Askey-Doran, author : 3rd February 2005
lying about my age, I got my first job at fourteen
at Radio 4KZ in Innisfail, Queensland, working in
the record library. At fifteen, I began a career as
a chef, and worked in hotel kitchens around the world,
including Ireland, Germany, and Indonesia, for thirteen
years before retiring my knives permanently in Brighton,
England. I then moved to Istanbul, Turkey, exchanged
my blades for quills, and became a freelance journalist
for newspapers and magazines across Europe. It was
a career I fell into and have never looked back. Two
years later, I established my own monthly magazine,
Istanbullshit, and ran a successful publishing business
for three years. These days I reside in North Queensland,
Australia and work as a full-time novelist, preferring
to research and write books. I travel often, and I'm
still looking for a permanent home. Occasionally I
get a stint with a newspaper and sell the odd article
to an international magazine. I'm also a public speaker,
about to launch a tour of Australia raising awareness
and talking about Sexual Abuse, with a focus on reporting
it, achieving justice, and staying sane throughout
the process. I've written two books on the subject
of sexual abuse; Pendulum and Chasing Unicorns, and
will be promoting both novels on The Naked Book Tour.
do you write?
is like oxygen. I can't live without it. When I write
I feel alive, as if my being present on earth has
some meaning, some purpose. I've been writing ever
since I was able to hold a pen. At four, I wrote bedtime
stories to read to my teddy bear. While I wandered
around the world as a chef, I kept journals, wrote
stories about my travels, and kept in touch with my
inner-author. I also write because I feel I have something
to share with the world. It's something that comes
naturally to me, coupled with perpetual inspiration.
My literary skills aren't limited to drama either,
I also write comedy, short stories, and pen the occasional
itself inspires me. My friends joke that they are
afraid to speak in my presence in case their words
end up in a page in one of my books. They're right,
and their words do end up in my books, as well as
their actions, thoughts and feelings and even their
personalities. I'm inspired by everything; a passing
comment, the head of froth on a beer, a leaf falling
from a tree, the smell of the sea, a baby's cry, a
crime against nature. I'm quite passionate about many
things and often feel inspired to write about them.
All five of my books were inspired by events that
took place in my own life.
is it so important that your story is told to the
Abuse is a subject that has long been swept under
the carpet. I think it's time to shake that carpet,
and show the public the real story behind the brief
news stories. Instances of sexual abuse are reported
in the news almost daily. We see and hear about paedophiles
who have been caught and convicted, then sentenced
to a few years in prison, often many years after the
offences took place. We also hear of some predators
who are released without charge, or of those released
from prison and then thrown out of the communities
they settle in. What we don't hear about are their
victims; the survivors of sexual abuse. The general
public knows very little of the ordeal taking place
in real time behind the scenes. Even in this age of
information, sexual abuse still appears to be a taboo
subject. Nobody really wants to talk about it. The
victims, however, are real people, and continue to
struggle through life unacknowledged, and with little
hope of justice. I'm one of those survivors and I
really feel that it's time this story was told. My
own story, though painful, ended in success and sharing
it is important.
the most interesting thing about you?
of me is windswept and interesting. I guess the fact
that I survived a horrific childhood with my sense
of humour firmly in tact makes me an unsual person.
And my perception of fun intrigues a lot of people.
I've roamed all over the world for over two decades,
risked my neck in various life-threatening activities,
almost died countless times, and am still here to
tell the hair-raising tales [in books entitled Phew!
and Aargh!] of my adventures. I'm driven by my passions
and believe in living my dreams; what's the point
of life otherwise?
do you get your strength from?
an interesting question. There are times in my life
I haven't felt strong at all. On more than one occasion,
I've been known to lock my doors, turn off my phones,
climb into bed with a bottle of tequila and a chocolate
cake, and not emerge for several days. For the most
part, though, I look around and see that everyone
has their troubles, big and small. This helps me gain
strength; knowing that I'm not alone on this planet.
I'm also aware that in being strong, I can help others
find their strength too. There is an old saying: "What
doesn't kill you makes you stronger." I've been
through a lot in thirty-nine years, and surviving
it in one piece has made me strong. There are those
who reckon I'm a bit like those old King Gee overalls;
'If she was any tougher, she'd rust,' they sometimes
what you have been through, does anything still scare
don't scare easily, and I often challenge myself to
do things I think might scare me. I get a good adrenaline
rush from doing crazy stuff, and my heart has threatened
to stop from time to time, but I've never done anything
I'd be too frightened to try again. I guess if there
is one thing that does scare me, it's intimacy with
men. Don't get me wrong, I adore men, but they frighten
the hell out of me. They're so... I don't know...
enigmatic. On the other hand, some of my best friends
are men. Guys can be such great pals to have; and
my friends aren't scary at all. When it comes to scary
events, I've experienced some terrible things; had
guns shoved in my face, seen car bombs go off, been
stabbed in a restaurant, was beaten and raped in a
city street, just to name a few, but I don't recall
feeling much fear at the time, just the initial disbelief,
a deep sense of injustice, and then a burning anger.
