It is not uncommon to see Port Pirie people shine in various fields of art with one of our own excelling as a book writer.
Paula Weston worked as a cadet journalist on The Flinders News, also writing occasionally to The Recorder when she was only 17-years-old.
“Because I’d spent most of my teen years in the Flinders Ranges, I travelled across the range most weekends to play netball and spent a lot of time on the road for the newspaper,” she said.
“I was the only reporter on the paper, aside from the editor, and took most of my own photos. It was a lot of fun, and I learned an enormous amount in my time there.”
But it was not all work, as she enjoyed the social life of Port Pirie.
“I had a HQ Holden, so the done thing in those days was to drive ‘Mainies’ most nights and then hang out with my mates down at the beach.
“I remember playing pool at the BHAS Club and going to the Central Hotel on Friday nights - once I’d turned 18 of course. And I also have fond memories of the Crab Festival at Port Germein and eating pie floaters at the pie van.”
She moved to Brisbane in 1989 to pursue her journalism career with Quest Newspapers, where she worked for 11 years before moving across in government communication. At present she has her own freelance writing business in partnership with a graphic designer friend, as well as writing books.
Mrs Weston said she has always wanted to write for a living.
“I’ve always loved reading novels and have been writing stories since primary school,” she said.
“I didn’t write my first manuscript until I was in my early 20s, which was soon followed by my first rejection slip.
“The first manuscript back in 1994 came from an idea I had while sitting in court one day - as a journalist, not a defendant.”
Over a decade she wrote a number of other manuscripts, including an other world fantasy series, which was the project that scored her a contract with her agent Lyn Tranter of Australian Literary Management in Sydney.
Her latest book Shadows started with about the idea of two people with a complicated history that only one of them remembers.
“It was an idea that had been bouncing around in my head while I was working on the fantasy series, so I’d kept pushing it aside,” she said.
“My agent came close to scoring a publishing deal on the fantasy series, and when that opportunity fell through, I went through my usual round of self-doubt and frustration. Once I dusted myself off, I knew I needed a break from the pressure I’d put myself under to land a publishing deal. “I just wanted to write something for fun, and the paranormal idea was the perfect outlet.”
She then started writing not worrying about anyone would think.
“I wrote a few scenes, which became a few chapters, and suddenly I had half a novel,” she said.
“Characters had never come so easily and I’d never enjoyed writing so much. I sat down and fleshed out the plot in greater detail and realised I had a story that would take more than one book to tell.
“My agent loved the idea and those early chapters, and encouraged me to keep going. The result was Shadows – and an outline for the four-book Rephaim series.”
Mrs Weston said many writers have inspired her and also taught a lot about new writing techniques.
“I really admire Australian writers Markus Zusak, Peter Temple and Melina Marchetta for the way they use words, build characters and create a sense of place,” she said.
“I also love Cath Crowley and Vikki Wakefield – two of Australia’s best writers for young adults.”
American writer Maggie Stiefvater and Cormac McCarthy, JK Rowling and JRR Tolkien are other names mentioned by her.
Her books Shadows and Haze will also be published in Canada and the United States.