Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Rosanne Dingli
 Rosanne Dingli is an award-winning Western Australian novelist, author of DEATH IN MALTA, ACCORDING TO LUKE, six collections of short stories and a book of collected poems. She has had numerous articles, stories, reviews, columns and poems published Australia-wide and on the internet since 1986. She has worked as teacher, lecturer, workshop coordinator, magazine and corporate editor, travel consultant, cook, manuscript assessor, heraldic artist and business partner. She has travelled widely in Italy, the UK, Turkey, Greece, South East Asia, Holland, and Belgium, as well as most Australian states.

Rosanne was born in Malta, where she received her education and her most significant youthful experiences. When Malta became independent from Britain in 1964, and Rosanne witnessed the country's introduction to republic status in 1971. Speaking three languages fluently from childhood, the cocktail of cultures of her early life became inseparable from how she understood the world.

Emigrating to Australia in 1982 confounded a number of long-held presumptions about culture, freedom, what it means to be a woman, and the whole business of becoming an author. Her first published piece, in 1985, when she was living in Narrandera, NSW, set her on a one-way journey towards life as a writer, which she has tried several times to give up, without success. It led her at different times to jobs that consistently confirmed the publishing industry endures swift and sudden changes, and is as full as other things in life of rogues, angels and every other kind of creature in between. She has met the full gamut, from sour scoundrels to sweet spirits.

First Novel

Her first novel, DEATH IN MALTA, was
written quickly, but took years to edit to its present form. ACCORDING TO LUKE was a labour of intensity, love and discovery. She still cannot get over what hard work writing a novel is, compared to anything else, except perhaps running a family, which is just as incomprehensible and liable to change as the publishing industry.

Caroline: Thank you for stopping by to share with us today. Who are your favorite authors and favorite genres?

Rosanne: I like reading within my own genres. I write romantic thrillers with art, music and literature references – so Elizabeth Kostova (THE SWAN THIEVES) and AS Byatt (POSSESSION) are my favourites. They write in the tradition of John Fowles (THE FRENCH LIEUTENANT’S WOMAN) in a way – the kind of books that take in and examine a historical period, and include the significance of the science and philosophies of the time. Fascinating.

Short story collection
I also write literary short fiction, sometimes with a historical twist, or perhaps a practical twist about love or money that is applicable to the way we think today. I like the short stories of Andre Dubus and Raymond Carver.

Caroline: That’s a very impressive list. How many books do you read a month? What are you reading now?

Rosanne: I am a very slow reader, and have very little time to devote to reading from choice, because I am so busy. Thank goodness for the Kindle – it means you can take dozens of books around with you … everywhere. Right now, I am reading some fabulous narrative non-fiction by Ian Mathie, who writes about his work experiences in Africa. His second volume is called MAN IN A MUD HUT – perceptive and edifying.

Caroline: When you’re not writing, what’s your favorite way to relax and recharge? Hobbies?

Rosanne: I am stuck to my computer – I relax by doing Sudoku puzzles, online and in small spiral-bound puzzle books I buy. I have one of those things everywhere: my bedside, the car, my handbag. I love puzzles that absorb you and cancel everything else. Sudoku does that for me.

Caroline: You have my admiration--those Sudoku puzzles make my head hurt, so I stick with crossword puzzles. Describe yourself in three or four words.

Rosanne: Vague, intense and peculiar.

Caroline: LOL Don't you think that describes most writers?  Would you like to share any guilty pleasures that feed your muse?

Rosanne: I enjoy many pleasures but none that I feel guilty about – a Mediterranean childhood and emigration to Australia taught me how to erase and discard guilt. Life’s too short for feelings like that.

My muse is fed by words: it’s words that give me those writing prompts … but not always when I need them. Locations too fuel me with material to write. There’s nothing like visiting somewhere that’s full of history or just a great other-worldly feeling. I’m not a great traveller – I always emphasize how I’d rather stay home… but when I do venture abroad, I get such enormous quantities of sensual, visual and olfactory prompts. What it really is, of course, is culture. I just love Europe and its culture. It’s where I’m from, after all.

Caroline: My feelings exactly. How long have you been writing?

Rosanne: Since 1985. I used to type letters to my mother on those blue aerogrammes that folded to letter-shape in a special way – space is limited on those things, so you must be concise and precise. It taught me quite a lot about using the right words for specific feelings. I then broke into short fiction and poetry, read things that taught me how to devise a writer’s life, and off I went. My first published piece came about five months after I started sending things off on real paper, in real envelopes, with an SASE inside … that’s how long ago it was.

Caroline: I remember those tissue-thin aerogrammes. I suppose they’re still in use. Where do you prefer to write? Do you need quiet, music, solitude? PC or laptop?

Rosanne: I sit in my home office at my computer and manage the world from there. I like lots of tea, stuff to nibble and as many distractions and interruptions as can be managed, please.

Caroline: Are you a plotter or a panzer?

Rosanne: Both – I do most of my writing in my head while procrastinating – and no matter how I try, organization just makes me write less, not more. I need mess, confusion, the beckoning of a million neglected tasks, errands, jobs and duties, and the ideas and words just flood in.

I plan scenes around the words of the first sentence. Then I know I can just hold my hands over the keyboard and they come again. I plan the characters and looks of my protagonists. I plan the salient twists in my plots and the references (couldn’t panz those) and then I let it cook in my head. I find writing devilishly difficult. I hate setting down that first draft, and put if off for as long as I can without going completely round the bend with too much kept in my head.

