8 September 2011

Getting to know you Thursdays with Dale Harcombe

Please welcome another Australian author to my blog. Today Dale Harcombe is visiting. I meet Dale online a few months ago after reading Streets on a Map. 



1. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I live on the beautiful south coast of NSW with my husband of over forty years.  We have an adult son and daughter both married to Christians. They are raising their own families and they are a real joy to us, as they are walking with God and teaching their children about Him.
We share our home with a ginger ball of fluff on paws who is convinced she is a human in fur rather than a dog. She is a good watch dog though.
For the past three years I have been writing for www.families.com for the Marriage and Christian blogs. 

2. When you were a child did you have a favourite book or books?
Favourite books were What Katy Did, and What Katy Did Next, and Little Women. I read all the follow on books, but Little Women was my favourite of them. Another was Heidi.  Black Beauty was another and the only horse story I ever remember reading. I also devoured all sorts of myths, Greeks, Roman and Norse and had a supply of Golden books. By the time I was 11 or 12 I was reading Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights which I loved then and still do. (Jenny here I loved Heidi and I read Little Women also)

3. Do you have a favourite genre to both read and write?
I love both fiction and poetry. My bookshelves mainly comprise of these types of books and some biography. If I read a biography it will be usually about either visual artists or craftspeople, (something I am completely incapable of doing which is probably why they fascinate me) or writers. I have a number of Madeleine L'Engle nonfiction books and Walking on Water is one of my favourites. Also a lot of Catherine Marshall books starting with A Man Called Peter and I have two of Peter Marshall’s books of sermons.
When it comes to my writing, starting with Chasing after the Wind, my first children’s book was published in 1997 by Scholastic. I have written seven children’s books and have written a couple for adults one of which, Streets on a Map was published in December last year. Whether writing for children or adults I like to write about relationships, between families, husbands and wives and friends. A lot of my poetry is either social comment or about places I have visited and people I have seen.

4. Did you have favourite authors growing up who have influenced you?
I read so many different kinds of books growing up that I wasn’t particularly influenced by any one author. From the time I was four and my mother taught me to read I was hardly ever without a book in my hands

5. When did you know you wanted to be an author?
I don’t know whether a person consciously makes that decision, so much as it chooses you. I always wrote as a child and used to send poems into the Sunday newspapers children’s pages and a number were published. One was read on TV as part of the Jason and the Argonauts Club which used to be on radio for many years. Sadly in a mad clean up when I was younger I threw out a lot of those early writings which I now wish I hadn’t.
Writing was ignored as I grew older and busy and not taken up again until many years later, when I was at home caring for my mother who was at the time dying of cancer. About that time it was more as an emotional release to what was happening and my feelings. Later I started to write articles and poems.

6. How did you go about becoming an author?
I read as much as I could and then went to a course that was run in conjunction with the 1979 Billy Graham Crusade about writing and then started to focus more on writing. After Mum died, I joined a Christian writers group that met in Sydney. Then I went to a short poetry course organised by Blacktown Council and run by poet Jennifer Maiden.  Later I went to a creative evening college course and at times used to take my young son with me if my husband was otherwise occupied. Our son did his share of writing in the class too. With feedback and encouragement I started submitting poems to many of Australia's literary magazines and newspapers as well as some competitions. A number of poems were published or won prizes.
Around that time I was also writing Sunday school lessons for CEP (Christian Education Publishers) and biblical puppet plays, which our puppet group performed at shopping centres, festivals and churches. That was a lot of fun.
Later, as a mature age off campus student aware of a lack of education, having left school young, I undertook a Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in Literacy studies and Australian studies. I enjoyed writing essays and reading some books I had never read. I was encouraged by feedback on many of the creative writing pieces I wrote for that course. A number of those have been refined and published. Research about the Great Depression piqued my interest and that showed up later in Chasing after the Wind, my first children’s novel. While we lived in Sydney, I joined the NSW Writers’ Centre and went to programs and workshops there. It was good to meet with other writers.
After we moved to a small rural village in the 1990s and I was not working outside the home, I started to write my children’s novel, Chasing after the Wind. The title comes from Ecclesiastes. It was plucked out of the slush pile and published by Scholastic in 1997.
From there I continued to write poetry and children’s stories. As  well as several other children's novels for the secular and educational market, I also wrote a series of bible studies complete with commentary and questions for discussion for an interdenominational bible study group I ran. This bible study program had a children’s component for pre-schooler as well that ran concurrently with the program for their mothers.
I had a book of poetry Kaleidoscope published in 2005 and wrote a radio play which was broadcast on community radio and picked up by a number of stations. I was also a voice in one of the radio plays written by someone else and that was a lot of fun.
But I still wanted to write a novel for adult readers - the type of book I like to read myself. Streets on a Map was the result and published by Ark House Press in December last year. It has very good reviews. As well as being here on Jenny’s blog, reviews for Streets on a Map can be found on Aussie Reviews, Amazon and Book Depository as well as Koorong. A couple of other novels and a devotional book are in the pipeline and I am considering a sequel to Streets on a Map, after numerous people have said they want to know what happens to the people in Astley next.

