Joy Dettman, author of Ripples On A Pond, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

by |March 18, 2013

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Joy Dettman

author of Ripples On A Pond, Wind in the Wires and many more

Ten Terrifying Questions


1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

My father was a bush poet, a frustrated writer and a hoarder of old documents. When he died I inherited his diaries and a receipt for my birth at a private hospital in Echuca, Vic, where, for an eleven day confinement, the bill, including a laundry fee, was seven pound, ten shillings and sixpence. ($l5.05). He paid cash, and for this was given a sixpenny discount. My primary education was in a two roomed school in NSW. Thereafter, I travelled fifty miles each day (80 K’s), to High School, in an unreliable bus over unreliable roads.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

As a nine year old I read The Shy One, by Frank Dalby. It broke my heart, but for the first time in my life I read of paddocks, not fields, of gum trees, not oak and elm, of dust and scrub and a land a recognised. I have been writing since about Australia. I recall no ambitions to become a nurse, teacher or other. I gormandised in libraries. A book from the shelves might absorb my mind for a day. Writing my own stories absorbed my mind for weeks, months – at nine, twelve, eighteen, thirty – and all of the years thereafter.

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

There was no doubt in my eighteen year old mind that a writer filled his messy exercise books with an incredible tale, posted it off to a publisher and a few month later the publisher returned money and a bound book. I was to learn otherwise. It took umpteen rewrites and over ten years before I managed to squeeze Mallawindy in through a publisher’s rear door.

4. What were three works of art – book or painting or piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?

Music soothes the soul. I tried my hand at an electronic organ but was unable to create the music I heard in my head. I tried a paint brush on canvas, but my brush could not reproduce what my eye perceived. I was into photography for some time. Then I bought a typewriter – and later a computer. My electronic organ died for lack of use, my paints dried up in their tubes and my camera now photographs the grandchildren.

5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?

I am musically incompetent, and drawing is hard. I do keep my hand in, though, creating the chapter avatars in the US editions, and directing the art on my website and having a lot of input on covers and the like. Some day I’d like to get back into it.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

Ripples On A Pond, book five of the Woody Creek series, is the tale of a self sufficient little timber town and of the folk who live there.

The series opens in the twenties with Pearl In A Cage and the birth of Jenny. We watch her and the town survive the great depression, the second world war. In Ripples On A Pond, set in the late sixties and seventies, progress and unemployment are beginning to erode Woody Creek.

The saw mills, once the town’s major employers are closing, the town’s youth are escaping to the cities, reliable transport and a large town nearby is ripping the heart out of a once thriving little business centre.

Jenny is still there, watching the old brigade attempt to hang onto the glory days of the past.

Click here to buy Ripples On A Pond from Booktopia,
Australia’s Local Bookstore

7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?

Why do we pick up a book? I pick it up to escape for a time into a world that is not my own. When I close the book, I expect to care about the characters and for them to stay with me a while. That is what I hope my readers take away from each of my novels.

8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?

I believe I’ve answered that one at Question 4.

(BookGuru: Ta. )

9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

My most ambitious goal to date has been to complete the six books of the Woody Creek series in six years. One year and one book more and it is done. As to what comes later? No doubt something will come to me.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

The best advice I was given was to find a chair and apply my backside to it for elongated periods of time. I can’t improve on that, other than to add, don’t waste your time in seeking that perfect opening sentence. You’ll change it a dozen times. Far better to find a rough ending. This will give your work a focus. Without an end to aim for, many writers become lost in words, as do their readers.

Joy, thank you for playing.

 Click here to buy Ripples On A Pond from Booktopia,
Australia’s Local Bookstore

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About the Contributor

While still in his twenties, John Purcell opened a second-hand bookshop in Mosman, Sydney, in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Since then he has written, under a pseudonym, a series of very successful novels, interviewed hundreds of writers about their work, appeared at writers’ festivals, on TV (most bizarrely in comedian Luke McGregor’s documentary Luke Warm Sex) and has been featured in prominent newspapers and magazines. ​Now, as the Director of Books at, Australia’s largest online bookseller, he supports Australian writing in all its forms. He lives in Sydney with his wife, two children, three dogs, five cats, unnumbered gold fish and his overlarge book collection. His novel, The Girl on the Page, will be published by HarperCollins Australia in October, 2018.

Follow John: Twitter Website


  • July 25, 2013 at 8:05 am

    Thanks for that insight on Joy. I have read most of her works and all of The Woody Creek books so far. I can’t wait for the sixth episode. She is a treasure in Australian Literature.!

  • s russell

    August 13, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    yes, thanks joy, also can,t wait for 6th book, check bookstores every time I,m out hope it will be soon,

  • jenni walker

    September 27, 2013 at 8:58 pm

    when is the 6th book coming out I can’t get on her website it keeps crashing….

  • Bev Kivell

    January 26, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    I have loved each and every one of Joy’s books, but the Woody Creek series stand alone. I never want them to finish, and yet want to know what happens at the end. So pleased to hear that there is a 6th book and can’t wait. Joy writes books as I believe they should be easy to read.

  • October 29, 2015 at 2:39 am

    I have read all the woody creek series of books and I am waiting for the last one! I have loved following Jenny’s story and can’t wait to see how it ends. I haven’t read any of Joy Dettmans other books, but I will remedy that soon.

  • June 27, 2016 at 10:39 pm

    Joy, is there an actual Woody Creek in Victoria or is it ficticious.
    The only town that comes close to me is a town called Wood End.
    I have enjoyed all the series so muvch I have bought the lot.
    THank you for a great read!
    Robyn Lees.

  • June 27, 2016 at 10:43 pm

    Is there an actual towm called Woody Creek.
    The only other town that comes to mind is Wood End.
    The reason I ask is most of your town names exist.

    I am so enjoying you books that I have started to buy the series.

    A great read thanks Joy so much..

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