When RWR (Rob) McDonald was writing his award-winning debut novel The Nancys, he was working full time in a high-stress job, studying a master’s degree, and was also a dad to two young girls.
Around the time he got a literary agent, he decided to take a step down, career-wise, into a lower-stress role. Which seemed like a great decision for his health and sanity.
But then he ended up with shingles, and a serious chest infection.
Rob is an award-winning author, a Kiwi and Queer dad living in Melbourne with his two daughters and one HarryCat. His debut novel, The Nancys, won Best First Novel in the 2020 Ngaio Marsh Awards, and was a finalist in the Best Novel category. It was shortlisted for Best First Novel in the 2020 Ned Kelly Awards, and Highly Commended for an Unpublished Manuscript in the 2017 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards. Nancy Business is his second novel.
(And you might remember Rob from the fantastic job he did launching How to Be Australian!)
In episode 32 of James and Ashley Stay at Home, Rob discusses how pushing himself through parenting, study, high-stress work and creative ambitions was the likely trigger for ongoing health issues.
But, as he reveals, he’s now stepped back from high-stress work and is writing full time.
We also talk about using Nancy Drew as his inspiration for The Nancys, a series very much for adults, and writing his newest novel, Nancy Business.
We get into grief, post-traumatic stress disorder, and my favourite fictional character, Devon (no last name, it’s like Cher).
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Books and authors discussed in this episode:
– Harold Robbins (contact Rob for title recommendations);
– The Nancy Drew series by Carolyn Keene;
– Girl, 11 by Amy Suiter Clarke;
– The Silent Listener by Lyn Yeowart;
– Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake;
– Goat Mountain by David Vann (who we interviewed in episode 23)