Cotton Wool Is Bad for Creativity by Undertow Author Kiri R. Newton
I’m going to hazard a guess and say you’re sitting at your computer reading this right? It’s a shot in the dark but I’ll also say your inside. If I am right so far then I’m coming over there and I am about to slap you over the back of the head and tell you to go outside. Why? Well for starters writers and book worms don’t get nearly as much fresh air and sunshine as they should but there’s another reason.
You see writers thrive on experience, especially bad experience it seems. We regularly make fun of song writers such as Adele who seemingly have one bad relationship then go off and write a new album that is so tragic the sound engineer commits suicide. But as writers are we that different? Not really, or at least I’m not. But here’s the thing, Undertow would never have been written if I hadn’t stuck my neck out.
For starters, when I was five my parents decided to abandon all sense and move to the South Pacific from Jandowae which is in Queensland. Now that’s a pretty loony thing to do, but growing up over there made me who I am and certainly shaped my writing. Apart from spending every spare moment in the ocean or on desert islands, I also spent a lot of time sat at the feet of my friend’s parents and grand-parents listening to the local legends and mythology. This shaped my thinking; it made me believe in things that I probably wouldn’t if my family had stayed in Australia. Despite the fact Tongans are deeply religious people who believe in God and the bible, if you ask them where the islands came from they will say Maui pulled it from the ocean with his giant fishhook. Or if you ask them what the shadows on the moon are they will tell you it’s a young woman who ran away from home after the families woven mats were blown away because of her carelessness, climbed a giant vine and lives on the moon weaving mats to repay her family. It’s not that they are uneducated or backwards, it’s that their own legends are so deeply embedded in their hearts that even the threat of hellfire won’t deter their beliefs.
The second event that caused Undertow was falling for someone I probably shouldn’t have. Without going into gory details and sounding like Adele, the person I fell for had no intention of being in a relationship with me which wasn’t so much the problem more the fact that he was aware of my feelings for me and proceeded to string me along regardless. He strung me along to the point that I flew over to Fiji to visit him, where this all became horribly apparent.
But visiting Fiji was what launched this novel. Maybe it was the cocktails I drank by the bucket or the hours spent swimming in the ocean and mooching up and down the beach or nasty bug I caught from the water that made me borderline delirious for twenty-four hours but on the flight home Undertow launched itself at me and the damn thing pretty much wrote itself. The way in which that relationship crashed and burned produced the ending that this story has as well.
The third event wasn’t what caused me to write the story; it more put a fire in my belly to be a published writer. I’m resisting the urge to name him but my Senior Year co-ordinator was a bitter, older fellow who had his retirement in sight and whose life goal it seemed was to crush our hopes and dreams. Long story short, I crossed him by simply standing up for what I believed in and he took badly to it. And due to the fact I wasn’t about to be intimidated by his arrogance he attempted to humiliate me in front of my class by telling me that ‘you will be a failure in life if you do not go to university, no job, writing or otherwise will take anyone who hasn’t been to university seriously and hell will freeze over before you become a writer’. Let’s just say I walked out of that class and without using the language I used I thought ‘I’ll show you.’
And that’s my point. Sure some of the above things that happened to me were not very nice, but they turned into something wonderful. Which is why I am now telling you to turn off the computer and GO THE HECK OUTSIDE AND LIVE YOUR DAMN LIVES!!
For far too long these sailor-drowning, ship-sinking sea sirens have been portrayed as happy, peaceful creatures who want nothing more than to fall in love with a prince and live happily ever after. Undertow is an unconventional twist on one of the oldest mythological creatures known to man.
About the Author: Its weird right but as an author I could tell you about my characters inside out and yet when people ask me to talk about myself I go all quiet. Anyways, here I go.
I am a child of ‘91 born in Jandowae, a tiny little town out past Dalby. When I was five my parents decided to pack everything up and move to Tonga in the South Pacific after Dad visited there and mum fell in love with the place after reading a book about it. So I grew up in a third world country, fluent in a second language by the time I was eight and lived amongst the locals who I was friends with.
When I was thirteen my father passed away and due to the fact that the government refused to pay my mum a pension over there like they did my father, we were forced to move back to Australia.
As for my writing career, I started writing progressively longer short stories in Grade 5 where one teacher noted on my report card that ‘I had unique ideas and an unusual talent’. By Grade 7 I had completed my first novel a post-apocalyptic fiction where cats are the highest life form and live basically as we do and follows the lives of a litter of cats, the characters based on a litter of cats belonging to my neighbour. I continued writing different things from horsey stories to Phantom of the Opera fan-fiction right through my teenage years, nothing serious, mostly just a lot of scribbling.
In Grade 12 I realized that if I was going to be serious about being a writer I needed to finish stories, not just have a lot of random scribbles to my name. So forgoing all my assignments I finished my second book called Dynamite which is an Australiana tale about a racehorse. Two years later I went on holidays to Fiji, came home and three months later Undertow was completed. In the middle there I wrote a Tolkien-esque fantasy epic called The Dark Assassin with my now ex-boyfriend. The year after that I completed Hazardous, which will be my next published title.