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Born in Brisbane, I started my working life as a dentist. After 15 years of drilling and filling I discovered there was more to life, and put pen to paper. Now I drill by day and write by night.
When not doing either of those things I like spending time with my husband and two little dogs, fishing and camping, motorbike riding, traveling, drinking wine on my deck and eating chocolate. Last year I ran my first half marathon and took up paddle boarding.
I have lived in a myriad of places: Melbourne, Perth, England, Rockhampton, Roxby Downs, Sydney, Cairns and am now situated on the New South Wales Central Coast.
connect with Donna here: www.donnajoyusher.com
Tara Babcock awakes the morning after her 30th birthday with a hangover that could kill an elephant - and the knowledge she is still no closer to achieving closure on her marriage breakup. Things go from bad to worse when she discovers that, not only is her ex-husband engaged to her cousin - Tash, the woman he left her for - but that Jake is also running for Lord Mayor of Sydney. Desperate to leave the destructive relationship behind and with nothing to lose, she decides- with encouragement from her three best friends - to follow the dubious advice from a magazine article, Closure in Seven Easy Steps. The Seven Steps to Closure follows Tara on her sometimes disastrous- always hilarious - path to achieve the seemingly impossible. A credible and amazingly touching debut novel from Donna Joy Usher, this is a solid, light-hearted and honest read with plenty of laughs.
The Seven Steps to Closure Excerpt
'Tara, there's something you need to see.' Elaine started digging around in her handbag, moving Benny to one side.
Uh oh. That sounded ominous. I wondered what it was. A photo of my ass in the skirt I had worn the night before?
She finally emerged triumphantly with the Sydney Morning Herald and handed it to me, open at the social pages.
I glanced down with trepidation. Yep, there they were, Jake, with my cousin Tash - she looked gorgeous as usual. Just once I'd like to see a photo of her that wasn't great. Maybe one where they'd caught her at the wrong angle and she had big bags under her eyes or a huge zit on the end of her nose. I stared closer, noting how perfectly straight her nose was - remembering the day she fell off her horse and broke it - and wondering how much it cost to have it fixed. In my mind I superimposed myself into the photo, taking her place by Jake’s side.
The visual swap didn't quite work. To start with, she is a size eight; I am a twelve, maybe a fourteen on a bad day - it really depends where I shop. (All right, all right, so on occasion I've had to buy size sixteen pants. I put it down to the fact that most clothes these days are made in China. Everybody knows Chinese women are tiny.) She wears all clothes like a catwalk model; I look best in long pants and tank tops. She has blonde hair; mine is dark. She is petite; I’m tall. She has perfect creamy skin; mine is olive, with a few annoying freckles on my nose. She is naturally skinny; if I don’t exercise I morph into a blimp.
Not once did Jake ever make it to the social pages when he was out with me, but Tash - who is the same age as me - has been making them since she was a little girl. While I was still an awkward, gangly, 15 year old, she was attending the races, the opera, gallery openings and even the occasional ball.
My Mum's sister - Jackie - had done very well in the marriage stakes, snaffling up one of Sydney's most desirable bachelors. I love my Uncle Edward. He's a lovely and generous man. It didn't change the fact that for our twelfth birthday’s I got a cabbage patch doll, while Natasha got a pony. For our 18th’s I got a silver locket, while Tash sported a diamond tennis bracelet. And for our 21st’s, I got a silver cutlery set while Tash got a BMW sports car. I tried not to be jealous, I really did. I mean it wasn't like I even wanted a pony. (I wouldn't have minded the BMW.)
When we were kids we had fun playing together. But once we hit puberty she became a real prima donna and a bit of a bitch, always putting me down and assuming airs over me. I guess we were just maintaining the friendship more for our mothers’ sake than our own. Shame. If I hadn't bothered, maybe I'd still have my husband.
Hmmm – good first question. I would have to say that anything can inspire my writing. I will see something or dream something and bam, I have the idea for a new character or even whole book. If I am seeking inspiration though, I go for a long walk on the beach and let my mind roam free. What I am looking for nearly always finds me there.
Q. What is your favorite thing about being an author?
I just love it when I am deep in a scene, with the words tumbling out of me so fast I can hardly keep up with them, and then my characters do something or say something that even I didn’t know they were going to. Sometimes it’s more like I’m reading the story than creating it and I find that to be an amazing process.
Q. What is the toughest part of being an author?
I have days when it’s incredibly hard to get the words to flow and I look back at my afternoon’s work and cringe at the awkwardness of the sentences. I’ve learnt the important thing is to keep ploughing on; to get those words down, otherwise I’ll never get to the end. I often have to remind myself that the first draft is allowed to be awful – that’s what the editing process is for.
