Interview with Author Lannah Sawers-Diggins

My guest today is Lannah Sawers-Diggins.  Hello, Lannah!  Welcome to Writing in the Modern Age!  It’s such a pleasure to have you here.

Can you tell us a little bit about your book? When did it come out? Where can we get it?
My latest book is Bullseye, which is actually a compilation of some thirty six case histories written and submitted by victims of bullying from around Australia and one from the UK.  It came out a couple of years ago and can be purchased through Amazon as well as a few other sites, I think, but Amazon is the main one.  It is not edited.  Acting on advice from our lawyer, I was unable to touch it.  So all stories were reproduced as closely as possible to the originals written and submitted by their authors, all of whom have been, or are currently, victims of bullying.  Due to the lack of editing it does mean that some stories do, perhaps, present somewhat more of a challenge to read, than others.   

Is there anything that prompted your latest book ? Something that inspired you?

Absolutely.  I am a past victim of bullying and the original intention of the book was as a therapeutic outlet for my own memories and nightmare.  But in the end, I had to leave my own story out, again acting on legal advice.  I was unable to include mine but all the others are in there.  I was bullied very badly at a school in South Australia.  My nightmare lasted for six years – and as it was in a boarding school back in the 1960s, we only had three terms and I suffered 24/7, so there was no escape.  I did call out for help twice – once to a staff member, only to be rebuked with:  ‘You need to learn to get along with the other girls’.  Seemed I wasn’t doing that?  My single cry of help to my parents was completely ignored.  

I'm sorry to hear that, Lannah.  I am glad that you have found a way to speak out about the issue.

When did you know you wanted to write?  Or has it always been a pastime of yours?
Actually I think it has always been a pastime of mine.  I grew up in virtual isolation – I was raised on a sheep station in the outback of South Australia and really had no true playmates out there (primary school was conducted through the amazing School of the Air – which is now known as Distance Education, or something similar, I believe) so turned to writing and drawing.  I used to draw a huge amount – my mother would order huge rolls of white butcher’s paper for me and I would draw all day, every day, given the chance.  Have no idea where those drawings ended up – probably thrown away.  These days they could all be recycled.  But then I decided I wanted some penfriends, so – somehow – still cannot remember exactly how – found about a dozen people to correspond with around Australia – and a couple overseas I seem to remember.  But that wore thin after a while, even though I still do enjoy writing to penfriends these days – but then I decided to try my hand at short stories.  But, I found I don’t have the imagination nor creativity for that – nor the patience.  Non-fiction for me but I didn’t actually put it into action for many years.  
So, in all honesty – yes, I have always loved writing and I think I have always wanted to have books published.  But then old question always reared its ugly head – how do you have books published?  Seriously, how do you have books published?  Well, I guess I ended up being sort of forced into finding out when my father passed away having literally just completed writing the text for his book – but it hadn’t been published.  For the following seventeen or so years, the text and piles of accompanying documents and photos passed backward and forward between his four children, my three elder brothers and me.  Until finally, one morning (it was actually birthday) I woke and realised that if I didn’t act, it would never see the light of day.  Mum was nearing her late 80s and I had a feeling that she wouldn’t be around much longer so it was now or never.  I Googled madly and eventually got the book published and out there – exactly one week after Mum passed on!  I could not believe it.  But I am also reassured that she knew something was about to happen and that made her a happy woman – well, as happy as anyone can be when facing the end of life as we know it!  Once that book was released and ‘out there’, I began working on Bullseye.  That is now also out there and I am currently working on two more.  
Do you have any favorite authors?
Yes, I do.  I used to love Danielle Steel and Agatha Christie, Jackie Collins and a few authors like that.  More recently however, I have taken a real liking to good old Australian authors, particularly ones who write about the country – the outback – or – anything to do with my homeland, I guess.  Some of my more recent favourites include Rachael Treasure, Nicole Alexander, Melissa Wray, Karen Tyrrell, Mary Groves and Loretta Hill.  Another ‘old’ favourite is the late Sara Henderson.  I do occasionally pick up a book by someone I’ve never heard of and enjoy that too.  But the above are my definite favourites.  
Do you write in a specific place?  Time of day? 

Ohhhh yes.  I have my study.  It has a bed in it so I can sleep there when my husband is snoring too loudly – or if I am not feeling well.  The bed is actually for my eldest daughter who lives and works up in Broome.  I could not live without my study.  My laptop sits on an old ‘L’ shaped sewing table.  I had grand visions of being a famous clothes designer many years ago and had to learn to make clothes before I could pass the actual designing stage.  I am now a qualified clothes designer but lost interest as soon as I passed! I write at any time of day really.  Just when it suits me.  And sometimes it just doesn’t. I have interviews to issue to others, interviews to answer for others, articles to write for the magazines which I submit to and of course my two books – but there are times when I just cannot think.  But normally, I just get up and do something completely unrelated and then inspiration hits – usually when I am nowhere near my laptop and do not have a pen and paper, nor even my mobile, handy!

I hear you.  That's why I started carrying a small journal around wherever I go.

Are there any words you'd like to impart to fellow writers?  Any advice? 

NEVER GIVE UP.  Follow your heart and just keep writing – IF that is what you really want to do.    

Here is the blurb for Bullseye.

Bullseye is a compilation of some thirty six case histories written and submitted by victims of bullying from around Australia and one from the UK.  As the book's introduction mentions, all stories had to be reproduced as closely as possible to the originals submitted by their authors and this does, perhaps, present somewhat more of a challenge to read some than it is for others.  All stories are fact and some are quite horrendous.  The original intention of the book was as a therapeutic outlet for the instigator's own experience - however, legally she was unable to include her own story so she is currently writing her's as a work of fiction instead.  For those whose experiences are included in Bullseye, however, most have mentioned how therapeutic it was to be able to sit and 'pour it all out.

Thank you for visiting us today, Lannah.  I hope other victims of bullying can glean some kind of comfort from reading Bullseye.

Author Bio

My name is Lannah Sawers-Diggins.  I am a 57 year young wife and mum from Australia.  I originate from a sheep station in the outback of South Australia but married a Western Australian and have lived in Perth for most of my adult life.  My primary education was provided by School of the Air, which I believe makes me a bit ‘different’ and ‘unique’.  I have two daughters, work full time and am absolutely passionate about life – about everything that I do.  I am an author in my own right and am now a columnist for one publication and submit regularly to several others.  I am also a very strong, stubborn, determined and probably extremely painful advocate in the fight against bullying.

But in short – life is GREAT.  The sky really is the limit.


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