Winchester Books

Winchester is the old capital of England, and it is a very sweet village. It is home to the oldest public school in England as well as the largest gothic cathedral. Strict building codes mean that the architecture is very traditional throughout the village. 

The villages surrounding Winchester love to link their histories to Jane Austen. When I visited South Hampton, I found a plaque dedicated to the pub in which Austen celebrated her 18th birthday. However, Austen’s final home is located in Winchester. It is owned privately and is not open for viewing, but I was able to visit the tomb of Jane Austen in the Winchester Cathedral.

The beautiful, clear River Itchen flows through the village. The romantic poet John Keats walked along the banks of the River Itchen during his stay in Winchester from August to October in 1819. He composed “To Autumn" about his time there.

The bookstore P&G Wells is located down a quiet road, between the 600 year old Winchester College and Jane Austen’s home. It supplies school books to the primary and secondary schools in the area, which is an excellent position for a bookstore. 

It has beautiful stained glass windows and a wood interior. There were several people chatting and buying books while I was visiting.

image

image


Another in the village was the very cute Kingsgate Books and Prints. As the name suggests, the store was located in the remains of the original stone wall. As well as selling new and second hand books, it also sells work by local artists. 

image

Book Review: We Are Not The Same Anymore by Chris Somerville

Debut Review is a monthly column that I write for the Emerging Writers’ Festival, looking at the debut books by Australian writers.

image

Somerville really shows off the strengths of the short story form in his debut book, We Are Not The Same Anymore. The stories reflect on loneliness, loss and longing in a quiet and intelligent way. The humour is gentle and embedded in the moments when the reader experiences familiarity with the characters situation.

The characters seem to inhabit the same world, and it is conceivable that they might cross paths during their stories. Each of the characters is dealing with something in a private manner but seem to be on the edge of breakdown. Often they have been let down by a family member, drifted away from a romantic relationship, or been abandoned.

The stories are self-contained windows into people’s lives, but together they form a cohesive whole. To propel the reader through the stories, they accelerate in urgency and slowly detach from reality. It seems to follow the trajectory of someone on the verge of collapse.

The first stories are sweet and tense. In Earthquake, we meet an eccentric father who is bewildered by cargo pants and names his dog Michael.  Snow on the Mountain brings a 35-year-old woman and her younger neighbour together on a car trip to collect firewood. There is suddenly a real risk of exposure when the woman sprains her ankle and she unable to walk very far in the snow. Even more devastatingly, she is at risk of exposure when she moves to hold her companion’s hand but is quietly rejected.

The later stories begin to feel more surreal. The quiet melancholy is punctuated by vivid and sometimes violent images. A man’s reflection in a television screen starts to have a mind of its own, a son wordlessly keys his father’s car and a woman imagines biting down through her wine glass. The final story is called Drowning Man in which onlookers watch a man drown and a classroom full of children is swept away in a flood.

Somerville is versatile in his ability to create narrators. They range in age group and gender, but always feel familiar and natural. He is able to express the vulnerability of the characters as they attempt to navigate everyday life. Their inability to cope with these ordinary situations is often internalised and potentially dangerous. I would love to see Somerville further explore these themes and style in the future.

Chris Somerville was born in Launceston, Tasmania in 1984 and now lives in Queensland. In 2003 he won the State Library of Queensland Young Writers Awards and in 2009 he was shortlisted for the Queensland Premiers Literary Awards, Emerging Author category. His short fiction has appeared in numerous literary journals, includingVoiceworks, The Lifted Brow, Paper Radio, Islet and Stilts. He has taught in the creative writing programs at both Griffith University and the University of Queensland.

(Image source)

Book Review: An Elegant Young Man by Luke Carman

Debut Review is a monthly column on the Emerging Writers’ Festival blog by me, looking at debut books by Australian writers.

image

At the EWF Writers Conference this year, Luke Carman read an excerpt of An Elegant Young Man as part of his Sweatshop performance. Afterwards, everyone wanted to know who that crazy speed reader was. All of the readers were exceptionally good, and Carman had a particularly strong voice. He reads in a distinctive voice at a frantic pace. The words rush past you and you have to feel the atmosphere and aesthetics of the story rather than try and analyse the details. Throughout the performance, the audience would frequently laugh in surprise when they realise, a beat too late, what Carman had just said. As soon as they understood what he had said, he was already half way through the next sentence.

