This month one of our top book club reads is The Little Boat on Trusting Lane by, Mel Hall.
Mel took some time out to chat with Beauty and Lace. Read on to learn more about her:
Tell us a little about yourself…
Hi, my name is Mel Hall. I’m a writer and musician based in Fremantle, Western Australia. I live in a cute studio flat in a garden, where I have a little ‘story corner’ with a rug, stacks of books and plenty of cushions. I like hanging out there, listening to music, or birds, and writing. When I’m not writing or trying to talk to animals, I work as a cook.
You were chosen for a mentorship with Four Centres Emerging Writing Program. Can you tell us a bit about that?
The Four Centres Emerging Writing Program gave me an amazing chance to learn all the ins and outs of being a writer. Before the program, I pretty much knew how to hang out on my own and write.
But through the program I learned about revisions and editing, pitching, writing synopses, public speaking, interviews, digital marketing…and heaps more. It was wonderful to meet writers and publishers and share our work.
Where did you get your inspiration for The Little Boat on Trusting Lane?
The Little Boat on Trusting Lane emerged from a big sparkling cauldron of ideas. I was wondering why we don’t hear the words ‘aliens and Jesus’ in the same sentence very often.
While experiencing terrible chronic pain, while working in a wholefoods store and seeking various forms of alternative treatments for my pain, while obsessing with pictures of houseboats, and enjoying inventing spiritual dating websites.
It started to occur to me that my life sounded a bit like a book and that maybe I should try to write one. I began writing for half an hour before work, and over a year filled a couple of journals. Eventually, it came together into a (big messy) manuscript.
Who is your target audience?
Trying to become a better person has always been an awkward experience for me. Sometimes my life feels like Eleanor Oliphant stumbled off the page into Eat Pray Love. Anyone else who feels like their life is a bit of a mixture of these two books would hopefully find some sense of home in mine.
Generally, I think my book would appeal to people who like awkward social comedy, and are interested in a satirical look at wellness, healing and spirituality. I don’t like to be poking fun at people on wellness or healing journeys, but rather I want to try to understand why people might go on such a journey (as I have).
What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
If you want to be a writer, or an artist, or a musician, or a maker of anything, it is probably because you find joy or a special sense of purpose in words, art, music, or that thing. For someone trying to make a move from doing that in a private way, to selling their art, or pitching their stories, or playing gigs, I would say to always remember how and why you started.
There are plenty of difficulties, and different kinds of rejections when you put your art out there. It’s really important to come back to the reasons why you decided to make something in the first place, and to keep joy alive.
Who are your favourite authors?
I’m a bit old school; I love Virginia Woolf, madly! I also love Barbara Pym, who wrote British social comedy. My other favourites are actually T.V. comedy writers, Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Jamie Demetriou. I am a big fan of British comedy.
What are you currently reading?
I am reading Eye of a Rook by fellow Fremantle Press author Josephine Taylor. I love this book because it addresses chronic pain, and the way women can be viewed as hysterical when they describe real pain. It’s also very beautifully written.
What’s next for Mel Hall?
I am writing a second novel, which is a coming-of-age story about trying to escape your hometown. It may or may not draw from my experience of growing up in the Western Australian wheatbelt.
Where can our readers follow you?
The Little Boat on Trusting Lane is available in all good bookstores and online.
I am a mother of four beautiful children. I can’t leave a book unfinished which equals a lot of late nights! When I’m not reading you can find me in the garden, or helping out at Beauty and Lace.