Thursday, 5 April 2018

Member Interview – Ruth Bonetti

Each Thursday in 2018 we will be interviewing one of the members of Christian Writers Downunder – to find out a little bit more about them and their writing/editing goals.
Today we interview Ruth Bonetti

Question 1: 
Tell us three things about who you are and where you come from.

1. Growing up on sheep properties outside Hughenden in outback Queensland, I preferred books to horses and Mozart to Slim Dusty. Music became my passport to a wider world. First I endured the raw culture shock of a Brisbane education (Ironside State School, Somerville House high school and University of Queensland):

“    "Seated at my desk I read poetry and play characters with relish. But when I was given a lead part in the school play, I froze. Eagle eyes pierced me! I was relegated to the back of the Greek chorus. In later decades I evolved from that shy ‘bush’ child who hid in the toilet block rather than face fearsome peers. I became an adult who welcomes any platform to reach out with words and music."
(Excerpt from Midnight Sun to Southern Cross.) 

2. Since childhood visits to Byron Bay, I was intrigued by strange accented relatives. Grandad emigrated, aged 16, from Finland in 1902 to escape conscription into the Russian army. Destiny led me to live in Sweden, just across the Gulf of Bothnia from the family village. My recent two-book saga weaves true stories about discovering ancestors and how they impacted on my life. Perhaps more inspiring than their heroes journeys is—thank God—my own chrysalis to butterfly transformation.

3. My primary career as a musician and educator led to publications to help people perform their words and music with confidence. I teach—and inevitably write—what I needed to learn as a fledgling musician, teacher and speaker.

Question 2: 
Tell us about your writing. What do you write and why?
I've always loved reading and writing. Perhaps it's too self-revealing, but I hope to encourage others by sharing my own weaknesses and vulnerabilities. In Sounds and Souls: How music teachers change lives I wondered “How would I as an adult teach child Ruth with her sad lack of foundation?” 

Speak Out­—Don’t FreakOut begins with God’s encouragement to an insecure Moses sent off to confront Pharaoh.

Question 3: 
Who has read your work? Who would you like to read it?
Thank you to the Goodreads fraternity who posted reviews! I’m grateful to the Omega Writers CALEB panel who encouraged me with the Nonfiction Award for Burn My Letters. I hope my memoirs resonate with:
·       Those who share outback upbringing or emigrant heritage
· habitués and those who read and write life stories
·       Those who left political unrest to find safe haven in Australia
And any who present in public with words or music.

Question 4: What challenges do you face? What helps you the most?
Writing memoir is a vulnerable process and Midnight Sun took me close to tender bones. Thanks to buddy support and fellow Omega Writers for edits, insights and encouragement. My workshop “Writing Life Stories” shares lessons learned to dodge pitfalls.

Question 5: What is your favourite Writing Craft Book and why?
Carmel Bird’s Dear Writer is gentle and encouraging. And I learn from reading excellent writing.  

Question 6: 
If you were to give a shout-out to a CWD author, editor or scriptwriter– who would they be?

I was inspired to watch Simon Kennedy’s riveting story Safe Harbour as an SBS mini-series. His talent, hard work and faith reminds us we too, shall reap a harvest if we don’t give up. Anne Hamilton added layers of insights and healing to her editing.

Question 7: 
What are your writing goals for 2018? How will you achieve them?

As I poured so much into my memoir saga, this year I’m gentle with goals. But I’ve researched Norfolk Island First Fleet convicts and plan several novellas.

Question 8: 
How does your faith impact and shape your writing?
My earlier general market books are sprinkled with subtle grains of salt, e.g. a line about Christmas carols in Enjoy Playing the Clarinet; a page on prayer and a few verses in Confident Music Performance. In Midnight Sun I wrote how my fundamentalist upbringing developed an allergy to heavy messages. After accepting that I should indie-publish my memoirs I felt free to express and explore faith more than a mainstream house might have culled. When I present or am complimented for reading lessons in church (this frustrated actor gives Moses a subtle stutter) it’s an opportunity to give God glory for my development from chrysalis to butterfly.

Ruth Bonetti has been published by Oxford University Press, Albatross Books and a music publisher. Her imprint, Words and Music, published five books to develop confident presentation for those who perform through words or music. Ruth’s music and speaking career has taken her around Australia, Europe and the USA. She founded Omega Writers in 1992.
Ruth's Blog


  1. Great interview Jenny and Ruth. Loved the picture of you as a child Ruth and I can make you out easily. Same cute smile! :) Glad you discovered the joys of books and music at an early age as I did too. How they both enrich our lives! Congratulations on all the writing you've done to date and all the best with those novellas. Thank you for starting Omega Writers - what a gift you have given Australian Writers. Bless you Ruth.

  2. Thanks, Anusha, and what a metamorphosis it's been! Thanks for the opportunity to share, and especially how God enabled my journey as well as those of my ancestors.

  3. Enjoyed reading your exploits and how God has helped you grow from a shy bush child to a confident and eloquent speaker and author. I was thinking, that perhaps it was quite appropriate to give Moses a stutter as one of his excuses when God called him to lead the people of Israel was that he struggled to speak well. Loved your memoirs and look forward to reading your novellas once written.

    1. Thanks for your encouragement now and along the way to fruition, Jenney.

  4. In awe for the research you did for Burn My Letters And its sequel. Congratulations Ruthfor this mammoth task.

    1. That was a pleasure, Rita, and so absorbing. But can confess I flinch from detailed research for my next writing project. Much as first fleet convicts await me. Maybe try for therapy a light romance? But I'm not pushing my muse...