one in particular, and is more an amalgam of lots and different pieces of people I know, and the bestie every girl wishes they had!
The bond between Lucy and her dog was so lovely. Is Glenda based on a real pet you have or have had at some stage?
Yes, absolutely. Growing up, we had the most gorgeous poodle called Ziggy, who was a great friend to us all, and really seemed to be tuned into our moods! And now, I have the most beautiful kelpie, called Banjo. I adore her!
What other genre would you like to try your hand at writing and why?
I’d really love to be involved with a script writing team, and adapting Girl in Between for the small screen. As mentioned earlier, Girl in Between originally started out as a screenplay, so hopefully it will come full circle, and I will have the opportunity to be involved with a production team as a screen writer. In terms of other genres, I love travel writing, children’s writing, and also would be keen to try my hand at writing funny, non-fiction type essays and columns like Benjamin Law and David Sedaris.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I love the beach! I’m a bit of a water baby and always enjoy doing laps at the pool or bobbing up and down in the sea and body surfing in on the waves. Growing up in CQ, we had a very outdoorsy lifestyle, so I love getting out and about, going for walks and exploring new areas. I’m also a mad keen reader and have a great group of friends that I love catching up with.
Do you have an all-time favourite book? Why is this book so significant to you?
Tough question! There are so many books that I love, and have shaped me at different times of my life, but one that really stands out for me is Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta. I remember reading this as a 12 year-old in Grade 7 at St Peter’s Primary School in Rocky and I just thought it was brilliant. Like many fans of this book, I thought Josephine Alibrandi was speaking just to me, and I really resonated as a young girl with her voice and story. I thought Melina Marchetta was amazing, and I still think she is today. Her books continue to be so beloved, and it was a great thrill for me to meet her and tell her about my book at last year’s Brisbane Writers Festival.
If you could write a letter to your teenage self, what would be your main piece of advice?
Do what you love and follow the fun, because therein lies the secret to what makes you happy, and it will be so much easier to work at what makes you happy, rather than what doesn’t. Also, double denim is never a good idea.
Can you tell us something about yourself that not many people would know?
When I was eight, I painted a picture for my Grade 3 teacher and on the back, I wrote the words, ‘Some day I will be famous!’ My teacher still has it hanging in her house to this day, and she recently came to my book launch in Rocky and told everyone what I had written on the back! Too funny! I hadn’t seen her since Grade 3, so it was a terrific surprise.
How has being Australian AND a woman impacted on your writing and/or writing career?
Being Australian has very much impacted on my writing in Girl in Between! Many people are loving the Aussie slang, locations and turns of phrase being used, and of course that comes from a place of authenticity with me. In terms of being a woman, a turning point in my writing career came about when I was shortlisted for The Vogel Awards, and I met another likeminded woman, the fabulous publisher, Louise Thurtell, who really championed me as a debut author…so I think in this industry it’s really wonderful when women support other women on their writing journey.
Girl in Between has also been released as an audiobook through Audible, did you have much say in that recording process?
Well, funnily enough, I auditioned to be the narrator for Girl in Between, but didn’t get the part! But I must say that Aimee Horne does a terrific job. She also narrated Zoe Foster-Blake’s The Wrong Girl, and has a brilliant sense of comic timing, so I’m very pleased with the outcome.
How can we keep track of what you’re up to next?
I’ve got a lot of different events and book signings coming up over August in Brisbane, and am then heading down to Sydney for more of the same! Best way to keep in touch with me is on my Facebook Page, Anna Daniels-Author. I’m also on Instagram @annamdaniels and Twitter @annadtweets.
Haven’t yet read Girl in Between? Here’s a clip of Anna reading from the first chapter of Girl in Between for an appearance at her former high school in Rockhampton.
And to seal the deal, here’s Anna’s dad, Wayne Daniels, to convince you with his endorsement…
It’s not hard to see where Anna gets her humour! A huge thanks is extended to Anna Daniels for joining in with Behind the Pen for this week. It’s been utterly brilliant having the opportunity to get to know her better. You can read my review of Girl in Between here and also watch the official book trailer from Allen and Unwin below.