Eliza Henry Jones is one of my favourite Australian authors – so prolific, so talented! She opened up her flower farm to a bunch of writers last weekend, and I drove away well-fed, with a bunch of beautiful flowers and several exercises to boost my writing. I interviewed her a few years ago about her novel Ache here.
Eliza talked with us about her own writing journey, her four books (two adult fiction, two young adult fiction) and her tips and tricks for developing characters, understanding the difference between plot and structure and persisting when writing becomes challenging.
One of her exercises involved a tour of her farm in the Yarra Valley, with an invitation to collect something that caught our eye – perhaps a flower, a stick, a stone.
After meeting Ferdy the duck and looking at the laden avocado and lemon trees and the sprawling sweet peas, we headed back into the barn to write about our object. My leaf sparked a poem for my current verse novel, set during Autumn and Winter last year.
Our afternoon tea was delicious – muffins, cookies, brownies! – and at the end of the retreat we were invited to gather flowers from the buckets lining the back wall of the barn to create our own bouquet to take home!
I have been to many writing retreats and workshops but I’ve never gone home with flowers before! Nor have I done a writing exercise which involved cliches and a Shetland pony!