Author Interview: Lisa Ellery

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Next month one of our top book club reads is Private Prosection by Lisa Ellery.

To celebrate the launch of her book, Lisa took some time out to chat with Beauty and Lace. Read on to learn more about her:

When did you know you wanted to become an author?

I’m not sure I wanted to “become an author”. I do know I’ve always wanted to write. I started writing stories in childhood. I continued to write while studying and then working as a lawyer. I gained a lot of satisfaction from writing something that I knew was good and though I didn’t have much available time, I was committed to honing my skills and improving.

Having someone (other than myself) love what I’d written seemed like the ultimate thrill but that doesn’t happen often when you’re not actually published. Submitting my work to a publisher was a logical thing to do.

Now I am “an author”. I’ll get back to you on whether it’s what I want! I only know that I want to be the best that I can be.

What does being an author mean to you?

I strive for excellence in everything I do. I’ve worked as a lawyer for 20 years, and for the past 13 of those I’ve operated my own law firm in Kalgoorlie-Boulder, where I now employ a dozen staff including five other lawyers. Starting and growing that business was a huge challenge and I’m very proud of it and of the reputation, we have for quality.

So now it turns out the legal career I’ve prioritised all my life is not all I have to offer. My first attempt at a crime novel has seen my passions collide. I know that Fremantle Press doesn’t publish anything sub-standard and they have enthusiastically embraced my novel.

I am a lawyer, and also an author. It feels like a lot, and my friends sort of think I might be having a lend of them about being an actual author. I am immensely proud of my achievements in both facets of my life.

Who is your Australian favourite author?

I love Dave Warner. His novel “Before It Breaks” was a huge inspiration to me in starting to write crime. If you google him his Wikipedia page shows up as “Dave Warner: Australian musician”.

He bangs on about his punk rock band for ages before finally mentioning his award-winning novels. His website is in a similar vein. He seems to have led a very full life and I identify with the duality of purpose.

And what are you reading right now?

Dave Warner’s “Over My Dead Body”.

Where do you get your inspiration?

Everywhere! Everything I write about comes from somewhere. I have discovered there’s nothing worse than a joke you’ve made up. Yet the funniest things happen of their own accord every single day. I use them, or bits of them, or the idea of them. So much that’s funny in Private Prosecution has actually happened in one form or another.

A lot of the stories about criminal activity are from my time working in criminal law (nothing confidential is revealed), or from stories that were in the news, which are often bleakly hilarious. And characters of course are drawn from people and things I know. Andrew comes from where I come from, and his mum and dad have a lot in common with me. The character of Russ is very heavily drawn from a good friend of mine.

I am a runner, and a water-skier. Of course, Andrew is way better than me at both these things. After all, I’m the one telling the story.

What comes first, the plot or the characters?

The good thing about writing crime is that the plot is the biggest part, and it is also the easy part. For me the plot comes first and once I start writing that, characters start to grow and develop around it.

What was it like growing up on a farm?

I grew up on a sheep, cattle and barley farm at Gibson, near Esperance on the south coast of WA. My parents were farmers. My dad cleared new land there in the early 1960s. He was a pioneer, and a really hard worker. I loved growing up on a farm.

We could hike for miles and still be on our place. We explored, got lost, swam in lakes, camped, rode horses and motorbikes, brought up poddy lambs and calves, all on our place.

Tell us about life in Kalgoorlie-Boulder.

For the past two decades I’ve lived in the gold-mining city of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, where I run my law practice. I love my life here. I am part of a vibrant community of people who wouldn’t have come here in the first place if they didn’t have a sense of adventure. I am part of the business community, where we “buy loKal” by supporting each other for the work we need done. I am also part of the sporting community, and the service community as a friend of Rotary.

Everyone here falls within many categories of business and community groups depending on their vocations and passions, like a huge overlapping Venn diagram. I love that whatever I need, I know who to ask. There is never more than two degrees of separation between your problem and the person who can solve it for you.

I also love that I don’t know a single person who doesn’t contribute to our community, on a voluntary basis, in some way. It’s a city but it feels like a small town. Everyone looks out for one another.

Where do you find the time to write while running marathons and a law firm?

Well, I am pretty pushed for time. All my running I do in the mornings, which is one of the great things about where I live. The sun comes up more than twenty minutes earlier in Kalgoorlie-Boulder than it does in Perth, and we can be running in the bush within five minutes of leaving the house, so I can be at my desk before 8.30 am even in the middle of winter. I lawyer all day and then generally go to the gym after work.

On the weekends I run or walk both mornings, catch up with friends and then maybe do a bit of writing on Saturday and Sunday afternoon. If I want to get a serious amount of writing done, I take a day or a week off work and knuckle down.

Where can our readers follow you?

I have a Facebook page called Lisaellerywrites. I have to admit I’m not the greatest at keeping it up to date. This is not an area in which I excel. I’m working on trying to do better there.

But it would be lovely to have more followers: https://www.facebook.com/Lisaellerywrites/

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