Gillian Wills

Gillian Wills

Q&A with Author Gillian Wills

What inspired you to be a writer?

My grandfather Frederick A Wills wrote many books. He also had a weekly column in the Newcastle Times which was published under the pseudonym The Vagabond. He loved nature and wildlife and used to walk through the wilds of Northumberland charting wildflowers and observing animals. He earned the Vagabond title because he camped out under the stars with nothing but a rolled-up oil sheet, blanket and tin utensils. The Rambles of Vagabond was his most popular book. He became a local legend in the North of England and there were Vagabond coach tours where tourists were taken to hear him talk about the landscape, local wildlife and his adventures. My father Frederick Scott Wills was a poet and a Fleet Street journalist who always wanted to write a book but never did. As I inherited an enthusiasm for writing, I decided I would publish one in honour of him. My memoir Elvis and Me: how a world-weary musician and a broken racehorse rescued each other, Finch was released in Australia, New Zealand, America, Canada and the UK in 2016.

What prompted you to write 'Big Music'?

I wrote Big Music because the music world is rewarding, exciting, challenging and complex and I’m well aware of the intriguing dynamics that exist in music schools and the industry in general.

I’ve met many colourful, brilliant characters over the years including performers, conductors and composers and I made a pact with myself to one day write a story about what goes on behind the scenes in making music.

All people have to do is turn on a radio, go to youtube, watch TV or stream an event online and music is instantly available but, the truth is very different. It takes years and years of dedication and sacrifice to become a performer and hours of arduous rehearsal to present a concert.

Do you have any more books in the pipeline?

Yes. A book set in the bush, with musical and animal themes. I’m also working on a collection of short stories.

What is your professional background?  

I studied classical piano performance and classical guitar at The Royal Academy of Music (London) All my life I have worked in the arts industry as a teacher, lecturer, professor, manager, broadcaster, presenter, pre-concert speaker and journalist.

Any advice you’d like to give aspiring writers?

Be persistent. Keep learning. Read read read. Go to book launches and other literary events. Believe in yourself. Write something everyday even if it’s only a paragraph. Let others read your work and give you feedback.

Who/what inspires you?

Reading good books by gifted authors including Peggy Frew, Susan Johnson, Krissy Kneen, Kristina Olsson, Sally Piper, Karen Viggers, Anna Funder and twentieth and twenty-first century Australian, British and American authors. 

Triumph over adversity stories about determined battlers inspire me.


What are your hobbies, interests and favourite books?

I like to read, play the piano, garden, hang out with my horses, dogs and ducks, entertain, travel, walk and attend arts events; exhibitions, concerts, plays, festivals and musicals. 

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