Magdalena Ball

Photo of Author Magdalena Ball.

Author Magdalena Ball is Managing Editor of Compulsive Reader.

She has been widely published in literary journals, and is the author of several published books of poetry and fiction, including, most recently Unreliable Narratives (Girls on Key Press, 2019).

Author Magdalena Ball’s Book List:

  • Unreliable Narratives (poetry chapbook, Girls on Key Press, 2019)
  • High Wire Step (poetry, Flying Island books, 2018)
  • Unmaking Atoms (poetry, Ginninderra Press, 2017)
  • Sublime Planet (poetry chapbook/collaboration, 2013)
  • Black Cow (Fiction, 2012)
  • Repulsion Thrust (Poetry, 2012)
  • Deeper Into the Pond (poetry chapbook/collaboration, 2011)
  • Imagining the Future (poetry chapbook/collaboration, 2010)
  • Blooming Red (poetry chapbook/collaboration, 2009)
  • Cherished Pulse (poetry chapbook/collaboration, 2009)
  • Sleep Before Evening (Fiction, 2008)
  • Quark Soup (poetry chapbook, Picaro Press, 2006)

In the Words of Author Magdalena Ball

Professional background:

I’ve been working in R&D for 29 years in a range of semantic related roles, but I did my undergrad and post doc in English Literature and was definitely on the road to becoming a uni professor (Oxford U convinced me otherwise…). 

I then found I had an aptitude for business and did a Masters in Business and studied Marketing and have been working in a business role (day job) for many years.  I get a lot of science and inspiration from that work.

Favourite aspect of being an author:

Author Magdalena Ball full flight, reading poetry.
This is me, full flight, reading a poem – poetry face and all –
take no prisoners
(plus cheekbones on point).

Writing is absolutely fulfilling and necessary to me.  I can play with all those inchoate, painful, and sometimes wonderful feelings we all have and craft them into something coherent. 

Favourite holiday destination:

I went to NYC (where I grew up) Sept/Oct 2018 and it was an absolute joy. 

I’m not sure it’s my ‘favourite’ – I don’t go on holiday often enough to have developed a favourite, or any kind of survey, but it was wonderful in so many ways to see family, go to theatre (I saw 8 broadway musicals), hang out with my daughter, and be a tourist in the city I always loved after a long break. 

I’m also rather partial to New Zealand – it’s just so beautiful (and then there’s Jacinta…).

Hobbies:

Reading! (of course), and I like to think of writing as a hobby, but perhaps that’s an understatement considering how much time I put into it. 

I really like bushwalking, alone or with family.

Favourite movie:

I’ve never been good with picking favourites.  There are a lot of movies I like and probably the best is yet to come.  But maybe 2001: A Space Odyssey? 

I recently saw Arrival and loved it and continue to refer to it. 

Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life? 

Clockwork Orange (been a long time though and sometimes I’ll hold something as a ‘favourite’ and then change my mind dramatically when I come back to it). 

Favourite book:

I’m worse with books than films, but I do often say Ulysses because it’s a book I can continue to dip into for inspiration, and it is one that I continue to enjoy and re-read again and again.  My copy is very old and yellow and missing the cover but I still love it.

Favourite TV show:

I don’t watch a lot of TV (got to do my reading and writing sometime!) but I loved the UK TV series Life on Mars with John Simm, who was amazing in the role.

And speaking of Simm, I’ll also say Doctor Who, particularly the recent Peter Capaldi series.  I think the episode ‘Heaven Sent’ is one of the best I’ve seen on television.  It’s literally just Peter on his own doing a monologue on an exceptional set, but it’s so good.

Favourite way to spend a Sunday evening:

Reading, relaxing in front of the fire, taking a break to walk in the woods, and then reading again. 

Favourite quote:

That’s so hard to choose.  But I do love this snippet of a poem by the wonderful Jane Kenyon so much that I tend to carry it around with me in my head and refer to it when I need to:

What hurt me so terribly 

all my life until this moment? 

