Allison Tait describes herself thus on her website:\r\nI'm a freelance writer, author and blogger, living large(ish) in a small(ish) town. I write a lot. I combine my day job (feature articles & non-fiction books), with my night job (fiction), and my 24\/7 job (family). Fortunately, I gave up sleep years ago!\u00a0\u201c\r\nA professional writer for over 20 years, Allison started her career as a staff writer for magazines and newspapers, and in recent times has added online publishing to her list.\r\n\r\nAllison\u2019s latest incarnation is writer of children\u2019s fiction. Her first book in a series - The MapMaker Chronicles - Race to the End of the World \u2013 is published by Hachette Australia, under the name A.L.Tait and has just been released in October 2014. It is the first in a trilogy that is already garnering her a legion of young fans across the country.\r\n\r\nAllison lives on the NSW South Coast with her family and a very cheeky puppy.\r\n\r\nAllison Tait, author of the Mapmaker Chronicles...\r\nCongratulations on the release of the Mapmaker Chronicles. You changed your writing name for this novel. What was the motivation behind this decision?\r\nI didn\u2019t so much change my name as abbreviate it! I wanted to differentiate between the writing I do for adults and this book, which is for kids.\r\nWhen did you decide to write children\u2019s fiction? Or did it choose you? Can you outline the start of the creative process behind this project? Was there a light bulb moment?\r\nI think The Mapmaker Chronicles chose me! I never imagined I\u2019d be an author of children\u2019s books. When I began writing fiction, I wrote women\u2019s fiction (which I still write, and so far have completed two full-length (90,000+ words) manuscripts, one of which went very close to publication and the second of which I am redrafting).\r\n\r\nBut I have two boys, now aged seven and ten, and they are both fans of the \u2018head-hurting\u2019 question. We have long-and-involved conversations about where space ends, how high the stars are, whether there are any places in the world that remain unexplored, which dwarf from\u00a0The Hobbit\u00a0I would invite to a dinner party\u2026 you get the idea.\r\n\r\nSeveral of those conversations, close together, led to one of those ideas that make you tingle all over. \u201cHow far does space go?\u201d asked Mr10, one night.\r\nNobody knows,\u201d I answered.\r\n\r\nThen the next night: \u201cHow did they map the world?\u201d\r\n\r\n\u201cWell, they had to go out there and find out,\u201d I answered, distractedly.\r\n\r\n\u201cThey must have been brave,\u201d he answered.\r\n\r\n\u201cThey were,\u201d I said. \u201cThey would have felt exactly as we feel looking out into space, not knowing how far it goes or what\u2019s out there.\u201d\r\nAnd just like that, in my mind I saw a race to map the world, and a boy who really didn\u2019t want to go.\r\n\r\n\r\nYou have many writing projects on the go at any one time. How do you manage to delve in and out of genres and characters, fiction and non-fiction? Does one writing style provide relief for another?\r\nOver many years of freelance writing, I\u2019ve learnt to juggle lots of projects. I like to have one long-length manuscript on the go, and then I work on articles, corporate work, websites and other things as they come up, using the deadlines as the best way to prioritise work. I really like to work this way \u2013 it means I\u2019m never bored and I don\u2019t get writers\u2019 block because I simply move on to something else for a while if the words aren\u2019t flowing for one project. I don\u2019t work on more than one fiction project at a time \u2013 I just push through until I have it completed, putting aside any other \u2018brilliant ideas\u2019 for later.\r\nWith so much on your calendar how do you manage your writing time? Do you have a strict routine? Do you have to make personal sacrifices?\r\nI have a mammoth To Do list and the paid work always comes first. When you have so many deadlines, it\u2019s a simple matter of prioritising what needs to be done each day to ensure those deadlines are met. I don\u2019t have a strict routine for writing in that I just do what needs to be done each day \u2013 but I\u2019m at my desk while the boys are at school and I often work at night.\r\nWhat advice do you have for starting out writers when it comes to pitching stories and managing deadlines? How do you deal with rejection?\r\nOh, this is such a massive subject. I have a lot of information on my blog at allisontait.com that\u2019s full of advice for freelance writers and my eBook Get Paid To Write: The Secrets of Freelancing Success is full of tips and tricks of the trade. But as a starting point:\r\n\r\n\tA pitch is not just an outline of a subject you\u2019d like to write about. You need to find the angle of the subject that is new and exciting and you need to sell it. It\u2019s a real art form and it takes a lot of practice. I often suggest to my students at the Australian Writers\u2019 Centre that they open a magazine, read a story and then try to write the pitch that got the story published.