Debbie Spillane is On the Bench

Amid the deafening roars of nepotism I welcome my sister Deb Spillane to a special weekend edition of On the Bench. Yes, it is true my sister is not a romance author but she does feature heavily in my other favourite past time – SPORT. For those of you that don’t know, Deb is a sports journalist/commentator and one of the first women to regularly cover male dominated sports in Australia like rugby league and *cough* soccer, to name a few. Being a trail blazer naturally led to a few problems and some interesteing anecdotes for her autobiography Where Do You Think You’re Going Lady?

At this stage in the interview I would like to point out that she is my older sister and can be held totally responsible for my obsession with sport 😉


Debbie Spillane is On the Bench

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Unable to write convincingly about romance and sex Debbie Spillane weaselled her way into sports journalism in 1983. Since then she has worked in radio and television, been a newspaper and magazine columnist, sub-editor and also a media manager in rugby league and basketball. She is currently a host of ABC Radio’s sports program Grandstand.

You may notice that excerpts and blurbs are missing – Considering the book is about sport and Deb, I thought you could live without it this week 😉 I do recommend the book though, there are some hilarious things that have happened to my poor sister over the years. You know locker rooms, sportsmen in towels…need I say more?


Author Interview Questions.

What was the first book you had published?

“Where Do You Think You’re Going, Lady?” (Adventures of a Sports-Mad Redhead)


What was your initial reaction when offered that first contract?

I thought only old people got asked to write autobiographical books!  *D – No Comment!


Of the books you have written is there one that holds a special place in your heart and why?

My sister has set me up for humiliation here because while it took me around five years to write my one and only book, she has churned out half a dozen in a couple of of years.

Are you a disciplined writer or do you have to wait for the muse to arrive? Do you have a ritual that gets you in the mood?

I started off extremely undisciplined. I’d slog away for hours on end, churning out far more material than I needed, boring myself stupid and making it feel like such a chore I’d avoid going back to it for several days. When I’d finally coax myself back to the task at hand, I’d scrub large chunks of what I’d written during the previous session, or do extensive rewrites. When I was midway through the book I had a holiday in the US and, during the trip caught up with an old classmate and Pulitzer Prize winner, Geraldine Brooks.

She gave me the most useful advice I got from anyone. She told me to write in short, focused sessions, setting a limit of 400 words a sitting and walking away while ideas were still flowing. Her warning was that if you kept writing until your ideas dried up or you hit an obstacle or got sick and tired of the whole process, getting motivated to start the next session would be harder.

I tried out her system and it worked a treat.

What was the last book you read?

The Kennedy Brothers. The Rise and Fall of Jack and Bobby by Richard D. Mahoney. I’m just slightly obsessed with American politics.


What are you working on now?


Nursing my ego in the face of my sister’s ridiculously prolific output.

I did just contribute a chapter to a book about Unsung Heroes of Australian sport, being put together by Craig Norenbergs.

What genre would you like to try and write that is different from your own?

A genre that sells!   * D – Lol!


When you receive edits are you Teary and Disillusioned or Feisty and Focussed? 

Can I choose disillusioned and feisty?

What is the one thing in your books you’d like to try?

Um, I tried everything in my only book (unfortunately). It was autobiographical. A stunt double would’ve been handy.



Now for some hard hitters with an Aussie flavour!

A sport /sportsperson that you watch? (C’mon there must be one) OR An embarrassing sporting memory.

I love too many sports to list, but currently my favourite is soccer (sorry Donna!) and my favourite sportsperson is Roger Federer — probably the greatest sports star of my lifetime and an astonishingly graceful man on and off the court.  *D – I am so disappointed in you now words fail me, soccer what’s that about?  😉


Favourite Aussie Author/Actor /Musician?

The 70s rock band Sherbet. My little sister made me take her to see them in concert and I became unexpectedly hooked.

Your view on Vegemite?

Compulsory. It should be smeared on body parts in one of my sister’s books. *D – I obviously haven’t told you about my short story in Edible Delights Anthology 🙂

Formal dinner party or backyard barbeque?

Formal dinner party, as long as someone else is cooking.   *D – Now you tell me after all the family christmas parties I’ve held in my backyard!

Adventure holiday or relaxing by the pool?

Relaxing by the pool, but preferably a big enough pool for me to swim laps in. Is there anything more useless in this world than the small, kidney shaped pool?  *D – with plenty of shade ranga 😉

Favourite Aussie holiday place or one you’ve always wanted to visit?

Manyana.  * D  – Manyana is a small coastal town about three hours drive south of Sydney.

Debbie’s links, if you are wanting to know more about my talented sibling.

ABC Media Page

Where Do You Think You’re Going Lady? Amazon Link      Allen and Unwin

Twitter    Facebook

In case you are wondering, as I have also mentioned my brother in my bio, there will not be any blogs about his publishing feats – who wants to read a doctoral thesis on some sort of mathematics behind black holes or some such trivia 😀

4 thoughts on “Debbie Spillane is On the Bench

  1. Great interview, sisters! I want to know more of what went on in those locker rooms. 😀
    You are an amazingly talented and multifaceted family.
    Thanks for sharing Donna with us Deb and her fans thank you for encouraging her obsession with sport! (and her fellow TEB authors love her)
    H K

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