When the going gets tough, the tough get laughing. At least, that is Anna Daniels’ philosophy, and it has yet to let her down.

Anna Daniels is a comedic storyteller who has also done stints in radio and TV production and reporting, and was involved in a now infamously disastrous Russell Crowe interview which later snagged her the ABC’s Comedy Segment of the Year Award with colleague Michelle Crowther.

Daniels, who has relocated to Paddington and regularly haunts West End’s Avid Reader Bookshop and the State Library, has recently released her first book, a romantic comedy. Girl In Between is a novel about when you are, well, in-between. The girl in question is Lucy Crighton, who finds herself at a crossroads of relationship, careers and cities, moving back in with her parents and trying to navigate life with her best friend, Rosie. It is a book steeped in Queensland flavour — expect references to the Origin rivalry — but one ringing with universal experiences.

“I was 32 when I started it, and I wrote it because I was hearing all the same hopes, concerns and dreams from my circle of friends,” Anna said. “It captures that time when you’re at a crossroads and you’re on a journey to figure things out.”

Anna’s own life reads a bit like a romantic comedy if the love affair in question is between her and writing. After successful turns as a reporter and producer for television and radio in Darwin, Rockhampton, and The Project in Melbourne, she, much like Lucy, found herself back in Rockhampton. There, she dived into her debut novel. “I’ve been a voracious reader since I was a little girl when I held dreams of being a writer,” she said. “I started writing stories at age five. It always comes back to the written word for me.”

And then the dream went into a drawer and Girl In Between may have been forgotten about if Anna had not stumbled upon the Vogel Award in 2015, one of Australia’s leading awards for an unpublished manuscript.

She entered on a whim, and a few months later, got the call all young writers hope for: her book had been shortlisted. Almost exactly one year after that award brought her into contact with her publisher, Anna saw it on shelves.

That is the kind of fairytale conclusion that any good romantic comedy delivers, and she next hopes it will hit the small screen as a TV rom-com. But Anna’s secret to success is not one that can only be found in books: love what you do, and love doing it. “I knew if I was cracking myself up and having fun, if I’m enjoying it, then that’s a good sign that someone else will,” she said.

And for all aspiring writers: do not let drafts wither in drawers. “Enter competitions,” said Anna. “The only reason I’m now published nationally is because I entered the Vogel Award. You don’t know what will happen.”

Girl In Between is out nationally now with Allen & Unwin and is available in all good bookstores and online.

 

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