Author Kate Holden says she was initially surprised at the range of demographics who enjoyed her autobiographical stories of drug addiction and prostitution.
"I was a relatable character; I'm a middle-class girl, so I don't fit the usual stereotype," she said.
"So a lot of middle-class families read my book, and they could see their own family members in that story.
"It hit a chord somehow, but I had an amazingly wide readership. I had 14-year-old boys and little old ladies, and everyone in between."
Illawarra resident Holden's book, In My Skin: A memoir, documenting her years as a heroin addict and prostitute in Melbourne, was first published in 2005.
It has sold more than 80,000 copies.
A follow-up, The Romantic: Italian Nights and Days was published in 2010.
The South Coast Writers Centre will present The Way In: Starting and Shaping A Memoir with Kate Holden workshop on Saturday, February 6 at 10am to 2.30pm at Coledale Community Hall.
Holden will take participants through the stages of writing a memoir, through the shaping and structuring of the work, and issues of ethics and responsibilities.
She said some people who sought her guidance were writing for themselves - "I think some people just want to get things off their chest" - and their families.
Conversely, there were others who wanted to publish and share their story with a wider audience.
She said among the keys to a great memoir was writing with candour and "emotional truth".
"At workshops like this one, I often get a whole lot of people coming who are in the first stages of writing a memoir," she said.
"They get started, and then they realise just how complicated it is, and how many different issues there are, especially when writing about other people.
"I cover issues about respect for other people, privacy, and conscience - how to write a memoir without being really grandstanding about yourself, or telling a heroic story at someone else's expense."
Holden said another important part of the workshop was discussing the legal implications associated with publishing a personal story.
"I talk very seriously about all the legalities, which can scare the sh-- out of everyone," she laughed.
Holden and her partner, former Australian of the Year Tim Flannery moved to Thirroul last year.
As a full-time professional writer, Holden has published features, reviews, essays and more, including frequent contributions to the Australian Book Review.
She has been teaching creative writing to students since 2011 at institutions including RMIT.
For bookings, visit TryBooking.
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