Therese Creed grew up in Sydney, one of nine children. From an early age she loved horses and a dream of one day living in the bush. After leaving school she became a primary school teacher for four years before deciding to take a break and spend some time riding a trail from Victoria to Queensland. During a 5-month pit-stop she met a local farmer, Cedric Creed, who joined her riding further north to Cooktown. After marrying Cedric, Therese became involved in the running of the family cattle station. She now knows a fair bit about fighting fires, pulling windmills, driving trucks and tractors, shoeing horses and fencing. She now divides her time between helping out on the station and bringing up her four young children. Her first novel, Redstone Station, was a bestseller. Her latest release is CHARLOTTE’S CREEK.
Thanks to Therese’s fabulous publishers, Allen and Unwin, I was offered the chance to ask Therese a few questions to get to know her better, which I accepted and presented to her, and she has now graciously answered despite the fact she is tremendously busy after the recent birth of her fifth child.
Therese Creed Q&A
1. Tell me a little about yourself – where were you born, where do you live now, and what do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I was born in Sydney, fortunate enough to be the fifth child in a huge loving family of nine children. I had a wonderful childhood, my mother loved good literature and exposed up to a whole range of classics from over the centuries. I worked as a primary school teacher for four years, then in 2003/2004, realised my long held dream when I bought two horses and embarked on the Bicentennial National Trail which follows stock routes up the entire east coast of Australia. On the way, I met the man who is now my beloved husband. We live on a cattle property an hour from Rockhampton, Queensland. When I’m not writing, I am usually teaching my two older children distance Ed, caring for the three younger ones, feeding animals, assisting at the yards with cattle work or attempting to tidy the house and cook. My special time is working our latest mob of weaner cattle in the afternoons for a short time, while my husband minds the kids. This gives me some time on my horses and with my dogs.
2. Speaking of writing – share a little about your writing routine: do you have one? Is there a certain place you like to write and do you write to a schedule or just when the mood hits you?
Routines don’t work with small children and animals! I grab any free moment I can get, usually after everyone is in bed. I also have scraps of paper all over the house, schoolroom and car with jotted ideas that come suddenly upon me. I collect these from time to time and type them up when I get the chance. The stories run continuously in my head, so that when I get to the computer, there is a lot of material ready to flood out.
3. Are you the sort of writer that plots out everything meticulously before you start or do you sit and let the words flow and see where the characters takes you?
I plot nothing, write bits and pieces of many chapters simultaneously, and usually end up allowing the characters to possess me and dictate the storyline. They have very loud voices, and we have lots of disagreements when they take the story in a direction that I wasn’t prepared for.
4. What do you like to read when you are not writing, assisting with the farm chores and being mum? Care to share some of your favourite authors?
I never read anymore, all my spare moments are devoted to writing. When I did read a lot, it was a strange combination of timeless classics and fantasy. My favourite authors include, Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Roald Dahl, Paul Gallico, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Lucy. M. Boston, L.M.Montgomery, Robin Hobb, J.K Rowling, Elizabeth Gouge.
5. Describe CHARLOTTE’S CREEK in three words
Colourful, emotional, warm.
6. If you were a super hero, what would your super power be? And what costume would you wear?
I would be a ‘Mirth Mother’, with the power to make people laugh and forget their worries and insecurities. I would look similar to a jolly, non-threatening fairy godmother.
7. What led to you choosing a governess as the main character? Or did she choose you? How did you pick the name Lucy? How much of you is in Lucy?
I worked for a while with Frontier Services, relieving mothers on remote stations of doing Distance Ed for three weeks at a time. This gave them a short respite, and a chance to catch up on the myriad of other duties, and gave me a unique insight into the role of governess, and the lives of so many station families. Lucy is quite a lot like me, as I too found my niche once leaving Sydney, and felt more at home with bush people than I had ever felt with Sydney siders, (excepting my own family.)
8. Was there any scene in the story you particularly struggled with that you can share without giving too much away? How did you move past it?
I always struggle with the romantic bits, to make them sound natural and not too old fashioned. One scene in Charlotte’s Creek was very similar to an incident that occurred between myself and my husband (before we admitted to liking each other) and had some painful memories associated with it!
9. Now CHARLOTTE’S CREEK is released – what’s next for you? Are you working on anything in particular?
My next book is again set in cattle country, but my leading lady is not a ‘good’ as Lucy or Alice. She has been damaged by an unhappy childhood and her life takes on new meaning when she finds herself on a large remote property with a gruff old man and a young recluse, who is even more of a misfit than she is.
10. Last supper – if the world was ending tomorrow what would be your last meal on earth?
It would have to be pea and ham soup with a crusty bread roll. No other meal is quite so comforting!
CHARLOTTE’S CREEK is published by Allen and Unwin and is now available for sale; the recommended retail price is $29.99