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Paula has worked as a print journalist and government communication specialist, and is now one half of a writer-designer consultancy. She has been writing fiction for many years, finding her niche penning gritty young adult speculative thrillers with an Australian flavour in The Rephaim series and The Undercurrent.
Where were you born?
I was born in Port Pirie, South Australia, and spent my teen years in the Flinders Ranges. Before I turned 19, I packed up my HQ Holden and headed to Brisbane to continue my cadet journalism career – I’ve been here ever since.
What other jobs have you had?
I was a print journalist for 13 years, covering rounds from police and courts to human interest and politics. During that time I was also book, film and TV reviewer.
From newspapers, I moved into government communications and headed up media and marketing teams at Logan City Council and Redland City Council. This involved writing speeches for the Mayor, as well as managing media relations and writing corporate publications. I have worked with the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services, and led communication and stakeholder support for an innovative initiative called Logan: City of Choice, which involved all three levels of government, as well as community and non-government organisations.
What themes are recurring in your stories?
Like many writers, I like to explore how people deal with the consequences of their actions. With the Rephaim series, I’ve given that theme a twist by having a narrative character dealing with the consequences of actions she doesn’t remember. I also tend to write about characters who feel they don’t belong – and how they learn to be okay with that.
In The Undercurrent, I speculate what Australia might look like in the near future if the current economic decline continues. The novel is set 10-15 years down the track, in an Australia where the government has had to turn to alternative investment opportunities to generate revenue. That includes outsourcing some military operations, imposing specific agricultural practices on farmers, and accepting nuclear waste for storage/dumping. All four narrative characters in The Undercurrent have failed in one way or another – not always their fault, but a reality for them nevertheless. Because of those failures and the economic realities in which they exist, they find themselves making difficult and life-changing choices.
What have been the highlights of your career?
After writing for 16 years (with five other manuscripts in my bottom draw), the four-book contract with Text Publishing for the Rephaim series (Shadows, Haze Shimmer and Burn) changed my life. To then have Text sign a new stand-alone book, The Undercurrent, was another major moment.
Other highlights since being published have included being a part of Somerset Celebration of Literature, Voices on the Coast, Brisbane Writers Festival, Supanova, and residencies in South East Queensland schools. I love interacting with readers, and helping students hone their creative writing skills.
Where have your works been published?
The Rephaim series (Shadows, Haze, Shimmer and Burn) are published in Australia and New Zealand (Text Publishing), the US/Canada (Tundra Books/Penguin Random House Canada) and the United Kingdom (Indigo/Hachette’s Children’s Group). The series has also been translated into Turkish by Yabanci Yayinlari.
The Undercurrent (released 31 July 2017 by Text Publishing) is currently available in Australia and New Zealand.
Haven’t I seen you before?
You may have seen a (much younger) headshot in my journalism days, or you may have come along to see my play (with the cumbersome title of Double bourbon, a backseat and a book) when it had performances seasons with Phoenix Ensemble a few years back (I wrote the play – I wasn’t in it!)
Anything else you’d like to share with us?
Before I was signed with Text Publishing I was an avid blogger and had two book review sites: Great Stories – (mostly literary novels) and Other Worlds –(fantasy, paranormal etc). I only ever reviewed books I bought or borrowed from the library. I now only keep my author blog updated, but still post the occasional review on Goodreads. My author website is www.paula-weston.com.
I’m also a Stella Schools Ambassador, a program that aims to inspire change and empower young people by encouraging them to critically engage with their own reading habits and imagine a future not limited by their gender. http://thestellaprize.com.au/schools/
Paula is an excellent visitor. She is very generous with her time. She relates well with the girls and gives them great advice on how to write well.
Paula was great. She was very approachable, knowledgeable and a joy to have at the College. I would not change a thing with Paula’s presentations.
Paula was very generous with her time with the girls. She was able to relate to the students in a practical way to give them valuable tips for writing their short stories, based on a Brisbane setting. In her workshops with the girls, she showed how the perspective of the character in relation to setting was important for setting the mood. She read from her own novels and from novels she admires. Hopefully the girls will feel inspired to follow up with more reading and to develop the connection between reading and writing.
During Book Week this year, Paula spoke to a large group of Year 7 students about her journey to becoming a published author and how she goes about writing her books. She kept the group engaged throughout the session and fielded a large number of questions at the end from students who were keen to learn more about being a writer and how to develop stories and characters. It was a fun and informative session, which the students thoroughly enjoyed.
Paula gave an interesting and informative workshop on the basic tools of fantasy writing and was an engaging and entertaining presenter. We appreciated her sharing her own experiences of the writing and publishing processes and all came away inspired and motivated.