Jessica Watson made her worldwide debut back in 2010 for being the youngest person to sail solo and unassisted around the world. At just 16 years old the Queensland native completed her circumnavigation and became a worldwide sensation. While still sailing the now 24 year old has been busy completing her studies and has now just recently debuted her first young adult novel, Indigo Blue.
Is there any similarities between you and Alex besides your love of sailing?
Alex is her own character but I can’t deny that there’s a bit of me and many of the people around me in her. Besides her obvious love of sailing I suppose another thing that we share is a belief that fairy tales can be real, but that we’re responsible for creating them.
How long did it take for you to write Indigo Blue?
It wasn’t a quick process! For as long as I can remember I’ve always known that I wanted to write stories. Since the voyage around the world I’ve found myself spending a lot of time telling other people that they should pursue their own dreams so when I had a few quieter weeks during uni holidays back in 2014 I decided I’d better listen to my own advice and make a start. Then once I’d started, and although I was also busy with a lot of other things, I couldn’t stand the idea of not finishing something so it became a matter of working out what I needed to do to finish it. I enrolled myself in writing courses, took on relevant uni subjects, and sortout as many opportunities to write as possible. Taking on assignments with publications like Australian Geographic were fantastic as their editors really pushed me. Then began the process of making it a publishable book with my amazing editors, there were so many ‘oh I get it now’ moments as they showed me where I was going wrong with the stories structure.
What did you find was the hardest part of the writing process?
Getting the first rough draft out on paper was the part that I found most challenging. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the redrafting and restructuring process.
What advice would you give to your 17 year old self?
I certainly wasn’t doing everything right at the time, but I’m not sure that my 17-year-old self would have really benefited from any advice that I could give now. Any of the silly things I did at the time made me who I am now. Perhaps I would tell myself to start being obsessive about sun protection asap!
What inspired you to write Indigo Blue?
I couldn’t understand why the story hadn’t already been written, it seemed obvious to me. And I suppose that I audaciously thought that my love of sailing and adventure would do it justice.
Why did you choose to write a young adult novel specifically?
When I started writing I wasn’t sure exactly what ago I was writing for although I suspected that it would sit about where it does.
Have you always been a big reader?
Absolutely, being dyslexic I got off to a slow start but my amazing Mum and my best friend read to me in the early days and gave me a love for stories. It was books that inspired my around the world voyage and I read a lot during the voyage itself. For a while at uni I found it hard to justify spending time reading novels but now that I’m writing myself I prioritise it and make time.
What’s your all time favourite novel?
There’s so many, how difficult to name just one! But I’m not sure that I can think of a story I love more than Enid Blyton’s The Secret Island.
What are you reading now?
I’m currently listening to Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. My MBA gave me an appetite for books like that.
What are you up to nowadays and how often do you get to sail?
Now that I’ve finished studying I have my weekends back and love heading to down to the local yacht club as much as possible. It’s been amazing to sneak in a bit of twilight sailing over summer. I love sailing more than ever but it’s a hobby for now.