In 5 minutes with authorOver60 asks book writers about their literary habits and preferences. Next in this series is Maya Linnell, a writer based in rural Victoria. After working in journalism and public relations, she is now writing fiction and blogging for Romance Writers Australia. Her debut novel, Wildflower Ridge was recently shortlisted for the 2019 Australian Romance Readers Awards.

Over60 talked with Linnell about rural living, Anh Do’s uplifting work, and the literary trope she can’t stand.

Over60: What is your best writing tip?

Maya Linnell: Let yourself write junk! I’ve heard it said that an author doesn’t know what they’re trying to say until they’ve finished the first draft, so give yourself permission to write waffly descriptions and scenes that are likely to be cut in the next draft, just so you can push through and complete the story. Then you can cut the wheat from the chaff.

What book do you think more people should read?

Anh Do’s The Happiest Refugee is uplifting, heart-wrenching and inspiring. I dare someone to read it without smiling.

How has rural living influenced your writing?

I’ve lived in small country towns most of my life, and my office overlooks our paddocks, so my writing days are full of breaks to check on the cows, shoo the chickens off my garden and admire the wallabies, with a sound track of magpies, galahs, honeyeaters and cockatoos. It’s second nature to write about the issues faced by my community, my friends and my family on a regular basis, whether it’s livestock, snakes, succession planning, drought, mental health, good seasons and bad, and of course weather.

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

The Last Voyage of Mrs Henry Parker by Joanna Nell was a heart-warming tale that made me cry, and I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy of Cassie Hamer’s second novel The End of Cuthbert Close which had me laughing every second page. It will be out in March and I know it’ll fly off the shelves.

How do you deal with writer’s block?

I sit at my desk from 9am to midday every weekday while I’m working on my first draft and tell myself the quicker I hit the 1,000 word mark, the quicker I get to do other things, like gardening, baking or sewing. At the moment I’m sewing skirts for my Bottlebrush Creek book tour – encompassing Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia) – and it’s a great incentive to stop me procrastinating or giving in to writers block.

Paperback, e-book or audiobook?

Paperback! After a day at the computer, I can’t stand looking at a screen for leisure. I also love audiobooks for long drives, housework and gardening. We live in the country in a big house, with huge gardens, so I get plenty of listening time!

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

Maya Angelou. She was the first famous person I’d ever heard of with the same name as mine – which was quite unusual in my small country town – and her writing is just beautiful.

What trope grinds your gears?

I love most tropes, but I can’t stand a book that trivialises violence against women. It’s less common these days, but that whole ‘abusive rogue who redeems himself to become the perfect partner’ is never going to work for me.

This article was originally published on Over60.