I’m very excited for this week’s guest author – Kylie Ladd! As you may know, Kylie is one of my favourite authors, and her latest book The Way Back, is hot of the press and doing fabulous things already. (As I knew it would!).
Kylie is a novelist, psychologist and freelance writer. Kylie’s novels have been published in Australia, New Zealand, the US, the UK and Europe. Her second novel, Last Summer, was highly commended in the 2011 Federation of Australian Writers Christina Stead Award for fiction, while her third, Into My Arms, was selected as one of Get Reading’s ‘Fifty Books You Can’t Put Down’ for 2013. She has also co-edited and co-authored two non-fiction books, Naked: Confessions of Adultery and Infidelity and Living with Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias.
Kylie’s essays and articles have appeared in The Age and Sydney Morning Herald, Griffith Review, O Magazine, Good Medicine, Kill Your Darlings, Reader’s Digest and Wellbeing, amongst others. She holds a PhD in neuropsychology and lives in Melbourne, Australia, with her husband and two children.
So let’s hear about what Kylie gets up to during the day.
A Day in the Life of Kylie Ladd
7.00am Alarm and up… until recently, my daughter was a competitive swimmer and we’d often be out the door before sunrise for training, so 7am still feels like a sleep-in to me. Long may that last.
7.00am – 8.30am Make lunches, unpack dishwasher, put on washing, yell at kids to get up, yell louder, etc. This part of the day is pretty much just plain drudgery, particularly as neither of my kids are sparkling conversationalists at that hour. (They’re teenagers. 7am is an insult to their delicate sensibilities.) Thank goodness for podcasts, which I first started using to take the tedium out of running about a decade ago, and now use to get me through pretty much most domestic activities. My favourites are anything book related (I particularly love the BBC’s A Good Read and Writers’ Victoria The Garrett), psychology-related (Radio National’s All in the Mind) or any type of long-form storytelling or journalism, such as Gimlet Media’s Homecoming last year. I’m also partial to a bit of true crime… makes me forget that I’m unpacking the dishwasher for the eleven millionth morning in a row.
8.30am – 11am Ah, 8.30, how I love thee. My progeny have mumbled their way out the door for the day, my husband is still in bed, the house is quiet and the day is mine. Quiet that is, until our four chickens (Mango, Chilli, Honey and Pepper) start squawking to be let out of their coop- actually, they squawk from about 6.30 but it’s too damn cold to face them at that hour. Sorry neighbours. As soon as I let the chickens out the free-range guinea pigs, Aura and Skittles, appear and all six animals follow me back to the house and hang around my feet until I feed them. Their devotion is touching, if over as soon as their bellies are full.
The next couple of hours are just for me… a lot of writers recommend getting to work the moment you can, and I agree with them wholeheartedly. In theory. In practice, I am an uber-procrastinator- I could procrastinate for Australia- so I use the time to 11am to get through all the things I need or want to do so I can’t use them as an excuse to take a break from writing later. This includes having breakfast, reading the paper, going for a run (more podcasts) or a swim (why aren’t iPods waterproof yet?), answering emails, checking social media, hanging out the washing, texting my bestie Kerri (another writer) and generally filling the time any way I can rather than ever start writing early. I’ll even weed if I must.
How amazing is Kylie’s study?
11am – 4pm This is my writing time on the days I’m at home- I work as a neuropsychologist two or three days a week, and on those I’m out of the house with the kids by 8.30. On my writing days I aim for 1000 words… I’m a bit of a control freak, so if I don’t make my target by four I’ll make myself go back to my desk (pictured) after dinner and finish them then. I am an incredibly slow, plodding writer, best represented by my Twitter avatar of a turtle on a keyboard. Writing doesn’t come easily to me. Ideas don’t come easily to me. Punctuation is about the only thing that does come easily to me- I have a deep and abiding love of the semi colon, but sadly you can’t make a whole novel out of those. Some days I have no idea why I’m even a writer at all, I find the whole process so difficult… except somehow I’ve published seven books now and get twitchy every time I stop. It’s a compulsion. I can’t explain it. Ask a psychologist. Oh.
At the moment though I have a new novel just out- The Way Back– so I’m using my writing time for publicity-type purposes rather than actual writing. The publicity aspect of publishing is way more time consuming than I expected when I began doing this years and years ago, and while some writers can keep multiple books in their head at once (see Natasha Lester’s post in this series for an excellent example… I’d hate her if she wasn’t so utterly lovely) I just can’t. If I’m writing a book I don’t want to be thinking about promoting a different book; if I’m in the PR cycle no new books ever come into my mind (God, I make all this sound hard, don’t I? Sorry. Really, go read Natasha’s post. She’s far less tortured.) In the past week, I’ve used this time in a variety of ways related to the release of The Way Back: organising print and radio interviews in conjunction with my publicist at Allen and Unwin, doing some of these, refreshing Goodreads while holding my breath waiting to see if there are any new reviews, organising my launch, writing the talks I’ll be giving at various libraries and bookstores over the next month or two, answering emails and tweets from readers, checking Goodreads again, making sure all my event details are kept up to date on my website and social media, writing blog posts like this for the sites kind enough to request one, checking Goodreads again, texting Kerri to ask her why she thinks no-one has reviewed my book in the past half an hour…
4pm – 8pm The kids are home from school by four, which is an excellent excuse to pretend they are distracting me and leap up with relief from my laptop. A few nights a week my daughter needs to be taken to training (swimming may be over, but water polo, soccer and horse-riding go on), and between drop-offs and pick-ups my son in Year 12 needs to be restrained and interrogated until he breaks down and confesses that yes, he does have homework and he’s going to start it annnnnny minute now. Most nights my husband cooks dinner (hey, that’s the deal if you get to still be in bed at 8.30 every morning) while I either go back and do a quick edit of the words I’ve managed to slap together that day, nag my son about homework or just give up and go and drink wine and chat with my husband in the kitchen. The last one wins quite a lot.
8pm – 11pm Once dinner is over and cleaned up (more podcasts) it’s a toss-up between social media, answering emails, texting Kerri, TV or reading. I watch very little actual TV, but every so often my husband gets me hooked on a series that we’ll binge watch together over a couple of weeks. Currently it’s Taboo, a satisfyingly creepy BBC production set during the war of 1812 (I have a bit of a thing for the BBC- we lived in Scotland for 3 years, where our son was born, and the BBC gets in your blood like malaria), though I’ve made him promise that next it’s The Handmaid’s Tale. Most nights, though, I end up reading. At the end of the day (literally and figuratively) reading is my first love. Reading is what seduced me into being a writer; reading is (nearly always) the greatest and most reliable pleasure in my life. I’m never without a book on the go and at least five on the to-be-read pile, though this year I decided I was also going to go back to some of my all-time favourites, to see if they still stood up ten, twenty or thirty years down the track. I’m gratified to report that the four I’ve read so far this year have, and in spades: Possession, The Poisonwood Bible, Breath and Beloved. Re-reading those books has been like rekindling a past love affair, reuniting with a dear friend… reading is the perfect way to end my day. I nearly always fall asleep with the book still in my hand.
Kylie’s Favourite Thing About Being a Writer
The feedback. When someone I don’t know chooses to read my book, and then write a review on their blog or on Goodreads or to send me a tweet or an email… it’s magic. I’ve had five novels published now and that thrill still hasn’t worn off. That, and also being able to stay in my PJs all day. Personal grooming is overrated
You can check out all of Kylie’s books on her website at www.kylieladd.com.au And you will also find her on social media: