5 minutes with author Frances Whiting

In 5 minutes with authorOver60 asks book writers about their literary habits and preferences. Next in this series is Frances Whiting, a novelist, feature writer and columnist based in Brisbane. She published two collections of her columns – Oh to Be a Marching Girl in 2003 and That's a Home Run, Tiger! in 2006 – before releasing her debut novel Walking on Trampolines in 2009. Her second novel, The Best Kind of Beautiful is out now.

Over60 talked with Whiting about Ernest Hemingway, the detective series she could not get enough of, and the role of panic in her writing.

Over60: What is your best writing tip?

Frances Whiting: I love that quote from Ernest Hemingway: “There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.” It makes me laugh – and wince a little bit – because it’s true. The best writing tip I can give it just to put in the time. A large part of the process is committing to it. Just sitting down, taking a deep breath, and beginning…

What was the last book that made you laugh/cry?

I’ve just discovered Kate Saunders, who writes these lovely mystery series in the vein of Agatha Christie. The protagonist is a genteel lady detective Laetitia Rodd. She is such a delightful and witty character I look forward to reading more of her adventures. The book I read was Laetitia Rodd and the Case of the Wandering Scholar, and I enjoyed it immensely.

What does your writing routine look like?

Panic, most of the time, to be honest. I work full time, I have a teenager, a tweenager, a husband, a 95-year-old mother and a very large dog to take care of, so I squeeze it in between all that! Mostly very early in the morning when the house is quiet, I can get an hour or two in.

Do you deal with writer’s block? If so, how do you overcome it?

Walk. Walk. Walk.

What book do you think more people should read?

When it comes to books, I don’t think the word “should” belongs. Reading is so very personal, isn’t it? But if I wanted to recommend a book that beautifully illustrates the flow and rhythm of writing, I would gift someone any P. G. Wodehouse novel.

How have your other jobs, past and present, influenced your fiction writing?

All of them have in some way. From primary school teacher, waitress, go-go dancer (not really), nanny, event manager, journalist and lecturer, it’s all the stuff of life, isn’t it? Which is the stuff of books!

Which author, deceased or living, would you most like to have dinner with?

Mary Wesley, because books-wise she was a bit of a late bloomer, like me!

What cliché(s) do you wish novels would stop using?

I like to be surprised by books, and I really don’t like it when we can see what is coming a mile away. I hope my books are less obvious to the reader and that when the surprises come, they really are just that. 

This article originally appeared on Over60.