Later in the day, Carman was on a panel called What We Talk About When We Talk About Voice. Although his earlier performance was startlingly good, he said ‘I got into this writing thing because I don’t like speaking.’ He believes that his writing is the full realisation of his work, but the reading is part of it. He said ‘The performance is a version of it, but there is supposed to be more work on the page.’ Luke says that a strong voice comes from writing, and it comes from a writing about a strong character. At Sweatshop, he says they talk about coming to voice as a revolutionary act. He jokes that the reason he reads so fast is because he wants to get off the stage.

The performance enhanced the reading experience. I was seduced into reading the book at the same speed at which Carman performed it, which was pretty exhausting. It caused me to savour the book over the course of a few days, reading it in bursts on the tram.

The book is semi-autobiographical, and is written in first person as Luke Carman. The chapters form little vignettes and play out as a series of short stories.  You get a distinct sense of atmosphere as the main character negotiates his way through the western suburbs of Sydney. He is a quiet, thoughtful young man who sometimes just wants to stay home and read Whitman and Kerouac. He refers to Dylan Thomas by first name and hangs out with his imaginary friend, Tom. The rest of the time, he is surrounded by the simmering violence of Liverpool. As a narrator, our hero is very sensitive to the dynamics surrounding him. He analyses the people around him with a sort of detachment, which allows the reader to insert the familiar cultural imagery.

Carman carves out a very distinctive personality for Western Sydney. While the protagonist is at home in the west, he ventures to other places. At one point, he finds himself in the inner city and surrounded by yuppies and later, he ventures to the outback with his girlfriend. This allows the reader to make a comparison between the three Australian landscapes from the point of view of the same character.

This is a brilliant introduction of Western Sydney to the literary culture of Australia. It builds an image of a place which is familiar but new, presenting the characters with a restless energy and an intensely strong voice.

Watch the Sweatshop performance at the Writers Conference 2013 here.

Watch the trailer for An Elegant Young Man here.

Luke Carman self-identifies as an anti-folk monologist working in epi-grammatical short fiction. He hails from the Sydney suburb of Liverpool and his work has haunted the journals HEAT, Westside and Cultural Studies Review.

Interview: Boatfriends on songwriting, 80′s nostalgia and epic ninja fight scenes

image

How do you bring a song from conception to realisation? Do you work collaboratively or solo?

Shanna and I have a pretty cool songwriting process in which she shall show (or email) me a riff or 2, or some other kind of basic skeletal idea and I’ll then spend a bazillion hours on piecing a song out of it. I like to think this of this process as the Mr Squiggle technique :P I’ll then send the song back to her for lyrics and critique etc. Followed by more to-ing and fro-ing.

How do the words and music interact in your songwriting?

The lyrical side of Boatfriends is predominantly Shanna’s domain. There’s generally a nice melding of the lyrical content and the music’s “vibe”. It’s exciting, however, to have my own vague idea of a lyrical idea or theme but then to receive something completely different from Shanna that’s thematically and melodically much better than my idea.

What skills should emerging songwriters try and develop?

The discipline to get out of bed at 4am and somehow record the melody you’ve woken up with from that dream where it’s the “best song in the world”. I failed to do that just the other week and it took me a few days to live it down.

What inspires you to create songs? Do you have particular songwriters or books that inspire you creatively?

With Boatfriends in particular, I often try to “summon” some of the earliest memories I possibly can and try to somehow translate that into sound. Perhaps that’s a kind of cliche thing to do as a musician but it’s a nice way to reconnect those neural pathways and remember things you may have otherwise forgot. That’s my excuse for my part in the whole 80′s nostalgia trip that’s been so popular in the last few years anyway.

As far as songwriters or books, I honestly and quite shamefully have barely immersed myself into anything new and inspiring and I 100% blame HBO. I guess my new songs are inevitably going feature a whole lot of references to meth labs and gang warfare.

Do you refresh your songwriting by traveling or do you find staying in one place gives you more stability?

Oh how I would love to be able to afford to travel, even just a drive down to Torquay for the day, but alas, I’m a struggling artist and sometimes I can’t even top up my myki. :/ So, yeah, I guess I stay in one place.

What are you working on writing at the moment?

I feel as though I’ve already spent so much of the past 8 years in a creative mindset and lifestyle and that I’ve accumulated so much work that now is just time to realise that work and get it out to the world. So unfortunately there’s very little writing going on of late, however in saying that, I just spent this morning working on beats for a track from the forthcoming The Book Of Ships album, which I play bass and write the odd beat for.