How I love the small, swiftly 

beating heart of the bird 

singing in the great maples; 

its bright, unequivocal eye.

Having it Out with Melancholy

The best thing a reader has ever said to you: 

There’s nothing quite like an attentive reviewer.  I’ve been so moved by readers who just get what I’m trying to do as a writer – you feel so connected. 

I’ve been lucky to have some incredibly attentive readers whose reviews are pieces of great writing in themselves. 

I’m thinking of Ruhama Veltfort on Unmaking Atoms:

‘Words fail me. These are some of the most incredible poems I’ve ever read…they capture the deep fragments of dreams, the incredible complication of close relationships, reflected in the complexity and beauty (and terror) of the natural world’…

Or Jessica Bell on Sleep Before Evening:

‘But what I am in love with here is not only the story, it is the WAY in which it is written: with utter musical and poetic genius. A blend of story-telling and musical prose is what I want to achieve in my own writing. I guess that’s why I love this book so much. It represents how I strive to be. My only hope is that my books are half as brilliant as this. If so, then I’m a happy camper’…

It’s enough to keep me writing!

The worst thing a reader has ever said to you:

I had two very negative (brief) reviews on Amazon, which were specifically critical of my use of curse words in Black Cow – in both instances very early on since neither reviewers actually read the full book.  I’ll just quote one – ‘The “F” bomb was dropped about half dozen times just in the first chapter, even by the kids…….thats when I deleted.’  Of course it’s a story about family disfunction – they ‘deleted’ in the first chapter – but that’s Amazon for you – you have to take the good with the bad.

What drives you to write:

I don’t really feel myself if I haven’t written something creative each day – whether it’s working on fiction, a poem, an extended review or a critical piece. 

It’s like my mental exercise and at this stage in my life, I treat it as a practice – it’s part of how I live in the world. 

I find inspiration everywhere!  I’m very lucky to live in a beautiful part of the world – rural, full of beautiful flora and fauna and if I get stuck, I literally go outside and sit in the bush on a rock and breath in and words tend to come. 

I also get ‘inspired’ by what disturbs or moves me – the thought of losing such beauty, the intensity of motherhood, of relationships, conversations (with me or overheard), current affairs from politics to events.  Really anything. 

I also read NewScientist, ostensibly for the day job, but I get pretty inspired by good science writing and breakthroughs in the world of science. 

I’m a magpie, and there isn’t too much that I won’t pick at.

Your take on the self-published books industry:

We live in a noisy world now and the bar to publishing a book is quite low – you don’t have to invest a lot of money to get a book on the market, which is great in many ways because it has meant that the big publishers are no longer all powerful and books that may be wonderful but not necessarily market driven, can still find a niche and get out there.

To that extent I think it’s wonderful. 

I also like the whole print on demand model which levels the playing field a little (not entirely because a big promotional budget can still sway attention!) with smaller houses. 

But I do feel that, because the bar is so low, curation (like the sort Hawkeye Books provides here) is critical. 

Writing a book and publishing a book are two very different skill sets and there are a lot of skills associated with publishing a book that should be treated with respect. You don’t want to be putting a poorly designed or edited book on the market, and unfortunately that does happen quite frequently. 

So personally, I think small publishers with high quality standards, or services that assist authors (as long as they aren’t vanities!) are essential and cannot be undervalued.

Best way to contact Author Magdalena Ball:

I’m always up for a yarn! They can always email me at maggieball@compulsivereader.com.

I think that the best way to get to know me better is to drop by my website for lots of info and samples on my writing and what I’m working on now, recent publications, news, etc, or Compulsive Reader for reviews and giveaways each month.

You can find Magdalena’s books Sleep Before Evening, and Black Cow in our BOOKSTORE.


Browse with confidence. Indies curated by Hawkeye!

Carolyn Martinez

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