Women Who Write - Sheryl McCorry

By Sandra Todorov Sheryl McCorry has been described as ‘a woman in a million’. The grandmother from Forrest Downs, whose bestselling memoir Diamonds and Dust took everybody by surprise in 2007, is back with Love on Forrest Downs, a story of her battle to keep her new outback home.

Fans of McCorry will love this – it is a celebration of country life, the land Sheryl was born into and the struggles and triumphs that can strain a rural couple but ultimately (in this case at least) push them closer together. There is a strong sense of place – McCorry’s love of Forrest Downs shines through, just as her affection for the Kimberley did in her first books. Locals will recognize the unforgiving landscape and the spirit of the inhabitants.

Simply written and beautifully paced, Love on Forrest Downs will find a keen readership among both country dwellers and curious urban folk. I managed to get Sheryl to take time out from her busy schedule (she is famous for having run two million-acre cattle properties and now has a brood of grandchildren) to answer a few questions about her writing life.

How many words do you write per day? Do you listen to the radio or music while you do it? When I sit down to write I try and do around 3000 a day. I don’t play any radio or music, I just drift.

Describe your workspace. I sit and write by hand at an old desk, beside a huge bay window. Outside the window are lots of ferns and native plants with a bird house. I can also look out and see the paddocks in the distance.

What is the best thing about being a writer? I don’t see myself as a writer or an author, it just happened for me quite unexpectedly. I was putting my thoughts about my life on paper for my children and it’s just happened from there. I consider myself very lucky since my first book Diamonds and Dust.

What’s the worst things about being a writer? It’s hard to say, because I love it. I’m at a point in my life where we are flat out farming, and it’s just trying to find the time to grab those few hours. So I guess wanting more hours in the day.

How did you get your first book deal? After I lost my husband to cancer, I was diagnosed with cancer myself. Our children were in a panic, and asking lots of questions. I had always kept diaries, but I decided to collate and put everything on paper for the children. Once I got I  paid an editor to fix it up, and make it a bit more presentable.. He told me I wouldn’t be able to get it published, but right then I decided I might not  be a university graduate but I would give it a go. I  sent half of the first book to two different publishers and then went on holidays. Within eight days had a contract with Pan Macmillan!

How important is it for writers to be part of a network of creative people? My life is based with cattle and I suppose they are creative! I don’t mix in those circles in my life.

Sandra Todorov’s writing has appeared in The Seminal, The Lowy Institute ‘Interpreter’, Kill Your Darlings and Miranda Literary Magazine. She runs a consultancy from Melbourne CBD and her first novel will be out in 2013.