WA author Gemma Walker-Smith

Gemma Walker-Smith is a part of the wealth of literary talent flourishing in WA. With great perspicacity and entrepreneurship, she has made her books a phenomenal success in the highly competitive world of self-publishing.

Saving Wishes, the first novel in her Wishes series, gained the accolade of "best breakout book in the iBooks best of 2013", Apple's independently published books category. Although her stories have the necessary commercial appeal for conventional publishers, Walker-Smith believes that she chose the right course for herself in self-publishing.

"I never considered going down the traditional route, mainly because I'm impatient," she admits. "Once I decided I was ready to publish, I wanted it done straight away. The beauty of self- publishing is that you're in control of the whole process."

With an infinite market of potential readers worldwide, the prolific Walker- Smith was able to showcase her gifted story-telling skills as a first-time author, bringing out her subsequent books at a breakneck pace that suited both her and her readers. Saving Wishes, Second Hearts and Storm shells were all published in 2013, within months of each other. Secret North was published in April this year; a novella, Silver Dawn, comes out next week and book five of the Wishes series is slated for release this December.

Walker-Smith's ability to provide an addictive read and her generosity in enabling Saving Wishes to be downloaded free have worked wonders for the success of the series. Though she is, by her own admission, motivated first and foremost by her compulsive need to write. "It was never my goal to get rich. I just wanted people to read my work."

With no previous experience of publishing, her instinctive love for writing brought her into a completely new world.

"I really went into it blindly," she says. "I knew nothing of the process and no one in the industry. The whole thing has been a massive learning curve for me, and I'm still learning every day."

Nevertheless, Walker-Smith still managed to avoid the pitfalls with which self-publishing is fraught. With her sharp eye for detail, she carefully scrutinised every aspect of her work from the very beginning.

"You can only put your work out there for the world to see once and it was very important to me that I made it as polished as I could. I worked with a fantastic designer who saw my vision and created beautiful covers for me. I also had the good fortune of securing a great editor. It's really a partnership now. I return to both of them every time I have something new.

"I've always liked to write but confidence was an issue for me. I started writing seriously just after my third son was born, in 2005. I had a few late nights and a bit of time on my hands. It was like a secret hobby that no one knew about and I still love writing at night when everyone's asleep. It's the most peaceful and productive time of day for me."

Her only regret is not to have begun the process sooner. "Saving Wishes was hidden away on my computer for four years before I worked up the courage to let anyone read it. Now that it's out there, I'm kicking myself that I wasted so much time worrying about it."

Saving Wishes has been described as "the story of a girl who doesn't quite fit the life she's living and the boy who helps her realise why" while the whole Wishes series is a joyful triumph of love and the fulfilment of dreams in a world that is painfully real yet full of magic.

Hero and heroine Adam and Charli charm with their absolute love. Their respective lives are beset by complications and upheavals but their mutual certainty that they were always meant for each other never wavers.

"It was important to me that I create a strong female lead," Walker-Smith says. "I'm tired of reading stories where the girl falls in love and gives up everything for a boy. I like to think that my books are more of a tale of staying true to yourself. Charli never forgot her dreams and ultimately followed through."

Set in a coastal village in Tasmania, Walker-Smith's books are also a showcase for the Apple Isle's beauty.

"My mum grew up in Tasmania," she says. "She's not with us any more but I treasure the stories she told me about growing up there. We still have family in Launceston and my son is a boarder at Launceston Grammar School. I have a huge soft spot for Tassie and try to visit as often as I can. It's one of my favourite places on earth."

Married with three sons "and an egotistical French bulldog", Walker-Smith has had a peripatetic life and her second novel, Second Hearts, draws upon her experiences of Africa.

"I'm a career traveller. My husband works in West Africa so we're fortunate enough to see a bit of the world quite regularly. I love anywhere new. The world is huge and full of amazing places but there's still nowhere like home."

The West Australian

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