Caroline: I call that a plotzer. Do you use real events or persons in your stories or as an inspiration for stories?

Rosanne: Always. Most of my fiction is built on top of real events. According to Luke is researched rather tightly – everything in it can be looked up and verified. I enjoy making novels that are composed of as much truth as I can muster. My next novel, CAMERA OBSCURA, is constructed around real places, real artifacts, real events one can look up on online newspapers. I find this aspect vital, because it makes everything else seem credible. If you read a book and look up something, which is verified, you tend to feel the whole story built around that prop is also true. It has a magical aspect to it.

Caroline: Tell us about your writing schedule. Do you set goals? Do you write daily?

Rosanne: Ha ha – no. I abandoned schedules when I stopped teaching. Now, the only timetables I have to remember are the ones my family needs to observe. And I am a sporadic writer who always does it at totally the wrong time. Tax time, the kids’ exam times, my husband’s critical business times… what do you know? I get itchy and need to write.

The rest of the time, I confine myself to writing blogs and editing the manuscripts of other writers – it’s what I do for real money. I do not set goals. Loosely, I kind of think it would be nice to get “that done by then”, but then I laugh at myself for even trying.

Caroline: Life does tend to interfere with the best laid plans, doesn’t it? What do you hope your writing brings to readers?

Rosanne: Entertainment that is thought-provoking, that sends them to look stuff up. Mental gymnastics. I like to present a premise that is challenging, and prop it up with stuff that is so real, the reader tends not to doubt my fabrications.

Caroline: Well said. What long-term plans do you have for your career?

Rosanne: I’m sitting inside my long-term right now. I hope to be doing exactly this for some time into the future. Writing when I want to, not writing when I don’t want to. No pressure, no constraints.

Caroline: Would you like to tell us what you’re working on now?

Rosanne: It’s another novel along the shape and form of ACCORDING TO LUKE and CAMERA OBSCURA. Romantic, thrilling, built around a number of real things, such as news events, art, music and literature. My plots are devious, my stories easy to follow. Even if you do not get the literary references, you will dig the story. I always have a car chase or two, a romantic interest, some nice artifacts, and a bit of a puzzle.

Caroline: What advice would you give to unpublished authors?

Rosanne: If you have completed stuff, get it edited professionally, get some nice covers done up, and get published – do they need to be told? It’s very easy to publish your own work – many, many writers are doing it and doing it very well. When my collections of stories went out of print and the rights reverted to me, I published them all myself, in smaller bundles. They sell quite as nicely as the novels my publishers carry.

Caroline: Yes, I’ve done the same at Amazon Kindle with my backlist, and even with a couple of new titles. Tell us about your latest release.

Rosanne: ACCORDING TO LUKE was released by BeWrite Books in March 2011. It is a romantic thriller with a biblical challenge.

Here’s the blurb:

Shattered by the breakdown of yet another romance, Jana Hayes becomes a recluse in her tiny Venice apartment and buries herself in her work as an expert art conservator … until an ancient religious icon brings Roman Catholic priest Rob Anderson into her life.

The secret they discover hidden in the mysterious artifact turns out to be not only devastating, but deadly. And it has the star-crossed couple running for their lives across Europe and the Middle East, pursued by three ruthless opposing factions, each for its own reason determined to torture and kill to lay hands on the world-shaking evidence uncovered.

While Rob struggles with his priestly vows and Jana with an overbearing billionaire mother who holds the purse strings to an outrageous ransom demand, they discover, with the help of an aging genius symbologist, more and more damning revelations about one of the New Testament’s most sacred gospel writers – and as the evidence mounts, the stakes rise and the blood flows.

Caroline: You definitely captured my interest! Where can readers find your books?

Rosanne: Everywhere good books are sold online: iTunes, Sony Bookstore, Nook, The Book Depository – you name it. My books are all available as ebooks in all formats, and paperbacks.

People tend to go to first, so here is my author’s page at Amazon:

Caroline: How can readers learn more about you?

Rosanne: Googling my name will give readers thousands of choices for where to read about me. I have been interviewed by about a dozen online bloggers, and I have written many guest blog posts. I also have my own website, which carries information on all my titles, with sample chapters and links to sites I like. Then there’s my blog, which is very frequently updated – it’s all about books, writers, writing, reading and the writing life.

Rosanne: Thank you for having me here, Caroline – there’s nothing I like more than answering questions about my writing life.

Caroline: Thanks for sharing with us today, Rosanne. I wish you continued success in your career.

Readers, please return on Friday-Sunday for my review of a funny new mystery by Ann Charles, DANCE OF THE WINNEBAGOS.

Thanks for stopping by!


Caroline Clemmons said...

Rosanne, thanks for stopping by to share with readers today.

Dale said...

Another good interview here with Rosanne.Always interesting to hear how another writer works.

Teena said...

Rosanne, an interesting interview that offers a real insight into your writing life.

Anna Jacobs said...

Another interesting interview, Rosanne. I enjoy reading your blogs - which is annoying, as I have books of my own to write!

Magdalena Ball said...

Interesting interview Rosanne. I particularly like the way you describe yourself - vague, intense and peculiar. I would use similar words and they don't often come together in one person! Appreciate the look into your plotting (plotzing! that's me too - in the yiddish sense) style.