By Sharni Hastings
After having her first book published at the start of the year, Tash Turgoose is on the road to success.
The 25-year-old Honours student is busy completing her studies while promoting her first piece, an illustrated book titled Makeshift Galaxy. She’s also inspiring other young writers to follow their dreams by speaking at conventions and workshops up and down the Coast. Alongside writing her second and third books, of course.
“For my Honours I’m creating something that’s been in my head for so long… it’s a crossover between an illustrated book, a documentary, a memoir and a travel journal – like a mashup of a bunch of genres. I hope to create a lot more illustrated books, but I also want to get into novel writing. I also have a fantasy trilogy that’s been bubbling away inside my brain for ages, and there’s a World War II book in there as well,” Miss Turgoose said.
The books, publishing deals and conventions might seem glamorous, but her journey has involved a lot of hard work and dedication.
“You have to work really hard if you want something. I know that’s such a cliché, but what people see of what you’ve been doing – the finished product – it’s just the tip of the iceberg,” Miss Turgoose said.
And Tash would know. The young writer caused irreparable damage to her wrist when creating the images for Makeshift Galaxy, making numerous trips to doctors and specialists for treatment, but credits the injury for helping her meet the publishing deadline.
“I hurt my wrist from working on the book for so many hours a day, the doctors still don’t know what’s wrong with it… but that kind of pushed me to finish everything faster and get it submitted before my hand stopped working altogether,” Miss Turgoose said.
She’s also dealt with some back injuries and pain, but insists the reward is worth it.
As a child, Tash was always writing or drawing something, and credits her artistic parents for their influence and support of her talents.
“I created my first book, titled Rabbit, that was about my rabbit called Rabbit when I was about three or four. I’ve always been writing or drawing, and I think that very much came from my genes, as my mum is really good at writing, and my dad is incredible at drawing. I think I lucked out on the gene front, and I also think I lucked out with my parents, as they have those creative instincts and they really saw the value in letting me explore being a writer,” Miss Turgoose said.
And for Tash, the inspiration behind her big break came inside a lecture theatre at the University of the Sunshine Coast.
“The class was called Creative Writing for the Illustrated Book, and at first I thought it was going to be picture books for kids. I just walked in with the most negative mindset and within five minutes I knew it was the greatest thing that had ever happened. I’ve always drawn, always written, and I only really saw the writing as the thing I could use professionally, but to know there was something that merged the two was amazing,” Miss Turgoose said.
Within a matter of minutes, Tash was enthralled by the concept of creating an illustrated book, and even references a quote from renowned Sunshine Coast writer Gary Crew as her main source of creative inspiration.
“I pretty much remember the exact quote Gary said – we were talking about how you can be a lot more sparse with your text in an illustrated book, because the images will make up the difference. The unique thing about an illustrated book is that the person reading it will take their own thing from it because it’s all about creating the third narrative between the pictures and the text. Gary said to not worry about doing something that nobody else has done before, and just to do it our own way, because nobody has ever done it our way, and then he started talking about how we all have different perspectives,” Miss Turgoose said.
It was this mention of differing perspectives that led Tash to write ‘broken moon and letterbox floorboard’ on a post-it note, and Makeshift Galaxy was born.
“I’m obsessed with World War II and I’ve got a huge interest in the Holocaust and Jewish people in World War II and so when he said perspective I immediately thought ‘underneath the floorboards’ and that’s how it happened,” Miss Turgoose said.
Eight days after Tash submitted a proposal to Odyssey books, she signed a contract and began preparing Makeshift Galaxy for publication. For someone so talented, one would think that Tash spent her life gaining praise from those around her, but really the opposite is the truth. Many of her teachers failed to see the opportunities available for writers and illustrators and warned Tash against pursuing a creative career.
“I had a lot of teachers telling me that writing and drawing wasn’t a real career path, but obviously now it’s all happening,” Miss Turgoose said.
Tash’s advice for aspiring writers? Never give up.
“Something that people forget about writing and illustrating is that as much as it is some instinct that you are born with, they’re both a skill, and so if you keep working and working on it, you’ll get to the point you want to be at. Just do it, just keep doing it, and start submitting stuff – if sounds like the silliest advice, but you’ve just got to start. Oh, and also – if you’re good at something, don’t do it for free – that’s important,” Miss Turgoose said.