Read the rest on the EWF blog

Book Review: What Was Left by Eleanor Limprecht

Debut Review is a monthly column on the Emerging Writers’ Festival blog by me, looking at debut books by Australian writers.

image

Rachel was not prepared for this version of motherhood. Her mothers’ group is a space where mothers can only talk about the positive experiences of motherhood. They constantly proclaim the harms of feeding your baby formula, and the other mothers seem to hold each other to impossibly high standards. The competitive nature of the other mothers intimidates and alienates Rachel. She also feels like she cannot talk to her husband about the mounting pressure and increasing feeling of suffocation. On top of this, she is in constant physical pain caused by a broken tail bone during childbirth. All of these experiences are frightening for Rachel, but nothing compares to the fact that she feels as though she cannot control the violent, intrusive thoughts about her baby girl, Lola.

Feeling trapped, Rachel abruptly leaves her baby and husband to visit India and then seek her estranged father in Germany. Adding to her feelings of being an inadequate mother, she must now deal with the fact that she has just abandoned her baby. The deserting mother is treated as one of society’s greatest moral degenerates, and Rachel struggles with this perceived burden. Rachel simultaneously needs Lola in her life, but is stifled by her. Although she is aware that she is viewed as a villain by many people, there are other people who understand that she is sick and needs help to get better. The novel skilfully deals with the complex relationship a parent can have with their own identity and with their child.

In India, Rachel meets a young man called Eli in a hostel. He says he can help her find what she’s looking for, and steers Rachel towards Germany. Although he is a supporting character, he has a strong personality and serves an important role in the development of Rachel’s character. He provides Rachel with the opportunity to make some very important decisions about her life. The main plot is interwoven with the story of Rachel’s parents, Judy and Gunther. Judy was a strong and intelligent mother who worked towards her PhD while Gunther stayed at home to look after Rachel. Devastatingly, when Rachel was six years old, Gunther left the country and did not return. The two stories mirror each other in many ways, and build a picture of family legacy and individuality. As Rachel learns more about her parents, she unravels a story of secrets and white lies. Here, an interesting dynamic is added to the novel.

The novel looks at the consequences of telling the truth, and trying to develop your identity in the context of family legacy. This is an impressive first novel, dealing with very serious issues of mental health, family and identity. The few characters are all complex and flawed and convincingly human. The novel is written with understanding and empathy for the difficulties of parenthood. Limprecht works towards humanising mothers who struggle with the pressure of bringing a new life into the world while hanging on to their own identity.

Eleanor Limprecht is enrolled in a Doctorate of Creative Arts in Writing at UTS, Sydney. She is in the process of completing her second novel, a work of historical fiction inspired by the story of a woman who was charged with manslaughter in 1909 and convicted to serve three years at the Long Bay Women’s Reformatory.

EWF Hobart Roadshow Interviews - Susie Greenhill

image

I spoke to Tasmanian writer Susie Greenhill ahead of the Emerging Writers’ Festival Hobart Roadshow.

What skills do you think emerging writers should try to develop?

I think if you love what you do the most fundamental skills are intuitive – read, write – though it’s possible to forget to do both sometimes, and become pre-occupied with the  idea of just ‘being’ a writer. As well as a source of inspiration, reading for me is about being part of a kind of vast, nebulous conversation. And while there’s no reason to let it restrict or even guide you, it’s helpful to understand the context you’re writing in when you’re creating work which you want to be read, particularly if there’s any kind of political edge to your writing.

The skill I most struggle with is the ability to write freely in stolen moments and less-than-perfect places – trying to conjure the muse in the rare minutes when my little daughter lets go of my leg. I think that writerly ideal of being locked in an attic with a notebook and an unbroken expanse of time is very rare. Even the most successful writers often need to fit their art around the demands of a career, a family, relationships, study – demands which tend to grow rather than dissipate. So developing the discipline to write when you just don’t feel like writing is pretty important. Sometimes (often) it’s hopeless, but you can occasionally be surprised.

Also, be brave and try to tell the stories that need to be told, go to the places you least want to go.

Where was your favourite place growing up?

My parents’ yacht, Moonbird. A 27 ft Eventide smelling of turps and varnish. On the water there was endless time to read – in the cabin by the light of a fish handled lamp, or in a hammock strung between mast and bow. We loved her, and she took us to indescribably beautiful places. I can still remember sitting in the dinghy clinging to her rails on the night she was sold.

