Interview with Cecelia Hopkins-Drewer

Cecelia Hopkins-Drewer, author

Cecelia Hopkins-Drewer, author

Interviewing Australian speculative fiction author, Cecelia Hopkins-Drewer

I appreciate the opportunity to interview you, Cecelia.

Where are you from?

I grew up in the Barossa Valley in South Australia. This is a lovely wine-making area. My Dad was a shearer, so I literally played with lambs on farms.

I moved to New South Wales and lived there for ten years, which had an influence on my thinking. People in the eastern states definitely drive further and hurry more! I have also visited Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia, so I have a good appreciation for this great country.

Do you believe there is something uniquely Australian about your writing?

Well yes and no.

At this point in time, I have two main streams of novels…the ‘Australiana/Oceana’ and the ‘Americana’.

The ‘Australiana’ has developed from my own experience and attempts to add local colour to my writing. The primary example of this is Silver Springtime, which is set in South-East Queensland. I have two planned sequels, both set in Queensland.  This gives me a perfect excuse to book holidays to Queensland as ‘research’!

The ‘Americana’ has developed from study and research. I did a research project on H.P. Lovecraft through the University of New South Wales in 1994. I also did media subjects, which focused primarily on American films, through the University of New England. As an independent writer, I found myself facing a largely American market and decided to reach into my studies and interests for inspiration. The primary example of my Americana is Mystic Evermore, which is set in an imaginary town in Georgia, USA.

Do you belong to any Adelaide Writers’ or Artist’s association?

Not at the moment. I was accepted by the Sydney Horror Writer’s Association to a certain extent, and their subsidiary body the ‘Gargolye Club’, because to my work on H.P. Lovecraft. I am still in contact with some of the writers there, who are lovely people despite their occasionally puzzling obsession with the ugly and horrible. (Myself, I just like a good scare!)

For some years, I was involved with the Folk Federation of South Australia. This group was primarily interested in music, and secondarily interested in poetry and dance. However, it encouraged anything to do with multicultural traditions, myth and legend, and fitted well with my interests. The Folk Federation of South Australia also stood as an alternative to ‘high art’ which was very post-modern in its outlook, at least at the time. Folk Art is also a little more nostalgic than ‘popular culture’ which tends to represent the other stream in society.

The best fit for me at the moment would probably be the Jane Austen Society of Adelaide; I keep meaning to drop by…Also, I sometimes like to practice a second art, such as dance or flower arranging which might involve me in a group.

Have you ever written any poetry?

Yes, you can find my poetry online at Poetrysoup.com.

Do you draw or paint, or use a computer package to produce your own covers?

My friend Allan Schultz is a keen photographer. Several of my covers feature photographs he has taken for me.

My fantasy covers are harder to fill using photographs, so I have taken to drawing and colouring through sheer desperation. I generally assemble these covers using computer packages.

Where can Australian readers order your books?

Amazon.com or Amazon.com.au. Unfortunately, Amazon.com is more comprehensive.
Angus and Robertson online.
Book Depository online.

Do you have any book signings or public appearances planned for the next few months?

Not at this point in time. One of my weaknesses is that I prefer writing to going out and marketing.

Another challenge I face is bringing multiple copies to Australia at a reasonable price. Ingram Spark have a printing press in Australia but they still appear to charge the $US price when I order my books. I usually have a limited number of copies available for sale, depending on the title. When I locate a cheaper source and have multiple copies in my bag, I will be visiting libraries, cafes, pubs or whoever will open their doors to a local writer.

What are you working on at the moment?

Ha, ha, tax! Oh, that is not allowed to be a work of fiction…

The ‘Americana': I need to proof and release the paperback version of Saints and Sinners because I got slightly ahead of myself releasing the ebook. If any of you are familiar with the Kindle Scout program – you may know I was involved, campaigning three times. The organizers announced the closure of the program and I had the manuscript of Saints and Sinners almost ready to go – so I threw it into the very last campaign ever. The last campaign caused less ‘buzz’ than usual, but I felt participating was historic.