Fear is something I never think about until the moment
something happens, and then it passes after a fleeting
second and the feeling changes into something else.
I'm not fond of heights, despite some of the things
I've done, and still find the idea of bungy jumping
has been most supportive in your endeavors to date?
a writer, there are countless people who have supported
my work, praised my efforts, egged me on, encouraged
me to keep going despite the growing pile of rejections,
all the while sure that I will one day be successful.
They are too numerous to name individually, but they
know who they are, and they all know that without
them, I might have given up and become a dope dealer
many years ago. Fortunately, they're all still there,
cheering me on, and I'm eternally grateful to them.
a survivor of abuse, 'SUPPORT' was such a problematic
word, with so many different meanings, that my family
were quite confused about it. As a result, I didn't
get much family support as I went through that process.
Had they known a simple hug and a few words of encouragement
were all I needed, I think things would have been
very different. There were other sources of support
though, mostly professional services, some wonderful
counsellors and psychologists, and those people that
helped me find my way through the labyrinthine justice
system were amazing. Now, my family are very supportive
about my efforts to publish my books and tour with
my talk about abuse.
the best compliment you have even been given?
are amazing." It's something that has been said
to me many times since the court case last year. I
haven't got used to hearing it yet, and I still find
it a bit strange that other people would look at me
and say that. I just did what I needed to do, and
don't feel there is anything amazing about it, but
it's nice to be told that people think I've done something
you have a mentor or someone you look up to?
McCullough is someone I deeply admire as a writer.
If I can manage to attain half the success she has
had, I will be pleased with that. The way she uses
words inspires me. Her methodical research into a
vast range of subjects intrigues me, particularly
as I'm a very lazy researcher and prefer to plod along
and do it as I'm writing. Another favourite author
is Amin Malouf. His descriptions leave me breathless,
and ready to pack my bags and travel to wherever he's
writing about. Other people I admire include people
who overcome adversity against all odds. We can learn
something valuable from them.
is success to you?
have this dream of sitting on a city bus one day,
somewhere in the world, and hearing the two people
sitting behind me talking about my latest book.
you read Roni Askey-Doran's last novel yet?"
"Yes, I have. Just finished it a few days ago."
"Really? I haven't read it yet. What did you
"Oh, it's a great read. You'll love it. Would
you like to borrow my copy?"
I'd sit there and smile, knowing I've succeeded as
an author, but probably wouldn't tell them who I was.
Seeing my books on those front shelves in bookshops,
reading positive newspaper reviews, hearing people
talk with enthusiasm about my work, that's success.
can you tell us about your upcoming book tour?
Naked Book Tour is about revealing all; bearing my
soul, and sharing one of the most painful experiences
of my life. I'll be touring with the two novels I've
written; Pendulum - about coming to terms with abuse,
and Chasing Unicorns - about how four women achieve
justice, and telling my own story along the way. My
talk is about growing up as an abused child, the effects
and the aftermath, how I barely survived, and then
went on to report the abuse. I'll be speaking about
how I took on an entire goverment department, forcing
them to change their minds, and the laws, so that
my abuser could be charged and convicted. I hope to
inspire and encourage survivors of abuse to report
it. I'll also be reaching out to partners, parents,
siblings, friends, and workmates of survivors to help
define the various ways in which they can be supportive.
I'm also targeting counsellors, social workers, psychologists,
police, justice department workers, and other government
departments so that they may learn from my experiences
and help smooth the path for the victims and survivors
of abuse. The first leg will take in Queensland, travelling
from Cairns to Brisbane, and west to Mt Isa and Toowoomba,
and then I'll be heading south through New South Wales
to Victoria and hopefully around Tasmania before moving
across to South Australia, Western Australia and finally
to the Northern Territory. Of course, the length of
the tour and the stops I make enroute will depend
does the world perceive you?
often depends on what mood I'm in, and what I'm doing
when people see me. Someone once said, 'She's magnificent
in her fury' and I've also been described as 'driven
to the edge of the precipice, but not quite over the
ledge' and also 'completely nuts but entirely adorable'
so I really think there are myriad ways to perceive
who I am and what I do. Not to be taken simply at
face value, I think many people see me as some kind
of enigma. Realistically, I should not have survived
many of the things I've lived through, and yet here
I am, large as life, driven by my ambition to succeed.
