I’m not going to say I’m one of those people who has been ‘writing all my life’. The truth is, this is the first book I’ve ever written. Like most people, I did a whole lot of writing at school, because I had to. I read a LOT, and occasionally, I did write poetry for fun. In Grade 8 (I was 12), I finished an exam early, and wrote a poem while I was waiting for everyone else. After the exam, I showed my teacher (RIP Mrs O), and she said “This is wonderful, but you didn’t write it. You’re too young to have written something this mature.” I don’t remember the poem exactly, because I was so upset, I threw it in the bin. I do remember it was a free verse poem (it didn’t rhyme), and it was about a man who loved a woman he didn’t know. I most definitely DID write it, so I was really hurt by Mrs O’s suggestion I didn’t. Maybe it turned me off writing for a while… maybe for a long time.
Funnily enough, two years later, once she had taught me for a while, Mrs O actually said “You’re very talented, you know. You should be a writer.” Well, that was lovely to hear. She followed it up with, “You could write a Mills & Boon book right now.” Which was funny, given I was 14 at the time and knew nothing about romance or sex. Two years after that, when I was in senior year, Mrs O came to me crying, because the Secondary Schools Board had rejected my ‘Very High Achievement’ mark, and given me only a ‘High Achievement’ on my leaving certificate. She said, with tears running down her cheeks, “You are one of the most gifted writers I’ve ever taught, and I’m so, so sorry we’ve let you down.” I was so excited to be getting out of those hallowed halls, I just said “That’s okay, Mrs O. I’ll be fine.” and skipped away, more concerned about what clothes I would pack to take on schoolies week.
So, I didn’t even consider writing a book for many years. My life involved so many other things. I studied a Bachelor of Business at university, with a Communications major in Film and Television Production. I wanted to be a film producer. I never did work in the industry though, as I was sidetracked by travel plans.
After graduation, I worked as a temp for two years, to save for a 12-month London adventure, which is kind of a rite of passage for Australians. One year turned into three – I backpacked around Europe, caught the Eurostar to Paris for long-weekend jaunts, explored the Canadian Rocky Mountains, and worked long days as a banking secretary to earn the overtime which allowed me to do all these things.
During that time, I also spent several months working on cruise ships in the Caribbean. Cruise ship jobs were like an urban legend when I first heard about them back in my uni years. My photography lecturer had told me about an ex-student who was working as a photographer on a cruise ship – she’d made lots of money and met a fabulous man. It sounded like a dream. So it wasn’t long after my arrival in London that I applied for work, and the dream became a reality. I saw beautiful islands, took hundreds of photos, and drunk a fair bit of rum punch.
Sadly, it didn’t work out. After a few months on two ships, I left – very disheartened by the behaviour I witnessed on-board each day. The cruise line itself was fine, the passengers were mostly awesome, and I definitely had some lovely colleagues, but it was truly a moral vacuum. I was no angel myself, but I was appalled by the actions of some of my married and committed counterparts. Over time, I think it changes you – and you either go with the flow, or rebel against it. I was somewhere in the middle, and it was with a heavy heart I returned to London to try other adventures.
The ensuing years contained many other exciting journeys too. Returning to Australia, I was the lead singer in a couple of bands, started to have great success in my marketing and public relations career, and married a really lovely man. When our relationship ended amicably after seven years, I was itching to do something new again.
I quit my new ‘dream’ job in a PR agency without another job to go to (It’s my M.O. – I must like the uncertainty), and ended up… back on another cruise ship! I know, I know, I have a short memory. This time, I was on the ‘Cruise Staff’ team as a Junior Assistant Cruise Director – which is basically the bottom of the ladder in that department. Again, my colleagues were mostly wonderful, as were many of the passengers… but the life being lived by many on the ship was not the place for me and I left again.
I moved to Paris that very week, spent a few months partying there, and then returned to London to follow my other bucket list dream of singing on stage in a West End musical. I took singing, dancing, acting and accent lessons, and even spent a semester at dance school in New York City. I went for a handful of auditions, including my dream role of Rizzo in Grease, where everybody else at the audition was about ten years younger than me. I didn’t get any professional roles in the end. The GFC meant nobody was leaving their musical contracts, I no longer had an agent, and also, I just wasn’t good enough.
Over these few years, I probably went on at least one hundred dates. Obviously I wanted to meet someone, but I was also impossible to please – when I lived on my own, I got bored, but when I lived with other people, they drove me so crazy, I had to get out of the house! Internet dating is awesome for that 🙂 As anyone who has ever placed a singles ad on Gumtree in London will know, if you place a reasonably decent, articulate ad, you’ll get hundreds of responses in a matter of hours. This was a really interesting, fun and sometimes hilarious time – and makes me feel like a bit of a dating expert! Haha
Eventually, I was offered two jobs as a holiday park entertainer (in Cornwall, UK and Turkey), and took the one in Cornwall… I also stopped looking for love. Of course, as Murphy’s Law would have it, I then met a charismatic and wonderful Ecuadorian man, named Andres… Six weeks later, we were engaged, I moved with him to Ecuador, and we were married. Less than a year after that, we were back in Australia, where we now live happily with our beautiful son, Boston.
When Boston was born, I just knew the time had come for me to write. With the help of a mentor (James Parsons from Help Writing a Book), I spent months writing a chapter plan and character profiles for a book I had in mind, about a girl who works on a cruise ship in the Caribbean. Over an on-and-off two year period, working full-time and looking after an energetic baby, I wrote Sex, Lies, and Cruising. It is inspired by real life events, but, as James advised me – “Think of the real inspiration, then wave goodbye and write a good story”. So my book is fiction, the characters are made up, and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. In fact, what happened in real life is probably much more shocking!
I’d love to hear from you with any thoughts, comments, or stories of your own. Please contact me at any time through this site, or my social media channels.
As this book is part of a trilogy, I plan to publish all three of them in the coming 12 months. I’m currently working on the second book in the series, Love, Drugs, and New York. I have many more story ideas and plan to bring you many more in the future.
Talk soon 🙂