Do you refresh your writing by travelling or do you find staying in one place gives you more stability?

I’ve always been quite restless. I’ve lived overseas and interstate and find movement and change do inspire stories, but in a sense they tend to be other people’s stories. For the past few years we’ve travelled very little. We have a small house by the sea and I do think there’s something incomparable about staying still – knowing a place intimately – that can be incredibly valuable to a writer. All those details and that experiential knowledge, accumulated over time, which encourages a kind of fidelity to place and which no amount of research can replicate.

There’s also something about the simplicity of stillness. Not long ago I attended a workshop by Cate Kennedy and she spoke about that desire of new writers’ to write everything – to tell everything you know in one desperately over-crowded story. I think the intensely stimulating experience of travel tends to have that effect on me, and on my writing. But I’ll still always do it, given the chance.

What is happening in the Tasmanian literary scene at the moment?

I had my first short stories published in the month my daughter was born, and we live in quite a remote part of the island, so I’ve only really been on the periphery of the literary community here. There seem to be a handful of enthusiastic and generous emerging writers and editors who are trying to re-invigorate the scene here at present, and bridge some of the gaps that have developed over time, and I look forward to being a part of that.

Can you tell us a bit about your work which was published in the Review of Australian Fiction Volume 7: Issue2?

My most recent short story, ‘This Butterfly,’ was published by RAF as part of the Tasmanian edition, put together by Rachel Edwards. It’s about two young teenagers living in a London squat, and the kinds of hope and refuge they find in the old London Butterfly House.  It was paired with a story of Carmel Bird’s, who gave me some wonderful guidance and encouragement during the process of writing and after. I’ve always admired the RAF as a journal, and read it often, so it was a terrific project to be part of.

What will you be getting up to at the EWF Hobart Roadshow?

I’ll be reading an airy, lyrical piece I’ve written about the song ‘Caterpillar Girl’ by The Cure, for The Lifted Brow’s Mixtape Memoirs. I’m nervous about the reading part as it’s not something I’ve done before, but I guess it’s something writers need to learn to do eventually. The actual writing has been great. Knowing the work will only exist for that one reading and will never be published is very liberating, and probably an experience I can learn from.  It’s also provided an opportunity for some delirious, four-year-old dancing.

Susie Greenhill is a Tasmanian writer who is working her way through a PhD’s worth of short fiction for Edith Cowan University. Her stories have been published by Island, Etchings, Review of Australian Fiction, 40 South,and in the e-book Women’s Work by Overland.

See this interview on the EWF blog.

EWF Hobart Roadshow Interviews - Caitlin Richardson

image

I interviewed Caitlin Richardson, who co-runs the Tasmanian young and emerging writers group Twitch, about Twtich’s upcoming appearances at the Emerging Writers’ Festival Hobart Roadshow and how they support young writers. 

What skills do you think emerging writers should try and develop?

It’s such a basic thing, but what I’ve been trying to learn (or re-learn) recently is how to be focused on doing one thing at a time. Reading a book from beginning to end. Sitting down to write something without getting tempted to escape to the internet the second it gets too hard. I’m ashamed to admit this, but with so much going on at the click of a button, sometimes I feel like I’ve forgotten what it feels like to become truly absorbed in one single task. This really saddens me!  I don’t think this ailment is specific to young people, but I do think we’re particularly susceptible to being sucked into a vortex of internet procrastination. There are good things about digital communication don’t get me wrong, but it’s so easy to scan over a millions things without taking anything in.  I think completely switching off sometimes can be really worthwhile.

You spent a semester studying a Bachelor of Creative Writing in East Anglia, which is quite famous for its writing degree, what did you learn there?

I was feeling a bit restless in Hobart, and I thought I may as well take advantage of that and try studying elsewhere for a while. I’d heard that the Creative Writing school at UEA was really good, so I decided to apply there. It was a really bewildering and surprising trip for me. It made me realise that Tasmania isn’t as terribly out of touch with the world as we suspect, for one thing. In the first week I bought my reader and inside it I found a Gwen Harwood poem set in a Hobart park! And then MONA opened a week after I got home which felt like this kind of magnificent, symbolic conclusion to my adventure. At the same time, the intensity of being in a different place made me produce work that I don’t think I would’ve written here. That extra bit of anonymity emboldened me to try some different things. My classmates were a lovely, eclectic bunch- lots were international students too so we were all going through this strange, illuminating experience and had the chance to write about it, which was a pretty special thing. I got goosebumps all the time…from the cold mainly, but also from hearing and reading amazing, inspiring work.

