PERTH author Liz Byrski was a popular choice for the opening event of the Mandurah Readers and Writers Festival at Mandurah Performing Arts Centre on Wednesday.
The former journalist and ABC broadcaster has written 10 best-selling novels and a dozen or so non-fictions.
But writing does not come easy, she told Coodanup College English department’s Cathy Hey.
Asked which came first – place, character, incident or event – Byrski said a character would be floating in her head.
“I live with my main character for a month or two and then work out the people around her,’’ she said.
“Then I come up with another character.”
Byrski’s books involve women who are aging creatively and the character of Ros in her latest book A Month of Sundays is most like her, she says.
“She’s grumpy and likes spending time on her own.”
A Month of Sundays looks at four women who are members of an online book club but who have never met until they arrive in the Blue Mountains together to house sit.
A second character in the group Judy hails from Mandurah where she owns a knitting shop.
Byrski, who arrived in Australia in the early 80s, said she had always loved Mandurah.
“I didn’t want my character to live in a capital city so I brought her to Mandurah,’’ she said.
How does she put a story together?
Byrski said she had no idea what would happen to her characters until she reached the end of a story.
“I was advised years ago not to force my characters so I listen to them, let them move along and trust in the process,’’ she said.
“I sit down each morning and wonder what is going to happen next.”
She puts a limit on the hours a day she works but never on the number of words she writes.
And she never shows her manuscript to anyone until it is finished.