How old were you when you wrote your first story?
Other than some creative writing as a child, I didn’t sit down to write seriously until about five years ago.
I think I needed a trigger, and it came in the form of a beautiful old house. But it was more than a house; the magnificent old building riveted and mesmerised me and in the following weeks I was drawn back to the site, over and over. The mansion was fronted by a brightly painted door, a glossy façade, and I imagined what the door might mask and what it could have concealed over the last 150 years: nasty, shameful secrets, possibly a poor family’s misfortune and tragedy, rotten crimes and heaven knows what other unholy messes … and a story began to form.
Funnily enough, when first I started, I had no idea what I was doing. In fact, I was so embarrassed that I started the project in secret, waiting until the house was empty and I was sure to be completely alone.
What genre was that?
Being a great lover of psychological thrillers and suspense, it wasn’t going to go any other way!
Do you think that or do you have another series in mind? Where would it be located?
My books are set in Sydney and always built around a central theme: an iconic old house or building in need of restoration. THE RED DOOR is the story of a woman who purchases and restores a beautiful old mansion ‘Rosalind’, but soon begins to believe that one of her tenants is watching her; a reclusive man who happens to share his name with two teenage sisters, victims of a sinister and brutal murder.
As the tale unfolds, you’ll find paintings and drawings I’ve created to illustrate exactly how our main protagonist appears in my mind, to show what the chair in Beadles’ shop window looks like or the iconic Balmain Garage, before developers tore it down.
The second book, again based on an historic building, is in editing stage and I’m preparing the illustrations now, hopefully to be released later this year. And yes, there will be a third.
Do you enjoy any sport? Crafts? Other?
My passion, and a significant part of my life, is art: by profession I am an artist and portrait painter, with a quirky penchant for painting vintage cars.
I don’t play sport but walk for miles every day, and it’s during my walks that my stories germinate.
Where do you write from? Place in your emotions?
My stories are drawn from life, from observation and from experience.
Visually: I love old architecture, and sometimes my heart profoundly aches at the sheer beauty of a building and I will stop and stare dumbly at the shimmering tarnished Gothic copper roof of a turret, the sun flashing off stained glass windows or the swirling ochres and russets of a Sydney sandstone wall. This is why my stories are always centred on a building.
Emotions: With every experience there is an emotion attached, whether it’s joy or excitement, nostalgia or yearning, anger or fear, and I try to tap into those emotions, using them to illustrate the story.
Observation: Having a portraitist’s eye helps, watching how people integrate with their environment and each other, the inter-personal dynamics, mannerisms, the tilt of a head, a finger rubbed nervously across a philtrum.
I believe everyone could sit down and spin a yarn based on their experiences, if they chose to.
Place in your house? From your organizations? if so what organizations:
I write in my studio, where I also paint and prepare the illustrations for the books. It’s a lovely room, south-facing with a big window and, although I live in inner city Sydney, it has a beautiful tree-filled vista. The walls are covered with paintings and sketches, an easel that holds a large board covered in post-it notes for storyline plotting, and a few vintage cars waiting to go to the next exhibition. Here’s a photo:
What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer?
As explained, I’m actually an artist and that’s what I’d do if I wasn’t writing. Also, I’ve always fancied the idea of being a landscape gardener!
How much support do you receive in relation to your writing and eventual publication? From where and whom?
Emotionally – my family are my greatest supporters and cheer squad (and my biggest critics!)
Financially – THE RED DOOR was self-published and self-funded.
If you could do only one form of writing, would you write stories or keep a blog? Why?
If I could only do one form of writing, I would probably keep writing my stories. Now that I’ve started, I’ve unleashed a monster and words are spilling out of me.
My blog is a very visual medium, keeping my followers up to date with new works as well as sneak peeks and excerpts from the next book. Many also follow me on Facebook or Instagram @rosafedele where I invite my readers/art lovers to come along on the journey, watch the images develop, laugh with me as I discard the rejects, and encourage feedback.
How did you find your niche?
I have always known that one day I would write and illustrate my own books, so I think my niche found me!
How much research do you do for your books?
Because my stories are based on actual historic houses in Sydney, much research is needed about the building, architectural drawings, style etc. I explore the process of building and renovation, interior design, fittings, fixtures and furnishings and draw on my own knowledge and tales from the art world. Also, as do many other mystery writers, I study crime, forensics and legal proceedings. I would hate for anyone to look at my Google search history – it would be quite horrific!
What surprised you most about the publishing process?
The amount of editing, re-writing, re-editing, proofreading, over and over, required to produce a high quality book; and
The exhausting amount of self-promotion required. The thing is, Australians are a humble and self-effacing lot; in our culture any tendency to “blow your own horn” is sneered at, almost considered abhorrent. It took a long time to overcome that.
What do you want your obituary to say? What do you want engraved on your headstone?
Probably something silly, like: “I told you I was sick.”
Freelance Writer and Educator
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