Posted by Diana Murdock
“Naomi Bulger is an Australian journalist who moved to New York City for adventure, and found love instead. She now lives in Melbourne, Australia, with her new family.”
So starts her official author biography, but it’s not that cut and dry. There is so much more to this talented writer than meets the eye. I’ve known Naomi for the last nine months (another one of my WANA sisters) and have gotten to know her through her incredibly colorful and feel-good blogs, but I never knew how much about her I didn’t know. Here’s what I found out about this special woman.
Naomi grew up in the Blue Mountains, north-west of Sydney. She and her family lived in the countryside, deep in the Australian bush, in a home without electricity, running water, or a telephone. She was fortunate to be able to spend her teen years exploring the rain forest and bracken fields that made up her homeland.
At the age of 19 she moved to Sydney, and later lived in New York, where she worked as a foreign correspondent. After graduating from college, she began her professional writing career. She has been a professional journalist and copywriter for more than 15 years, specializing in magazine feature writing and online publishing. She was the editor of one national and one international print magazine, and wrote feature stories for several others. Naomi has been published in several magazines in Australia and the US. She was editor of two magazines, and broadcast to more than 100 radio stations while senior journalist at Le Gras News.
She is the author of two nonfiction books, Talk Without Being Interrupted and Seventeen Summers (both out of print), and her poetry was included in the Australian Poetry Encouragement Award anthology in 2002.
Hmm…all of a sudden my cookie baking for the senior citizen home doesn’t seem so monumental.
Seriously, though, Naomi is awesome, isn’t she? Now here are some more questions she was generous enough to answer for us.
Naomi, you are a journalist, using facts to create your stories. Does some of that bleed into your fiction writing?
Hmm, I’m not sure if this is because of journalism, but I do use facts within my fiction. Not just places and names and world events, but real-life happenings. For example, there are a lot of ‘stories within stories’ in Airmail, and many of those stories are true. They are my stories, or stories that belong to my friends. Where the fiction comes in is that I gave those stories to my character, Anouk, and her reactions and responses to those experiences in her life were completely different to my or my friends’ reactions. So those stories took on a life of their own, and you could no longer call them facts.
Who came first, the journalist or the writer?
Definitely the writer. I was writing ‘books’ at the age of six: scribbling stories in stapled-together note-pads, illustrating them, and making cardboard book covers. I never wanted to be a journalist, in fact I think I was quite a snob about it. At university, I saw “journalism versus novel-writing” as akin to “graphic design versus fine art.” I fell into journalism later, because all I seemed to do in any job I had was write, and I was lucky enough to have a wonderful editor who took me under his wing and mentored me throughout my early career. Nowadays, I recognize how the one profession supports the other, and I believe (I hope) that the practice of straight-talking, authentic, plain English journalism has helped me improve my fiction writing.
What do you like best about being an indie writer?
I never intended to be an indie writer. Airmail was first accepted for publication by a small publisher here in Australia. It was a university publishing house, and when our federal government cut funding (almost all universities in Australia are public, not private), the publishers had to close down and all contracts including mine were cancelled. We were part of the way through editing at that stage. I let the book sit on the backburner for a while, because I knew it would never be a mainstream seller: a novella… in the magic realism genre… by an unknown author? Fat chance!
Eventually, when I returned to Australia from New York, I decided to think again. Exploring the indie route for this book was a direct response to my assessment of Airmail’s limited potential for mainstream sales. I chose iUniverse because they work with commercial editors and I was willing to pay a little more to have a truly professional product at the end. I am not vain enough to think I know everything about what it takes to have a good published book, just because I’m the author. I wanted this little story to get the well-rounded treatment and be the best I could make it. It was professionally edited, professionally sub-edited, professionally proofed and professionally designed. The ‘indie’ part meant I had power of veto against these recommendations if I wanted to use it, but I rarely did.
I do still struggle with being attached to the stigma of indie writing. And I don’t have the flexibility that some indie authors have of managing their own price-points or fully controlling their own edits or cover design. I wish I could say “Airmail is only 0.99 on Amazon for Mother’s Day,” but I don’t get any say in that. What has surprised me, most pleasantly, about taking this route is the community of other indie authors, editors and book bloggers I discovered online. I’d never even heard of ‘indie publishing’ before Airmail was already on the shelves. Now, I am part of a groundswell movement. That’s fun.
What do you do when you are not writing?
When I’m not writing fiction, I’m writing journalism, or copywriting, or writing my blog. But when I do manage to tear myself away from the computer, I am much more of a homebody than I used to be. I’ve been learning to cook recently, and discovered I love it. I try to walk as much as I can, which is a great way to explore my new neighborhood (we have moved around a lot in the past few years). I find a lot of pleasure digging in the garden, exploring unique markets, and of course losing myself in a book – I read every day. When it’s possible to get out of Australia, I find energy in travel. It renews me. But right now, I have a big new challenge on my hands: I have a baby due in four months, so I think if you ask me the same question in a little while my answer will be “nappies, nappies and nappies.”
Do you have another project in the making?
Yes, I’ve been working for a long time (longer than I care to admit) on a novel about a sommelier who is on a quest for an ancient and glorious wine. It’s a little bit dark, because my hero is really an antihero who will do anything it takes to gain his prize, in the belief that he is the only one truly worthy. I guess it’s a bit like Perfume: the Story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind, although not that dark. This book is a lot of fun to write, because it combines so many things I love: a mystery, a love story, wine, art, archaeology and travel. I hope to have finished the first draft by the time the baby arrives, but who knows how that will go.
You live in Australia, a place that many people would love to visit. Where would you love to visit (somewhere you have never been)?
How long have you got? Greece has been on my bucket list since high school, I want to visit the Delphic Oracle. The aurora borealis is something I have always wanted to see, and I’ve never been to Iceland, so a northern trip could be on the cards. I want to travel through Cambodia, and one day when things calm down in Africa, I will visit Kenya, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, and so many other countries. Same goes for Egypt and Jordan. Basically, name the place I haven’t been, I want to go there!
Before I let you go, where can your readers find you?
My blog: www.naomibulger.com
Facebook page: www.facebook.com/airmailthebook
One more bit of unfinished business…I put all of your names into a box and had my son, Jesse, draw a name. And…the winner of a paperback of Airmail is….Angela Peart! Congratulations, Angela! Thank you so much, everyone, for your support! I’m sure we’ll do it again when Naomi’s next novel is released!