Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Tuesday Spotlight-Paula Vince

Each Monday and Thursday, Christian Writers Downunder's faithful and talented blog team contribute blogposts to inspire and inform aspiring and established writers. In 2017 we will be adding Tuesday Spotlights - posts that spotlight both writers and organisations that contribute to the writing scene Downunder. 

The last two posts in 2017 has highlighted members of the CWD Administration team: Anusha Atukorala and Jeanette O’Hagan.

Today’s spotlight is on the third member of the team, Paula Vince.

Paula is a homeschooling Mum and one of our veteran authors. Her first book The Risky Way Home was published in 2000. Since then, Paula has written many books, including award winning Picking up the Pieces and Best Forgotten. Her books are mostly New Adult (aimed at 18-25 year olds) contemporary dramas set in South Australia. She has written a fantasy trilogy, a collaborative book, The Greenfield Legacy and contributed a non-fiction piece to Glimpses of Light anthology. Paula has a creative and intriguing book blog, The Vince Review, and is working on a non-fiction historical book, the story of her grandfather, The Amateur’s Son. She is an invaluable member of the CWD team and an inspiring example.

Jeanette: Paula, you’ve had published 9 novels over the last couple of decades, one collaboratively (The Greenfield Legacy). How did you get started as a writer and where do your ideas come from?

Paula: I've been writing all my life. There were a few manuscripts from my teenage days which thankfully never saw the light of day. Around 1999 to 2000, when I was working on The Risky Way Home and Picking up the Pieces, there weren't many Australian Christian fiction authors to be found. I introduced myself to Meredith Resce, who was later one of my co-authors of The Greenfield Legacy, hoping she'd offer me some advice on publishing Picking up the Pieces, and discovered she'd already read my earlier story, The Risky Way Home. That was quite surprising, since I'd only printed a very short run. She agreed to help me publish Picking up the Pieces under the banner of her already established Golden Grain Press. Those were exciting times, which feel a bit like pioneering days in my memory.

As for ideas, I find they come from many sources. It might be a dream, a news article, song lyrics, other people's books, or just random things I observe in nature.

Jeanette: You books often feature young people in their twenties facing challenging situations and you don’t shy away from controversial subjects such as date rape and divine healing. What is it that draws you writing about this age group and the issues you explore?

Paula: To be honest, I think I was initially drawn to this age group because I still considered myself part of it. In those days of writing Picking up the Pieces and The Risky Way Home, I was still in my twenties. All that angst that goes with choosing study courses, forming relationships, and considering vocation paths wasn't far behind me. And I often pondered even bigger issues in those days. Writing about people who are working through them seemed a good way of processing questions such as, 'Why would this happen?' and, 'What might be a suitable response?'

It's been interesting to watch my own kids grow up during the time I've been writing. It's still an age group I find fascinating, although I admit it would take a lot more research now, because I find the millenials harder to understand than my own Generation X. It might be more correct to say that I find it hard to understand all the stuff the millenials find so easy to understand. 

Jeanette: You’ve been writing and publishing longer than most of us. What changes have you seen in writing and publishing in Australasia over that time and what challenges do you see us facing in the near future?

Paula: Back in those days, we seemed very few. I met Meredith Resce and Mary Hawkins, and we three seemed like the sum total. No doubt all the good CWD members were each plugging away from their own homes, but connections had yet to be made. Since then, there's been a wonderful explosion of new faces on the Australian Christian writing scene, all offering valuable support to each other.

The digital age for books has snuck upon us and opened many new vistas too. In the nineties, when somebody said the name 'Amazon', the first thing that popped into my mind was a huge South American river. Back then, ebooks were something only a few brave, tech-savvy writers were experimenting with, and normal print runs had to be around 2000 to 3000 copies to make unit costs reasonable. I'm excited by how much more accessible the rest of the world seems to Aussie authors since the introduction of the kindle, and how much cheaper it can be to get our work out there. However, it's been a bit of a two-edged sword, since sales in hard copies have plummetted as book stores have felt the pinch.

The one thing that seems to remain constant is the challenge it is for Aussies to be competitive in the international market, and to prove that we have what it takes to provide great reads consistently.

Jeanette: They do sound like exciting times. I always enjoy your thoughtful reviews and particularly your overviews of literature (Like cats in literature, or stories that feature umbrellas) on the Vince Review. When did you develop a love for reading and what do you love about books. How essential do you think being a reader is for writers?

Paula: I could already read in my earliest memories. They include lying on my dad's chest while he read books with me, which was surely when I learned. There is so much I love about books. When it comes to non-fiction, we can take other people's ideas on board without the hard work of having to learn or think of them ourselves. When it comes to fiction, we have a chance to get out of own headspaces for a short breather and enter someone else's. In both cases, we can be armchair travellers in a world which becomes much smaller to us. I think being a reader is essential to being a writer. Not only does it broaden our knowledge base, but also sparks our imaginations, as we form inner pictures of the authors' words. 

Thanks for your warm words about my blog. I've got to say, I took up the challenge to write the sort of blog I like to keep visiting myself, and looking out for stimulating ideas for it is one of my favourite pastimes. It's the sort of blog which aims to help people put up their feet, relax and read.

