Jessica Leed’s experiences as an aspiring dancer in Bendigo have provided inspiration for her first novel.
After starting to write as a therapeutic outlet, Leed’s debut novel Nine Years took almost four years to write.
“Everything I encountered led me to (writing) the book. It’s my own story in fiction,” she said.
“I did school in Bendigo and moved to Melbourne to pursue a career in dance. Then I had an injury that stopped me taking (dance) further and I went into school teaching.
“From the transition from career in dancing, writing was an outlet. I have always loved writing as a way to express myself.
“When I was in years 7 and 8 I used to write short stories and was at the library every Saturday.”
Bendigo inspires the town of Aringdale in Leed’s book which follows a character named Sienna returning to her home town after years away.
“It talks about her dance journey but she is struggling with work, she is in a toxic personal relationship and everything she has dreamed about is falling to pieces,” Leed said.
“So she goes back home to watch the local dance competitions she was involved in and is greeted warmly even though she has had nothing to do with it for a long time.
“When she encounters an old friend, she realises how much she has lost in self identity and self worth.”
During her time in Melbourne, Leed has stayed in touch with her Bendigo roots by teaching at Bendigo South East College’s Academy of Creative Arts and travelling back to visit family most weekends.
“I’m Bendigo born and bred, it will always stay with me,” Leed said.
Since releasing Nine Years, Leed has sold more than 1000 copies of her eBook. But it was a difficult path to publishing.
“I haven’t gone down the traditional path – it is very difficult,” Leed said. “So I self published and did a lot of research and courses online to help get myself up and going.
“I have had lots of support as well. (Author) Tess Woods has been in contact and encouraged me through social media with bits and pieces I have been writing.
“(Author) Karen Kingsbury has been a big inspiration to me and I did an online creative writing course with her through Liberty University on.
“That was something I wanted to do and have that exposure to writing before embarking on it seriously.”
For more information on Jessica Leed and her debut novel Nine Years visit www.jessleed.com
Chris Pedler – Bendigo Advertiser