\r\n\tReliability is essential for any freelance writer, and to be reliable you need to be organised. When you get commissioned to write an article, start making phone calls and lining up interviews that day \u2013 even if your deadline is four weeks away. Things don\u2019t always go to plan and you need to allow yourself time to change interviewees or find a new case study or hose down any other disaster that arises.\r\n\tRejection is part of the game. It\u2019s no fun and I don\u2019t think anyone ever grows to like it, but you do get used to it (sad but true). Remember that the editor is not rejecting you \u2013 it\u2019s just that the particular idea you\u2019re pitching is not right for that publication at that time. Have a look at your pitch, rethink it with a new publication in mind and try again. Don\u2019t just send out one blanket pitch to six publications \u2013 that will result in a lot of rejection.\r\n\r\nDo you have any remedies for writer's block? (\u2013 taking your cheeky puppy for a walk?)\r\nEverybody deals with this in their own way. As I said, I don\u2019t really get writer's block per se, but I do allow myself a lot of thinking time when I\u2019m writing a manuscript. I find that my mind works best when my body is involved in some kind of mindless, repetitive activity, so I walk (not with the puppy though \u2013 he\u2019s too distracting!), I wash dishes, I weed the garden, I hang out washing\u2026 And I usually find that if I do that for a while, my mind busily unravels whatever plot problem I\u2019ve struck.\r\nDo you find the self-motivation and the discipline required difficult?\r\nHonestly, no. I never struggle to motivate myself to write fiction because I love it. I\u2019d rather be doing that than just about anything else. When it comes to the freelance work, my day job, I have been a fulltime freelance writer for more than 10 years now and I know how to get an article written. Yes, some days I\u2019d rather faff about on the internet and tweet, but that just means that I sit down later that night and get the story done. If I don\u2019t write the article, I don\u2019t get paid \u2013 that\u2019s a great motivator!\r\nWriters these days have to be very technically savvy and keep an online presence. How do you juggle your social media commitments with writing?\r\nI think that this comes down to time in the game, as well as time on the field. I have been blogging for nearly five years now and have worked through several different social media platforms to accompany that, whittling it down to the ones that I like. Over the years, I\u2019ve built up an amazing community across my blog, Twitter and Facebook. I do a bit on G+ and Pinterest, but mostly I go to the others because I really like them. My advice to people in this area is two-fold: do what you like and, most importantly, what comes easily to you so that it doesn\u2019t feel like work, and secondly, don\u2019t expect miracles overnight \u2013 it takes time to find your networks and create a community.\r\nDo you find writing a lonely experience? It can also be an anti-social exercise. How do the people in your life deal with that?\r\nI like spending time by myself. I have a busy family and social life outside of my work, and I\u2019m more than happy to be alone in a quiet house during the day. I don\u2019t write when my boys are around \u2013 or try not to (there are occasions when deadlines need to be met) \u2013 and I don\u2019t work on weekends.\r\nDo you have a routine \/ a particular place and time when you write?\r\nI write in my study. I\u2019ve tried writing in cafes but they\u2019re too distracting. I work while the boys are at school and at night after everyone goes to bed.\r\nWho \/what inspires your writing? Who are your favourite authors?\r\nI\u2019m inspired by everything around me. I\u2019m inspired by the joy I get from bringing a story to life. I have so many favourite authors and favourite books that I don\u2019t think I could even begin to name them.\r\nWhy writing? Have you always wanted to be a writer?\r\nI think that writing is something that chooses you. I wanted to be an actor for a long time, but then I realised that the stage fright would kill me. I fell into magazine journalism and it kept me happy for a long time. And then I decided I was going to write fiction, so I sat down to give it a go. My first attempts were woeful, but you learn with every manuscript you write.\r\nDo you have any further advice for starting out writers?\r\nMy main advice is to stop talking about writing and actually write. You\u2019ll never get a book written if you don\u2019t make the time to sit down and write it.\r\nWhat is your next major writing project now that the Mapmaker Chronicles is released?\r\nI\u2019ve just completed the third manuscript in The Mapmaker Chronicles series, and I\u2019m redrafting an adult novel that I\u2019m hoping might be my first published in that area. That should take me to the end of the year. After that, who knows?\r\n***\r\nWriter's Edit would like to thank Allison for taking the time to share her experiences with us.\r\n\r\nIf you'd like to learn more about Allison Tait, you can check out her website here.