The ‘Australiana/Oceana': the sequel to Silver Springtime, entitled Faith and Love exists in draft form and requires my attention editing. Some dramatic changes occur in the lives of the characters in the second book…if you thought everything was settled by the end of the first book, you have a surprise coming. The finale to the SILVER SPRINGS UNIVERSITY series – possibly titled, Hope and Joy, is about two thirds written. I need to finish this of course. I usually write one book to ‘amuse myself’ during the boring and painstaking process of editing the previous book.

What does the future hold for your writing?

More vampires and werewolves, some science fantasy or science fiction. New ideas and more genres – I hope. Somehow, I don’t choose the writing – the writing chooses me.

Thank you for your insightful responses, Cecelia.

All for Love by Cecekia Hopkins-Drewer

About the Author

I grew up in the Barossa Valley, an area of South Australia predominantly settled by German immigrants. As a dark-haired, tanned little English girl (remember Britain was at one stage occupied by the Romans), I was very different and mercilessly teased.I remember the struggle to learn to read – painfully stringing three letter words together – there was Sam and Pam and a ball. Sometimes there was a fat cat on a mat or dog with a ball. Reading was a slow process until one birthday, I sat down with my gift, a Famous Five book by Enid Blyton. The mystery story was so exciting, I finished it in one session and I was a fast reader from that moment onwards. I loved Enid Blyton, her Wishing Chair stories, Magic Faraway Tree stories, fairy-land and toy-land stories as well as the mysteries.A couple of years later, I discovered The Lion, Witch and Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. It was so amazing, I read it seven times in a row! Eventually, I discovered there was a whole series… I survived on this sort of fair until I was sixteen and read The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien. That gave me a taste for mature fantasy. In search of more riveting reading, I discovered Stephen King and James Herbert. Stephen King’s Danse Macabre led me to H.P. Lovecraft, on whom I completed a Master’s project.My Thesis entitled: THE LITERARY MANIFESTO OF H.P. LOVECRAFT: A WRITER IN SEARCH OF A THEORY (1993-1994) was completed as a reseach project which replaced several subjects in my Master of Arts through the Univeristy of New South Wales. The last chapter was considered to have the most appeal to fans of Lovecraft’s work and was extracted and published as “Symbolism of Style in `The Strange High House in the Mist'”, Lovecraft Studies 31, edited by S.T. Joshi, pp.11-15. (Published under the name of Cecelia Drewer).In 1988, I wrote my first full length fictional manuscript, often scribbling on the train as I travelled from Newcastle to Sydney to attend post graduate study at university. In the year 2000, I brought my second full length manuscript into being and 2004 saw my third full length manuscript. All are very different genres and all are waiting for readers! I have always been clever at creating dialogue and in 2010, a Nativity Play I wrote was produced by a local church.In 2016 I wrote an online course on “Poetry Appreciation and Analysis Skills” on Open Learning. The course can be found at: https://www.openlearning.com/courses/poetry-appreciation-and-analysis-skills .I also write for Weekend Notes (an online magazine) and Hubpages. My Poetry can be found on Poetry Soup.

 Cecelia's Books - V2

Books by Cecelia Hopkins-Drewer

Silver Springtime (2017) – A Christian College romance set in SE Queensland, Australia in the 1980s.
All For Love (2018) – Romantic adventures of reality television contestants. (Set in Sydney, New South Wales).
Mystic Evermore (2018) – Gothic romance and adventure aimed at the young adult market and beyond. (Set in an imaginary town in Georgia, USA).
Saints and Sinners (2018) – Dramatic sequel to Mystic Evermore, currently available in ebook only.
Non-Fiction: Special Pictures to Talk About (2017) – Speech development teaching aid, illustrated by Allan Schultz.
Various works of poetry and literary criticism in magazines and anthologies edited by others.

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