Author name: Frank Prem
Genre: Free Verse Poetry/Memoir
Books: Devil In The Wind (2019); Small Town Kid (2018)
What’s your story and how did you become a writer? I’ve been a prolific free verse poet for over 40 years now. Mainly keeping my work low key and developing skills and a kind of back catalogue of completed work. I’ve started to draw on that work now as I move in to presenting myself to the public in book form.
My professional career has been as a Psychiatric Nurse, which I’ve also been doing for 40 odd years, now. In that role, I have spanned the days of the old mental asylum, which I grew up with in my town, through student nursing for three years and a range of clinical experiences at different facilities around my state (Victoria, Australia). My current plan is to have a third memoir style collection of poems focusing on my experience of psychiatry in book form by the end of 2019, or early in 2020.
I started writing way back, when I was in high school. I discovered then that my teacher was so impressed that a student had attempted poetry that I was given credit even though my essay submission was a few hundred words short of requirements. I figured there was something very ‘right’ about that, and I’ve been a poet ever since.
How do you balance your work with other demands? I’m not entirely sure that I do achieve balance in this respect. In my professional career I was always charging at my next objective as though NOW was the only possible moment in universal history to achieve it.
I am like that with my writing as well. I chase my fads with a singlemindedness that leaves other routine or mundane considerations behind.
It’s not necessarily a great trait to have and I need to constantly remind myself (or have others do it for me) to give attention to the other important things in my life that aren’t the passion of the moment.
Name one of the happiest moments in your life: There are a few big moments across a life such as I’ve had, but the memory that comes to mind is from about 15 years ago. At the time I was courting a lady considerably younger than myself and had all the doubts that you might expect an old-ster (as I saw myself) having.
The memory is of the lady in question – a talented singer/songwriter – turning up to one of our earliest get togethers bearing a cassette tape, on which she had taped herself playing and singing a song that she’d created from one of my poems.
That was a very big moment.
What’s your approach to writing? Are you a “pantser” or a planner? I am a ‘pantser,’ in every respect.
Why plan, when you can write? Why trouble to create a story arc and plot, when the next thing you write is the next thing in the sequence?
Creatively delightful, but tricky as I’ve had to transmogrify myself from simple writer into author, editor, publisher and self-publicist.
Can or could you write in a café with people around? Yes I can.
The likelihood is that the people in the café will become the subjects that I write about.
In all seriousness, I find I can tune out most distractions when I have something to write, and on occasion, at least, the atmosphere in a busy café is positively stimulating.
Have you ever written dialogue in a second language? If so, how did you do it? I have indeed, and have even had the privilege of being published in another country (that being the USA) with a poem using that ‘voice.’
My family was originally from Croatia in what was then Yugoslavia. I grew up with the Croatian language all around me and for a period in my writing evolution I wrote in pidgin language that is half Australian English and half Croatian.
This may sound a little arty-odd, but when I’m writing I have made it my practice to allow the idea I’m pursuing or the image I am contemplating to find its own voice and tell its own story. My job is to steer it so that it remains coherent and meaningful for a reader. In the case of the Croatian voice, I had enough familiarity with the idiom and vernacular and with the way this particular migrant population was likely to think to be able to shape poems in a reasonably accurate representation.
Quite a task, and not always successful, but completely unique when it worked.
What’s your favorite book and what are you reading now? For a favorite book, I draw on my ‘go to’ library here at home, which includes Tolkien, Le Guin, Robin Hobb, and Mathew Reilly, to name a few.
I’m currently re-reading a Mather Reilly book – Ice Station, but I’d probably have to nominate Tolkien and Lord of the Rings as my favorite because of the inspiration and pleasure they have given me over the journey.
What’s your favorite way to read a book: hardcover, paperback, eReader? Paperback, for me. Hard cover is fine, too, but I really struggle with the electronic book forms. I think it may be because I sweat over the keyboard for as much as 12 hours a day, and the idea of reading for pleasure electronically just doesn’t feel right.
Do you think print books will always be around? I’m a print book guy who is only now discovering electronic forms with any purpose, so I say yes.
If you ask me in a few years’ time, when I’m perhaps scratching a living out an e-book readership, I may give a different response.
Would you ever read a book on your phone? Yes. I do that now, when I need to, and reluctantly. I don’t own an e-reader.
What’s your go-to device? iPhone, Android or something else? I have an Android device. The first I have owned and I fell in love with its picture taking capacities long before I began using it as a phone.
I have begun to make something of an art out of writing to the image and letting the image communicate its own story without too much control from myself. The Android device has been quite material in allowing me to develop a new capacity within my writing skillset.
How long could you go without checking your phone? I check it frequently. Not for the phone, but for the email and the social media that I might be working with. Looking for responses to my latest posting of a poem on my blog.
I’ve become a bit of a junkie in that respect.
Do you listen to audiobooks? If you do, what do you do while you’re listening? I have listened to audio books when traveling. Usually something from The Great Course range of educational materials, rather than novels.
I am very interested in perhaps creating my own audio books in future and have done a number of amateur audio recordings and podcasts and radio interviews, all of which are accessible from my Author page on the web.
I enjoy reading to live audiences very much.
Do you like using social media to promote yourself and your book? If so, what’s your favorite platform? The only reason I use Social media is to pursue connections regarding writing and publishing and promotion of my work. It is a critical element in the pursuit of free publicity and promotion of new works.
The tricky bit is how to make contact with an audience that isn’t myself in disguise i.e. another author, pursuing the same goals and objectives that I am (only maybe better and smarter than me).
What I enjoy most is contact with genuine readers who might be curious about what I’ve done, why and how and so on.
That, I enjoy very much.
Awards/special recognition: No Awards for a number of years – I stopped seeking them a long time back. Book reviews at Goodreads are worth a look, though. Try these: Small Town Kid and Devil In The Wind.
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