Ten Terrifying Questions with Sasha Wasley!

by |April 29, 2022
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Sasha Wasley was born and raised in Perth, Western Australia. She completed a PhD in feminist literature at Murdoch University in 2006, and went on to work as a copywriter on topics ranging from mine safety to sex therapy. Sasha’s debut novel was published in 2015, after which she gave up her copywriting business to pursue her fiction writing career. Today, she lives and writes in the Perth hills region with her partner and two daughters. A lover of animals, Sasha spends her free time pottering in the garden with her flock of backyard chickens. Sasha is the author of Spring Clean for the Peach Queen (2021) and A Caravan like a Canary (2022).

Today, Sasha Wasley is on the blog to take on our Ten Terrifying Questions! Read on …

Sasha Wasley

Sasha Wasley (Photo by Trevor O’Sullivan).

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

I was born, raised and schooled in Perth, WA. I’ve never lived anywhere else and it’s hard to imagine doing so, but that might be why I love exploring new places when I’m on holidays. As a kid, we moved house a lot, but it was always throughout the metropolitan area. At one stage, in between houses, I even lived in a caravan for a few weeks (an experience that was highly instructive in the writing of A Caravan Like a Canary).

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

When I was 12, I wanted to be a park ranger, just like Kathy from A Country Practice. I longed to be outside with nature, busting stereotypes.

When I was 18, I wanted to be a vet – I still loved animals and science. I missed out on getting into the course by a hair and was at a loose end for years, trying to work out an alternative career path. Honestly, I could have tried to get into vet studies again but it didn’t even occur to me. I knew I loved writing and had always wanted to be an author but figured that didn’t happen to real people. I ended up doing a Bachelor of Arts, playing around with subjects from archaeology and Latin to music history and children’s literature.

When I was 30, I had been an academic for several years and was completing my PhD, but I also had a toddler and was pregnant. I realised academia was super hard with kids and switched gears, becoming a freelance copywriter.

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you don’t have now?

I believed I would never get divorced. Found out that was wrong at 35 years of age.

4. What are three works of art – this could be a book, painting, piece of music, film, etc – that influenced your development as a writer?

I love exploring emotion, fear and relationships in my writing. Goya’s paintings had a dark, uncanny feel that really spoke to me, especially Witches’ Sabbath. In music, it was artists like Paul Dempsey and Counting Crows, singing lyrics that held a deep, underlying sadness with an edge of hope. Even when my characters find themselves in the direst of circumstances, I like to give them hope. One of the authors (there are many) that was formative in my writing was Elizabeth Jolley. She had a way of writing about the extraordinary inner lives of ordinary people that made me strive to create compelling, memorable characters.

‘We tend to live life on autopilot, doing whatever we need to do to make a buck – but we need meaning and purpose as much as we need to pay the bills.’

5. Considering the many artistic forms out there, what appeals to you about writing a novel?

I can’t be as concise as a poem needs to be and my drawing abilities are sadly lacking. And I never learnt to play an instrument. But more importantly, I love the depth and scope a novel gives me to tell a complete story with complex characters.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel!

In A Caravan Like a Canary, you’ll meet Tara, her brother Zac and Zac’s best mate Danh. They are on a road trip up the coast to bring the ancient, yellow family caravan to Tara’s dying mother.

On the way, the memories of what happened the first time she took a trip in the caravan rise up before Tara, forcing her to confront old trauma and its consequences. She also finds herself falling for Danh, who has somehow found a way to throw away life’s script and live his dreams.

But there’s trouble following Zac up the coast, and it’s Tara who has to solve his problems, all while she works out if she’s courageous enough to seize her own dream.

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

I really hope people think about their big dreams – the things they would do if they could – and remember to take them seriously. We tend to live life on autopilot, doing whatever we need to do to make a buck – but we need meaning and purpose as much as we need to pay the bills.

8. Who do you most admire in the writing world and why?

I love Tana French’s writing (she’s an Irish suspense author). It’s so understated and realistic, and yet the story rarely takes you where you expect it to go. She writes fascinating plots without any sacrifice of character development.

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

I aim to write and publish an adult’s book (as Sasha Wasley) and a children’s book (as Ash Harrier) per year and continue growing my writing career. My dream is to have the freedom to travel around the country (and world) whenever I feel like taking off – and writing’s definitely something you can do on the move.

10. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Back yourself! If you’re serious about being an author, do the things you need to do to advance your career. You don’t have to write the best book in the world to get published. You just need to write a good book and get it in front of the right person. Build your network, write steadily, take feedback, work on improving your craft and keep submitting your work for opportunities.

Thank you for playing!

A Caravan Like a Canary by Sasha Wasley (Pantera Press) is out now.

A Caravan Like a Canaryby Sasha Wasley

A Caravan Like a Canary

by Sasha Wasley

When Tara Button's mother asks her to drive the bright yellow family caravan from one end of the state to the other, it's her charming but unreliable brother, Zac, who convinces her it's a good idea. Besides, the road trip might keep Zac out of trouble – and that's always been a second job for Tara.

Tara doesn't expect Zac's enigmatic friend Danh to come along for the ride. Or the bikies that seem to be following them up the coast … As they travel along the open road, memories of the Buttons' last trip in the caravan engulf Tara...

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