1. How did your interest in writing originate?
I started writing when I was about eight or nine years old. I loved to read and was encouraged by my Oma and a wonderful Canadian exchange teacher, Mrs Grant. My first stories were about killer whales and Michael Jackson.
2. Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Any new projects in the works that you can tell Bizymoms readers about?I seem to be working on a million things at once. I edit Bookseller+Publisher magazine, which is Australia's book trade magazine. I write for the blog (http://blogs.crikey.com.au/literaryminded), plus freelance articles, interviews and reviews. What I love to work on though, is fiction. I was recently published in a journal called "The Lifted Brow," a story called Obsolescence - a dark modern fable set in Norway. I'm working on a couple of long-ish short stories; one about an alcoholic, and another, slightly odd, unrequited love story. The theme that runs through many of them is consumerism - the way it shapes and constructs desire, the anxieties created by consumerist society. In March, I'll also start my doctorate for which I'm researching and writing a novel.
3. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about his or her work?
You know, it keeps changing. I love Australian authors Gail Jones, Alex Miller, Peter Goldsworthy, Steven Amsterdam, Tom Cho, Cate Kennedy - so many. I also love Michael Cunningham and other contemporary American writers. There are toooo many classic writers to name; Albert Camus, Kafka, Nabokov, Richard Yates, Chekhov, Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf. Most are realist writers, but something about the reflective strangeness in Camus' or Kafka's writing - the existentialism, I guess, really gets me and has been a major influence. I like writing, too, that gives me 'just enough,' like Yates's work does; through characters' gestures, dialogue, snippits of background - things like a character giving a look, tearing up a letter, removing cockroaches from their shower stall. So it's telling, without, well, telling... That said, Woolf, or even Gail Jones, are a lot more descriptive, but not in a boring, overbearing way, but in a gorgeous, intellectual way, they create images and aid internal exploration. Someone like Alex Miller strikes a lovely balance between unencumbered prose and moments of insightful description.
4. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Kafka or Camus. They made me view the world in an entirely different way.
5. What advice do you have for a young person thinking about a career in writing?
Read. Read a lot. Read everything. And don't talk about writing unless you're really doing it. Even then, a lot of people write. Don't think you have a 'right' to be published or seen more than anyone else. Find your voice. Keep at it. Keep reading.
6. Tell us a more about how you see the process of writing short fiction. What sort of relationship would you want to build with your readers?
My process begins with an idea, an image, a concept, a character that gets stuck in my brain. I let it brew for a while and eventually something else will come along that will slot into place with the original idea. Most stories are almost complete in my mind before I sit down to write a draft. I'll write a whole draft in one go, uninterrupted. Then I go back and work on it again and again, often with feedback from trusted sources. I want to give a reader insight, mostly, into a character or situation. I want to move them. I want them to feel something and think about it later. I want them to be entertained, too, but affected, moved, even stunned, more.
7. What do you need to be a good writer? Do you think Creative Writing courses create good authors, especially in Australia?
Empathy. Insight. A degree of passion, and courage too. Those can't really be taught. But what can be taught is how to see your mistakes, how to refine. And you can be taught to read a lot, to analyse, to look closer. I think creative writing courses might encourage and help those who already have something there, but I'm not sure they 'create' good authors. I studied Film and Literature (not Creative Writing) and my PhD will be research-based too.