Q. If you could not be author, what would you do/be?
I love writing, but unfortunately it doesn’t pay the bills – yet. So when I’m not writing I work as a dentist, a job I really enjoy. If I couldn’t be a dentist, I’d like to have been a vet. I love animals and am hoping one day to spend my spare time helping to rehabilitate animals that have been subjected to cruelty.
Q. What would the story of your life be entitled?
Hmmm – I have learnt most of the things I know by making mistakes. So, sadly, I would have to call it 101 Mistakes I Made - Even Though My Father Warned Me Not To. It would be a comedy with a poignant twist, and a bit of a love story.
Q. What is your favorite part of Christmastime?
Opening the presents. Just kidding, I really love the lead up to Christmas. There’s an unperceivable shift in the air: people start to get more relaxed, happier – hell they start to get downright merry and I love the buzz it creates. There’s an energy present that’s missing throughout the rest of the year – a mix of love and joy and hope, and I like to soak up as much of the energy as I can to get me through the rest of the year.
Q. What is your favorite book of all time?
I would love to say something impressive and grandiose like War and Peace – but that would be an outrageous lie. Sadly, I have to admit, that it’s Twilight: well probably Breaking Dawn to be precise. It’s my go-to book when I want to read something I know I’ll enjoy. Kind of like a comforter.
Q. Can you tell me a little about the inspiration behind your book cover(s)?
I really wanted a cartoon woman on the cover partly because I felt that Tara’s klutzy, fun character lent itself to it, but also because I couldn't imagine choosing a photo of a model and saying, ‘There, that’s Tara.’
It took me days and days of pouring over pictures to finally find the right one; but as soon as I saw it, I knew it was perfect. The symbolism of Tara, trying to do up an over-stuffed suitcase, was the perfect analogy of her trying to find closure in her life. I did a rough design myself and then was lucky enough to find Derek Murphy from bookcovers.creativindie.com to finish it for me. He did an awesome job and I just love it.
Q. Which part of your book(s) was the easiest to write?
Probably the ending; I had visualised it so many times by the time I got to write it, that it just flew out of me and onto the page. It was so satisfying to get to that last sentence and to know that I had done it. I had managed to weave all my storylines together into a cohesive whole and create a story I was proud of.
Q. Which part of your book(s) was the hardest to write?
Some of my filler scenes, especially when Tara is in India, were hard to write. And that was exactly how they sounded; slow and boring. I put them in because I felt they needed to be there, but then in the editing process I cut them back out, and the story flowed much better. I learnt a lot from that.
Q. Which character from any book are you most like?
I wish it were a character like Tolkien’s Arwen, (the Elven maiden in love with Aragorn), someone noble, wise and strong. But sadly, I would have to say, that my character Tara, is probably the most like me. Just like her I can be klutzy and awkward, and I often stumble through life. But also like her I have a great family and an awesome set of friends and with the help of them I normally get there in the end.
Q. What is your favorite season?
Surf, sand, swimming and sweating while sipping pina colodas in the sun – all those S’s can only mean one thing. Summer – bring it on.
Q. Tell me something funny that happened while on a book tour or while promoting your book(s).
I’ve really only started promoting The Seven Steps to Closure during the last few months so unfortunately I haven’t got any rip-roaring stories like me tripping and knocking over an entire book display, (it could happen), or turning up on time for a book signing, only to discover I was at the wrong book store, (sadly, also possible.) I think the funniest thing for me is the thought of my Dad, showing his undying support by chugging his way through his first ever chicklit novel, and then – God bless his little cotton socks – recommending it to all his friends.
Q. Are you working on something new?
I’m in the process of writing Book 2 in the War Faery Series – a young adult fiction, urban fantasy trilogy. I am pleased to say though, that I have also started a new chicklit book called Cocoa and Chanel, about Chanel Smith, a female more interested in fashion than felony, who accidently joins the police force. This will be the next book I publish as I want to finish the whole War Faery Trilogy and edit it all together.
Q. Anything you want to say to followers of this blog or those that are just stopping by?
I’d like to say a big hello, and thanks for dropping by to check me out. I’d also like to suggest that if they‘re looking for a fun, roller-coaster of a chicklit novel with plenty of laughs, that they might enjoy reading The Seven Steps to Closure. And to all those that have bought it, make sure you send your receipt to Samantha@ChickLitPlus.com for five chances in a draw to win a $25 amazon card. There’s two to be won.
Buy the book!!!!