Jeanette: And I think you have achieved that. In your latest project, you’ve moved away from New Adult (18-25) fiction to a non-fiction historical book. What motivated you to start this project and how has it been different to write than your previous projects?

Paula: Wow, here goes. Some time ago, my dad was researching his family tree, and I was typing his notes out for him. He had so much fascinating information about his own father, Charlie 'Red' Mitchell, who was quite a celebrity of his time. Not only was he the welter weight and middle weight boxing champion of South Australia, but an ANZAC hero with a Military Medal to boot. I thought the colourful true tales about him were just crying out to be written in the form of a story many of us can enjoy. I wasn't sure I'd be the right person to do it, since I'd never written such a genre before, but then I thought, 'Well, who better than me, with blood ties to the hero.'

So I've finished draft one of Charlie's story. Instead of making it all up from my own head, I've stuck to Dad's parameters of truth, and simply tried to put people in the picture of Edwardian Adelaide, so to speak. Hopefully I've brought back to life a lovable young hero with big ambitions and bright red hair. My father, Bryon, was Charlie's only remaining child, and early in February, he passed away suddenly. Since it was just a few weeks ago, my family and I are still dealing with that fresh grief of missing him. It's easy to burst into tears at sudden moments, because Dad was one of my favourite people,  but I'm thankful he knew I working on this key story that helped form his own personal background.  

Jeanette:  We really appreciate you taking time to share with us when yours and your family's grief is still so raw. Praying that you are wrapped in God's comforting love.  

And having a sneak peak of The Amateur's Son - I think you have brought Charlie and his era to life. Lastly, but never least; how does your faith and your family impact on your writing?

Paula: I think faith and family undergird every word an author writes, regardless of the subject matter. I'm thankful to God, who I attribute with so many new ideas I've had over the years, and guidance in writing them down, and also to my husband Andrew, and children, Logan, Emma and Blake. They've been good kids, to allow me the time it took to write nine novels, since they've been homeschoolers, always around the place. When I first started plotting The Risky Way Home in 1997, I remember watching my older son trying to pull himself up on the briefcase I used to store the manuscript, as he learned to walk. Now he's twenty-two years old. I owe my dad for all the background material for my current project.  And of course I've been thinking more than ever of a long line of departed family members who haven't walked this earth for several years, but have influenced my stories and who I am nonetheless.

Jeanette: Love that Logan was pulling himself up on the briefcase with The Risky Way Home manuscript. Thank you Paula, for being on the CWD Admin team, for your encouragement and enthusiasm, and for taking time to talk to us. Wishing you all the best for your latest project and  in what God has for you, your family and your writing.

Paula Vince is a South Australian author of contemporary, inspirational fiction. She lives in the beautiful Adelaide Hills, with its four distinct seasons, and loves to use her environment as settings for her stories. Her novel, 'Picking up the Pieces' won the religious fiction section of the International Book Awards in 2011, and 'Best Forgotten' was winner of the CALEB prize the same year. She is also one of the four authors of 'The Greenfield Legacy', Australia's first and only collaborated Christian novel. Her most recent novel, 'Imogen's Chance' was published April 2014. For more of Paula's reflections, you may like to visit her book review blog, The Vince Review.


  1. Thanks for a great interview Paula. I love your books and am looking forward to see The Amateur's Son published.

    1. And thanks for the great interview to you too, Jenny. I enjoyed pondering those questions.

  2. Such a heartening interview to encourage those who follow in Paula's party. Thanks for the inspiration, and Jeanette for enabling it.

    1. Thanks Ruth, yes, it's interesting to suddenly consider writing in a new direction. I'm glad you were encouraged 😊

    2. Thanks Ruth. Paula's story is inspiring :)

  3. Sometimes I think the reason I persist in writing for young adults is that I still think I am one! It's easy to forget how fast time is flying.

  4. Thanks for that Paula. We're all so grateful for the pioneering work you, Meredith and Mary have done in Christian fiction here in Australia. How sad that your Dad passed away before he could see your non-fiction book published, but how wonderful that you'll have that legacy always. I'll be interested to read it. Take care xx

    1. Thanks Nola. That time has passed so fast. And I'd be interested to see what you think of it.

    2. I've had a sneak peak of The Amateur's Son - fantastic read :)

  5. Such a lovely interview! I'm looking forward to reading Charlie's story. What a wonderful legacy for your family. Thanks for sharing all this with us, Paula.

    1. Thanks Elaine,
      It's been a long process, including all the 'should I or shouldn't I?' questions.

  6. What a lovely interview Paula and Jenny. Wow - 9 books is an impressive number Paula with many more to come. What a long way the Aussie Christian writing scene has come since those early days when you printed your books. Looking forward to reading 'The Amateur's Son' - love the title! Very intriguing. Thank you for all you have done for us Christian writers Paula over the past several years. Every blessing on your writing journey.

    1. Hi Anusha,
      It really has been a long journey for all of us as a whole, since those very early days. It will be interesting to what the next several hold. I'm glad you like the title. My family and I brainstormed several, and it's the only one we remotely agreed on😊