Welcome to Alice Greenup, debut author of the memoir, Educating Alice and QLD cattle farmer. I recently met and interviewed Alice at Moree On A Plate, our local food and wine festival. Her memoir joins the burgeoning list of rural non-fiction, a genre which is enjoying new interest on the back of rural fiction. Alice’s story, city girl finds bush love, is made the more interesting by her willingness to be involved in the rural industry, and her subsequent successes; and there is drama in the form of a mustering accident, which tops and tails the narrative. IMG-20130504-00698


* This is your first full-length work Alice and you have certainly given a very honest account of your personal and professional life. How did you decide what to include and what to omit in the work?

I wanted writing to be a part of my life, but hadn’t given myself permission, as there was always a myriad of other jobs to do. The impetus to carve the time out from my life as a mother of three toddlers and beef farmer came from an invitation to tell my story from Harper Collins. That was the beginning, but as you can imagine, there is a lot of soul searching during the process of writing memoir, a lot of ‘why I am doing this?” and then over time “what goes in and what stays out?’ My agent gave me some great advice to put everything in the first draft. This is the exploring phase and it’s all out of the system then. From there in the second draft you start to get a sense of where the story is taking you and you can refine and hone in on parts you want to explore further.

aliceThis is common with memoirs, as you need to turn a lot of soil over to aerate before anything will grow. I spent three years on the manuscript; the first two versions mostly went in bin. After two drafts, I revisited my intention for writing memoir and reflected on what the memoir was saying (not me, the memoir – which begins to take on a life of its own) about the heart of the story and the themes The why then determined what stayed in and what was left on the cutting room floor, so to speak. As well as a story of love and loss, set in an outback landscape, the memoir explored change, fear and love and intuition as major themes. Things that didn’t fit into these themes got put aside and may find a place in future work. When I realised that you don’t have to cover every base in a single work, and there would be future books to explore other archetypal themes, then it became much easier to sort and cull. My ‘why’ for writing is pretty simple; tell a story that will make people reflect on happiness, inspire them to pursue their own purpose, by using their ‘bliss barometer’ and to be aware of how our mind and its voice of fear affects perception, decisions and actions and hopefully take them on an adventure in the process.

When Alice Greenup left Melbourne on the back of a motorbike to explore Australia, she couldn’t tell a cow from a bull. But she had to learn fast after talking her way into a job as a governess on an outback property and falling hard for a jackeroo. Today Alice and her husband, Rick, run one of Australia’s largest seedstock operations, Greenup Eidsvold Station Santa Gertrudis, near Kumbia, Queensland. They have three children.