Guest blog: Jo Hart

Poor Jo! She’s been waiting for me to put this blog up for nearly two weeks and I’ve been rather slack!

Jo has her short story in Australian Literature: A Snapshot in 10 Short Stories and that was how we hooked up, as mine is in there too.

Here she talks about her story, daily writing and her life. Welcome Jo and I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to put this up!

1) Tell us a bit about yourself and your writing

I live in rural Australia with my husband and children. I’m a primary school teacher, but I’m taking a break from teaching at the moment. Writing has always been a part of me. I tend to write for a younger readership, from picture books through to young adult fiction, though I also write short stories for adult readers. I have two short stories due for release over the next few weeks: one in Aus Lit’s anthology and another in the charity anthology 100 Stories for Queensland (to raise funds for those affected by the disasters earlier in the year).

2) Your story Angel Blood is in Aus Lit’s anthology. Where did the inspiration come from?

I wanted to try my hand at a paranormal romance type story, but I wanted to veer away from the usual vampire and werewolf themes, so I had the idea of using angels and demons. As it happens, the story ended up being more mystery than romance, as I’m more naturally inclined to write mystery/adventure type stories than love stories.

3) Short stories are known for the twists and the end, that keeps people guessing and yours is no exception. Did you know what the twist would be when you first started writing?

I did. I had the idea right from the start and wrote the story to lead into the twist.

4) Is fantasy writing and reading your first love? And who has inspired you to write like this?

Yes, most definitely. My love of the fantasy genre stems from reading Enid Blyton’s Faraway series at age seven. Since then I’ve been inspired by a number of fantasy authors: Emily Rodda’s Rowan of Rin series, J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series and, more recently, Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse novels are among some of my favourites.

Although I don’t always write fantasy, most often I’m drawn to writing fantasy stories of some description. My second love is mystery. I love stories that keep me guessing.

5) Is writing your main job and what does a normal day for you hold?

I split my time between several roles. As I mentioned above, I’m not teaching at the moment. I’ve taken time off teaching to be at home with my kids, to help my husband out on the farm and to focus on my writing.

I don’t really have a normal day, because every day is different. My kids are typical farm kids and are usually up at the crack of dawn. If they’re playing quietly first thing in the morning I can sometimes get a little bit of writing in (though I generally need a little time to wake up with a cuppa first). After breakfast, from nine o’clock onwards, things get busy. The kids have kinder, playgroup and swimming to run around to. I go into town one day a week to shop and pay bills. I have one day a week dedicated to all the paperwork for the farm. I don’t do a lot of work on the farm itself at the moment (it can be a bit hard with two littlies tagging along), but every now and then I’m needed for some job or other (like mucking out the calf sheds or herding cattle). Then of course there’s all that mundane stuff, like washing, cooking and cleaning (two of our workers live with us, so I have two extra men to feed, though I’m finally training them to do their own washing and have a turn at the dishes every now and then).

I sometimes get some writing or revising done in the afternoon either in the hour before I pick my son up from kinder while my daughter plays quietly, or after I pick him up if my daughter goes down for a nap and he has some quiet time.

I’m lucky that because my kids are early risers, they also like to go to bed early. That’s when I get most of my writing done, after they go to bed.

Bio: Jo Hart lives on a farm in rural Australia with her husband and two children. Jo mostly writes children’s fiction (from picture books to teen), but she also writes short stories for adult readers. Her short story ‘Angel Blood’ can be found in Australian Literature: A Snapshot in 10 Short Stories and her short story ‘A Penny for a Wish’ can be found in 100 Stories for Queensland. She blogs on the craft of writing at http://thegracefuldoe.wordpress.com/ You can find her on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JoHartAuthor and Twitter: http://twitter.com/gracefuldoe

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