Publishers and editors have said I have a 'wonderful
turn of phrase, an incredible vocabulary, a fresh
and interesting writing style' and the judge that
sentenced my abuser said I was 'impressive'. And,
of course, a few people recently said I was 'amazing'.
have you successfully promoted yourself and your work?
still working on that. I've recently become 'partners
in crime' with Media Man's Greg Tingle to get my name,
my face, and my work out there and noticed by the
people who matter. We plan to blitz the local media
wherever I go and get The Naked Book Tour on television,
radio and in the press. Hopefully, the national media
will also sit up and take some notice of the whirlwind
I plan to become. I'm currently still in the process
of editing material and organising the publishing
of books for the nationwide tour as well as soliciting
support and sponsors from government departments and
also the corporate sector. When I eventually kick
off, it will be in a large noisy cloud of publicity.
did you most enjoy about your journalist endeavors?
a magazine journalist, particularly working as the
Editor-in-Chief of Istanbullshit, I travelled all
over Turkey to explore and discover the country, and
wrote countless stories relating my experiences to
thousands of ex-pat readers. Travel was one of the
best perks of that job. As the cultural editor, I
also received a lot of free tickets to some of the
best music and film festivals, jazz soirees, and rock
concerts on the planet and was constantly invited
to social gatherings to rub elbows with the rich and
famous. So, bottomline, I guess while the hard work
had its benefits, the bonuses were great too. I also
had the opportunity to meet many incredible people,
and learned something valuable from almost everyone
I met during the course of my career as an editor.
will you know when you have accomplished all that
you wish to?
of thousands of women, all over the world, will recognise
my name when they see it or hear it. A fair few men
will probably recognise my moniker too. I'll be able
to think about writing, rather than wonder where my
next meal is coming from, I'll probably have a car
that has insurance, and won't have to choose between
flying to Brisbane for business and buying a few new
clothes; I'll be able to do both. I'll have also helped
someone report their abuse, and encouraged them to
battle on, regardless of how tough it looks on the
the internet assist you in your work, and if so, how?
I could kiss the toes of the person who invented the
internet. I do a lot of research on the net. Much
of the 'little stuff' I need can be found on the net;
clarification of a point, word meanings, thesauruses,
and world news are amongst the many things I look
at online. I also find people and organisations that
can assist me in what I do, or people who could use
my assistance. The information highway is one of the
most interesting roads I've ever been on, but I have
to say I'm not a junkie, and a few hours is enough.
I get braindead and have to come back to the real
world. My primary method of communication is email
and I don't know how I ever traversed the globe without
is it so important to keep a sense of humour, and
is too short to be neck-deep in stress all the time,
and having something to laugh at takes the pressure
off. I find lots of things funny, and tend not to
take myself too seriously most of the time. Even in
the middle of a crisis, there's always something that
will amuse me. Some people don't understand my fairly
dry sense of humour and my casual approach to life,
but I think if you can't laugh, particularly at yourself,
then you are lost. There are so many different types
of humour, and I think I have a touch of all of them
within me. Reading my comedy; Annus Horribilis: Diary
of a Nobody, gives people a good taste of my sense
of humour. I guess it could best be described as:
a large dry-martini served with a maraschino cherry
and a long curly straw.
you true to your star sign?
double Gemini with a Pisces rising is a complex star
sign to have to live up to. Fortunately, I rise to
the occasion by being excessively creative, often
taking on a workload that four people would normally
do in the same time, particularly when I'm writing.
I wrote Chasing Unicorns in 28 days. I wear many caps,
being a businesswoman and a writer, as well as being
a public speaker and a typically fun chick, and have
been known to wear all four caps simultaneously. The
influence of Pisces keeps me calm and focused while
my rampant twins are galivanting around getting up
to all kinds of shenanigans that are likely to cause
me trouble. I'm very lucky that they have the gift
of the gab and are able to talk their way out of -
or into - just about anything. I'm versatile and quick-witted,
and aware that my role is to convey knowledge wherever
I go. I'm also easily distracted, but I like to put
on a good show. My Pisces is a little pedantic and
is into perfection, occasionally becoming very fussy
about details when the pressure is on. Overall, myselves
get along reasonably well together and there is little
inner-conflict. In fact, I consider us all a very
nice bunch of girls.
else should we know about you?
if you've read this far, you might be feeling quite
alarmed at the thought of running across someone like
me. In reality, I'm quite casual, easy-going, very
flexible and easy to talk to, and I never bitten anyone
who didn't really deserve it.
the court case, several magazines, newspapers, radio
and television stations have discovered that they
can't use my real name while interviewing me or writing
articles about my story without tackling some complicated
legal issues. I've also been finding it difficult
to use my own name when submitting articles for publication.
To solve this problem and smooth the road for my public
speaking career, I've created an alter-ego called
Ruby Lee Smithers who is available to talk to anyone,
anywhere, anytime, about her (my) experiences of sexual
abuse, reporting it and going through the justice
mill. By fortunate chance, Ruby is also a character
in one of my books and will be easily recognised by
all those who read Chasing Unicorns.
note: That's what I call someone making a difference.
Askey-Doran official website
Naked Book Tour