One of my earliest memories is of seeing Armstrong and Aldrin walk on the moon on our grainy black and white television in 1969. While my siblings ran around the yard playing, I spent the whole day lying on my lounge room floor watching my wildest dreams come true – humans walking on another world. I was in awe of the event, and I remember it distinctly. It was the first time in my life that I thought I might like to be anything other than a writer. Although in those days there wasn’t much question that a ‘girl’ would get to do anything exciting with her life, much less become an Astronaut. Not in Brisbane in the Seventies. So time passed and I went back to telling my class-mates that one day they were going to see a book with my name on the cover.
Another ‘peak experience’ in my life was when a Russians in Space exhibit visited our town. The show was in a big tent with all the exhibits behind rope cordons, but I begged, and the man running it let me slip past the barrier when no one else was looking so I could touch one of the sputniks that had orbited Earth. I can’t begin to describe what it felt like to lay my fingers onto that pockmarked surface and know it had been in the vacuum of space – where I wanted to go. I get goose-bumps still, just thinking about it.
My elder brother’s obsession with Science Fiction was another important factor in my development as a writer. Everything he read, I read. Asimov, Heinlein, Herbert, E.E.’Doc’ Smith. When I was thirteen, he started sneaking pornography home and I was ‘borrowing’ that as well, taking it under my mosquito net at night with a torch. Perhaps that’s how I developed a fascination for the psychology of sex – why people become obsessed with the object of their desire and how lust twists lives.
My family life was suburban, middle-class. When I go home to Brisbane now, summer still smells the same way as it did when I was a kid. We had a mountain near us that we used to climb – Peg’s Mountain – which is still a reserve. I went there a lot with my brothers, we’d disappear for the whole day and come back for dinner. I remember Guy Fawkes night vividly and still find fireworks to be a magical thing. When I was eight I was in love with Prince Planet. When I was thirteen I fell hard for Captain James T. Kirk. He was my first big crush and I’ve never quite gotten over him.
In my teens I forgot about writing and started ‘living’ instead. I hung around with my tribe, a group of six girls who still keep in touch. We partied and had opinions – I felt very passionate about politics then. In my twenties I was an activist, first in the peace movement, and then with a big-time commitment to Animal Liberation. I protested outside rodeos with placards like “Real men don’t rope baby calves”, and did a lot of work towards educating people about animal experimentation. I became a vegetarian then and married.
By thirty I’d had children and became passionate about motherhood, however, shortly after the birth of my last child I realized that the restlessness which had begun when my father died years earlier, wasn’t going away. I went back to working part-time but that wasn’t it. The problem was writing. I’d somehow forgotten that I was going to be a writer. I remembered then and I began.
For years I typed every day until I found characters who would tell me their stories, rather than me having to ‘make them up’. Finally that happened, and in 2001 my first full length novel was published by Simon & Schuster. I don’t pretend to understand the alchemy that occurs when people appear fully formed in your mind to tell you about their lives, but I’m very grateful that it happens to me and that I’m able to share it with others. I adore the voyage of discovery that drags me along with my characters to see how a story ends. Each new day finds me in front of the computer doing what I love best, drinking heaps of coffee and creating like a mad thing. Who needs drugs when you can write!
Louise Cusack is an International award-winning author whose best-selling Shadow through Time fantasy trilogy with Simon & Schuster Australia was selected by the Doubleday Book Club as their ‘Editors Choice’. This trilogy was released as eBooks in 2012 by Pan Macmillan, the same year her Hapless Heroes romance series was released. 2016 saw the release of her Husband Series of erotic romance novels, and Louise also writes award-winning erotica under the pseudonym Elizabeta Brooke.
Louise has been a Writer in Residence at the Queensland Writers’ Centre, and has tutored hundreds of writing workshops for Writers Centres, libraries, writing groups and schools in Brisbane, Sydney and regional Queensland. She has traveled to New York to present the Queensland government’s Queensland Writing Showcase to US agents and publishers at the 21 Club, and attended the South Australian Film Commission Crossover think tank in Adelaide. In 2013 Louise worked with interactive media companies Defiant Development and Hoodlum to tell stories in a different media: developing computer games, and that year she was also a Special Interest Speaker on a luxury cruise line.
Louise has been a member of Romance Writers of Australia for over twenty years. She mentors other writers through residencies and her manuscript development business, and lives by the ocean in Queensland where she walks the esplanade and currently writes erotic romance novels. One day she’s determined to use research from her Italy trip to create a lost world adventure rich with the Renaissance detail and romance she adores. But for the moment, she’s immersed in the crazy erotic adventures of a band of wild Aussie women who are determined not to settle for anything less than sexily-ever-after!