Anna Daniels made an epic 40-minute interview with Russell Crowe! Yes, you read it right. She interviewed the "Gladiator" star without much preparation and ended up being teased throughout the interview! I came across Anna on Instagram and she was really kind to talk about her encounter with Russell and of course about her new novel, "Girl in Between." which was shortlisted for the2016 Vogel Awards. It has become one of Australia's highest selling debut novels since publication this year.
Read the interview to know more and to hear the hilarious "How Not To Interview Russell Crowe!"
You smartly transformed your interview with Russell Crowe into an opportunity to get "Girl in between" published. How did you get the idea to use it into something beneficial?
Well, I wouldn't say that the Russell Crowe interview helped me get published, but it does always serve to remind me of how you can turn potentially disastrous situations into positive ones! I interviewed Russell in 2003 in Capella, and I was very underprepared for the interview, and subsequently, Russell gave me some good-natured ribbing about how I possibly could be in the wrong profession as a journalist! He was very lovely, and kind to me, but when I listened back to the interview I'd done, there was no doubt that I'd had a shocker! My colleague at ABC Radio, Michelle Crowther, and I then turned my train wreck of an interview into a great piece on 'How Not to Interview Russell Crowe.' It went on to win the ABC's Comedy Segment of the Year Award! So, there was a wonderful silver lining.
Can you tell us about your writing regime? Do you think being a TV presenter impacted your writing style?
I've always wanted to write a funny, Aussie screenplay for a TV series, and I actually started writing Girl in Between as a screenplay. I then changed tact, and developed it as a novel, but it's still very visual with lots of snappy dialogue and when I was writing, I could see it running like a movie in my mind. In terms of my writing regime, well, I don't know if I've had a typical experience of writing a novel! I finished the first draft of Girl in Between in 2014, but at 38,000 words, my first draft was very short. I then forgot about my manuscript until 2015, when I saw that entries were open for The Vogel Awards in Australia. (A major publishing prize for writers aged under 35). I didn't win the Vogel, but was shortlisted, and at the Vogel's party I met a brilliant publisher, Louise Thurtell from Allen & Unwin. Louise read my manuscript and loved it, but said I needed to get it from 38,000 words to around 80,000 words, in six months! I was very daunted by this task, but I signed the contract and had faith that I could / had to do it! I wrote flat out for six months last year, and just finished writing my book in January of this year. It was a very full on challenge, but one that I wouldn't swap for the world.
Name the person who influenced you to get into the comedic storytelling? What are the qualities you admire from a comedian?
I've always loved comedy, and looking at the lighter side of life influences much of what I do. When I was little I used to adore sketch comedy shows in Australia like Full Frontal and The Comedy Company, they were great! I grew up in a big family of 5 kids, and there was always much laughter in our house, and a sense of not taking yourself too seriously. My grandma had a great sense of humour and was always telling jokes. I don't think there was ever one person or comedian that influenced me to get into comic storytelling, it was more so that I just always gravitated toward comedy.
Can you share with us about your experience while working with Anne Edmonds?
Anne is great, and one of the funniest people I know. We met in 2007 in Darwin, when we were both living there, and we immediately clicked. We have a similar sense of humour and Anne just has funny bones. In 2008, we co-created the ABC's first online sketch comedy series, called Tough at the Top, and we had a ball doing this. You should check our Raylene the Racist on Youtube...classic!
What were the obstacles you faced while working for "The Project"?
The Project is an excellent show in Australia and really stands out in that it delivers 'news differently.' I fitted right in at The Project because I had been working as a Journalist producing radio news and current affairs programs, and so I was able to track down great stories and 'talent' for The Project's daily show, whilst also applying my passion for comedy in writing quirky questions and introductions. I started writing and presenting my own funny stories for them, and loved doing that for many years. I left The Project to write a book, which has always been my dearest dream, and I'm thrilled to see the program is still doing really well! Probably an obstacle for me is that I lived too far away from work, and if I were to live in a big city like Melbourne again, I would live closer to where I spent the majority of my day...ie work!
Your best experience while travelling India?
I absolutely loved India! What an amazing place to travel to. I really enjoyed taking photos in India, and still need to get some of them enlarged...the colours and the scenery are just incredible. There are so many experiences I could tell you about there, but highlights included seeing Varanasi; hiring a houseboat with my great friend, Brooke, and floating along the backwaters of Kerala; visiting the Taj Mahal and eating lots of delicious food!
Which is your favourite show among the ones you have produced? Why?
The very first story which I wrote, presented and produced for The Project will always remain one of my favourites, because it was the story which got the ball rolling on my TV presenting, and it was about my hometown of Rockhampton. I still smile to myself when I watch it! It's here if you'd like see it: https://vimeo.com/24902793
I also loved being a Field Producer on the BBC Series, 'John Bishop's Australia.' John and the crew were lovely to work with, and we got to film some incredible places up the east coast of Australia.
How do you stay motivated and keep fuelling your creative mind?
My mind is pretty active and sometimes that's not a great thing! I'm learning that great ideas can come when your mind is relaxed and so I'm doing more things that help facilitate that. I love going to group-fitness classes at the gym and generally getting outdoors. The more you try to force ideas to come, the harder it is, and for me at least, when I take myself out of a situation and go for a walk or a drive or something, that's when I think in other ways. In terms of staying motivated, well, deadlines help! But I think I'll always be someone that loves to create, that will never change.
Some vital tips to people who want to get into the comedy segment/TV presenting.
My best advice is just to start writing and filming yourself presenting stories for the type of show that you would like to end up on. And ask people for advice, on how they got to be where you would like to work. Also, an oldie but a goodie is to look at someone you admire in the industry you're trying to crack, and copy their career moves, and learn from any of their mistakes.
What are your future works?
As mentioned, I originally started writing Girl in Between as a screenplay, and I really hope that my book comes full circle, and is made into an Aussie, comedy-drama TV series. I would love to work on the screenplay with the best in the business, and I have faith this will happen! That's next!
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