CC: You won the Holding Redlich pitching competition awarded by the South Pacific Association of Film and Television. As an author you’ve appeared on Bert Newton's 'Good Morning Australia' and Margaret Throsby's 'Desert Island Disks', as well as being extensively profiled in all major newspapers. To what, in broad terms, do you attribute your success?
ER: It’s all about having an interesting angle. If people are going to spend time with you it has to have meaning in their lives as well. For my first novel, about a young woman investigating a bizarre mystery involving her Mexican partner's black widow grandmother, I had major radio pick up across Australia based on a sliding doors angle. I could never have written that novel without having met and fallen in love with a Mexican guy, who was also a foreign correspondent on a tiny, isolated and unromantic Pacific island where we both happened to be at the same moment covering an international story. What are the chances!
CC: How does your background as a foreign correspondent and your work on documentaries, inform your current writing practice?
ER: Like all of us, everything I do, think and feel is a kind of verdant compost for my work. And while I might never write about the massive King I spent time with who had all the power and arrogance of being an absolute ruler in his realm, I will draw on the uneasiness surrounding being a young woman commoner and daring to ask him questions no one had ever had been able to put to him before. However on a practical note my work in reporting and docos has given me tangible skills like discipline, writing into the inspiration instead of waiting for it and meeting deadlines. All core skills in a career which is self-driven.
CC: What do you enjoy about writing for a YA audience?
ER: I’m much more playful in my young adult work, where I write action thrillers, than in my adult fiction. So I love the looseness of the voice that opens up new doors for me, I love the drive and tension and I love being part of creating possibilities for young people. For while my work has a lighter touch in YA, my themes and explorations remain deeply serious. The power in story telling for me is all about its ability to get to a truth and its transformational potential.
CC: Your PhD focuses on “girl warriors,” what interests you about stories about girl warriors?
ER: Okay so where do I start? Now is our moment for girl warriors. Narratives and stories are powerful because they define who we are and who we can be. Up until now, the gates to the action arena have been locked to girls, so they’re had limited access to a warrior kind of power, purpose and passion. There’s so much more opportunity now for girls and guys to go beyond gendered rules and barriers to live fuller, richer, more expanded lives. Yet it’s a complicated thing because so many of our girl warriors still have to prove how feminine they are by getting all dressed up in a twirly ballgown before they can go fight. I really want to get to the bottom of what is going on and what barriers have been crashed through, and what are the ones still standing even if they’re less visible.
CC: What you do you hope participants will take away from this course?
ER: I really want people to walk away feeling empowered because they understand the essence of their own work better. I want people to feel a sense of clarity because they’re able to talk about their work publicly with confidence and I want people to feel inspired to keeping developing as professional writers because they have a greater understanding of another key element of the writing process. It’s always a win when people get closer to the heart of their creative intent and can communicate it.
CC: For writers starting out, what clues might indicate that they might be well suited to screen writing?
ER: As many writers as there are, there are an equal number of ways into story telling. So first clue that screen writing is for you is if you feel called or connected to screen writing. Everything else can be learned. Everything. Most of us have an intuitive narrative head start because we do so much screen time anyway. However if you do tend to write in scenes and find yourself focusing on visual detail, and look for metaphors to communicate internality/subtext/emotions then that’s another clue that you might want to also tell stories on screen.
About Erina Reddan
Erina Reddan is a multi-genre author, a public speaker and a communication expert. A former foreign correspondent and television producer, Erina was awarded a Walkley Award and won the Screen Producers Association of Australia’s pitching competition as well as having successfully pitched a TV youth show, Recovery to ABC TV. She’s working on a PhD in Creative Writing on girl warriors in recent young adult fiction, as well as teaching CEO’s and Exec.s to communicate.