Combining her love of writing and travelling, Dr Jo Squire of Mobile Vet Services in Cairns, QLD, has published her first novel.
“The two big drivers in life are writing and travel. I’ve always kept a journal where I record my thoughts and observations or write stories. On one occasion, I went to travel around Asia for a year and I promised myself I wasn’t going to write—I was just going to enjoy my surroundings. My first stop was Nepal, and within a week I was wandering around the Nepalese bookshops, looking for writing paper. Writing is an undeniable urge I have.
“I’m a completely mad wildlife conservationist who spent my childhood years in Kenya. At present, humans are all saying, ‘Saving the planet’, but that tends to mean, save it for themselves. We’re wiping out everything else while we’re at it. The plight of African elephants breaks my heart. I have contemplated writing about them for ages. The first chapter of the book that would become Black Ivory was completed 12 years ago at a writing retreat.
“It took a long time to finish more chapters. I was writing all sorts of other stuff—bits here, bits there, vet stories, other stories. I frequently do remote work in the Torres Strait and I did a lot of writing there, stockpiling notes and ideas. At another writing retreat, I shared all my various pieces of writing with the group, and I realised I needed to get focused. That was when my novel really began coming together.
“I’m running a busy and time-consuming mobile vet business, but I worked on the novel in any spare moments I had—on planes, in tents, on dive boats, everywhere. Then once the novel was finished, I went back, self-edited it and had a manuscript assessment done by a professional editor. I’m proud of Black Ivory—it was a very satisfying accomplishment.
“I’m a reader as well as a writer. Sometimes it’s a battle between my two loves because when I’m writing, I’m not reading and vice versa. The time I spent writing my novel means there’s probably 3000 books I haven’t read and I’m sad about that.
“The funny thing about writing is that you don’t do it for the money because very few writers earn a living from it. I guess, as a species, we’re always telling stories in our heads and for people like me, getting those stories down on paper is a compulsion. I can’t imagine going a day without doing some sort of creative writing.”
Dr Jo Squire’s writing blog: josquirewrites.com
Buy Black Ivory: amazon.com.au/dp/B09BGHWFC5