7. If you were not a writer what would you like to be?                    
I can’t think of anything else I’d rather do. I’m sure my husband and family will tell you I am happier and easier to live with when writing. I do like to teach creative writing courses though. It’s always good to be able to help others by sharing what I have learned over the writing journey.


8. Outside reading and writing what do you like to do?
When I am not reading and writing I love being with family and friends, live theatre, watching AFL, (Aussie footy- the Sydney Swans is my team) singing (which has been one of my ministry jobs at church until the last few months when a back problem has kept me away from church all together and from doing a lot of things I love) and tennis. It is doubtful I will ever play tennis again now though. Guess I’ll have to be content with walking around the beautiful beach and lake areas close to our home and getting in the water when it warms up. I won’t say swimming because no-one could call what I do actually swimming. I love that we share our space here with kangaroos, who often feed on our front lawn, coloured parrots and various other forms of wildlife.
(Jenny Here I watch the AFL at times but mainly only Richmond. seeing the wildlife would be cool)

9. Do you have a place you love to visit or would love to visit?

I love to visit Huskisson beach, which is part of the beautiful Jervis Bay. Having lived in Western Sydney and then inland rural NSW, I never dreamed I would ever live near the water. We moved here when my husband retired four years ago last week and just love it.
Of course the trip to Huskisson is never complete without a visit to my favourite coffee shop. We have a number of them in the shopping centre but I only ever frequent one, because they make the best coffee. Since I only drink one or two coffees a week it needs to be really good.
I would like to see Tasmania and New Zealand as they’re close. Sometimes I think i’d like to visit Greece and Turkey and Spain and other places in Europe, but it’s not likely to happen. They are so far away and the thought of the long plane trip puts me off that idea. Because it is so beautiful here, sometimes it hardly seems necessary to want to visit anywhere else, except Sydney for family, friends and footy matches.


10. Finally can you tell us about your current books and/or any that will be coming out soon? Also where we can find you on the web
My latest novel was Streets on a Map published by Ark House Press in December 2010. It is available from me or from Amazon and book depository, Koorong bookshops and other selceted bookshops or direct from Ark House Press. There are a couple of other novels and a devotional book in the pipeline but I never talk about works in progress as it destroys the impetus to write them.











The other book I am especially proud of is Kaleidoscope my collection of poetry published by Ginninderra Press. Many of my poems have appeared in literary magazines and newspapers in Australia and overseas. Both books as well as some of my children’s books are available from my website www.daleharcombe.com
I also maintain a blog called Write and Read with Dale http://www.livejournal.com/users/orangedale/


On this blog I review books for children and adults, talk about writing matters and interesting happenings, or just what I have been reading.

9 comments:

Dale Harcombe said...

Thanks Jenny for interviewing me on your blog. It was fun answering your questions. I hope it causes lots of other people to read Streets on a Map.
All the best to you with your ventures.

Penny Zeller said...

Hi Dale~ I just wanted to let you know I enjoyed reading your interview. Streets on a Map sounds like an awesome book! May the Lord bless you richly in your writing.

Dale Harcombe said...

Thanks Penny. I hope you read it and find out about Abby and Laila and the other chrcters of Astley.

Trish Perry said...

Interesting interview, Jenny and Dale! I identified with a number of the steps in your journey to publication, Dale. All the best on your writing efforts!

Pamela J said...

Hi Dale, I'm always interested in hearing about an author who is new to me. So glad to know about your books and am looking for a chance to get to read them.

Teena said...

Dale, it was interesting to learn more about your journey as a writer and I will definitely be reading Streets on a Map and chasing After the Wind. You also sparked a few memories...as children we read the same books and I also had one of my early poems read out on the Argonauts show.

Dale Harcombe said...

Thanks Trish, Pamela and Teena for your comments. I love discovering new authors to read too and interesting to see the connections and similar experiences some of us writers have.

Peter Taylor said...

Many thanks for the interview. I love hearing about writers' pathways to success and how we all differ in our approaches. If I didn't talk about my work in progress, it would never progress ...not that it's gained many words lately.

All best wishes and I'm pleased to know your back is healing and feeling more comfortable, Dale.

Peter

Ausjenny said...

Thanks to all who have dropped by I am sure it encourages both Dale and myself

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