Where was your favourite place growing up?

Probably Nan’s house at Christmas. It’s a little weatherboard place and the walls are green and the roof is red and Nan is an amazingly warm and generous person who always goes to so much effort- so it’s always been a really festive place. Going there for Christmas as a kid always made me shaky and sleepless with excitement.

What projects is the Tasmanian Writers’ Centre working on at the moment?

Twitch, the centre’s group for young writers, has been meeting up at various pubs and cafes around Hobart every second weekend, so we’ll be continuing with that over the next few months. We’ll hopefully have a book swap and some other end of year festivities soon too! As for the Tasmanian Writers’ Centre more generally, there are some collaborations with the TasPride Festival coming up in early November, including a series of readings and a workshop with some really talented people involved in the local arts scene, which should be fantastic.

Do you refresh your writing by travelling or do you find staying in one place gives you more stability?

I feel really lucky to have been able to travelled a bit, and I think travelling can be great for exploring creative stuff- your senses are already sharpened in a way. At the same time, I don’t think travelling reveals everything. I realise now that you still carry your ‘baggage’ with you (as well as your actual bags…unless they got lost), no matter how distant your destination is. And people’s lives are weird and hilarious and confusing and heartbreaking in Dubai or Devonport and I think the heightened meaning we attach to travel experiences means that people can miss opportunities to unearth stories around them more locally. There is a lot of light and shade even within small, sparsely populated places like Tassie- I think writers who stay here have a lot of stories to draw on too.

What will you be getting up to at the EWF Hobart Roadshow?

I’ll be going to the Digital Writers’ conference on Thursday, and the graphic novel event and… everything basically! There’s so much happening, it’s really exciting. Twitch is running an event with the Stilts collective from Melbourne on Saturday at one of my favourite Hobart venues, the Grand Poobah. There’ll be workshops and readings and a pitching session with some really fantastic people involved and it’s going to be really fun, so if you’re reading this, make sure you come along!

Caitlin Richardson finds humans endlessly fascinating and enjoys fuelling her enduring existential crisis by learning more about them. She studied English and Sociology at the University of Tasmania and is a co-convenor of the Tasmanian Writers’ Centre’s group for young writers, Twitch. Last year she wrote some plays as part of her English Honours project and she’s hoping to have them staged sometime in 2014.

Read the rest on the EWF blog.

Book Review: Midnight Blue and Endlessly Tall by Jane Jervis-Reid

Debut Review is a monthly column on the Emerging Writers’ Festival blog by me, looking at debut books by Australian writers.

image

At this year’s Emerging Writers’ Festival, Midnight Blue and Endlessly Tall by Jane Jervis Reid was announced as the winner of Xoum’s inaugural Viva La Novella Prize. The prize is run through the publishing house’s literary magazine, Seizure. The winning novella is a wonderful and sometimes unsettling study of relationships and leaving things unsaid.

The novella is about a middle-aged carer, Jessica, who is assigned to look after a beautiful and damaged young woman, Eloise. Their relationship takes them to unexpected territory as they discover the maze of events which brought them together. Their entanglement brings up ethical issues and questions of the boundaries of relationships.

Lonely but resilient, Jessica struggles to accept her husband’s departure. She knows the right things to say to her daughter to sound confident and comfortable. She can’t hide the hurt from her sensitive and intelligent daughter. Her daughter shows the same strength of character, and eventually shadows Jessica  in more ways than her mother would have guessed.

Eloise is a former academic, but now too ill to work. She lives at home, makes art and struggles to take care of herself. Although she is still charming, intelligent and argumentative, she lacks the skills to connect with other people and cope with the workings of her own mind. She is uninhibited and sometimes cruel and violent.

The characters of the mother, daughter and lover almost seem to be elements of one person. I felt like I could relate to elements of each of the characters. Perhaps the author was drawing from her experiences, separating them and projecting them onto the three characters.

Midnight Blue seems to be an exercise in leaving things unsaid. When Jessica’s daughter brings news, Jessica’s lips opened but no words came out and tears filled her eyes. The scene ends without further elaboration, and the reader must interpret the complex emotions which lead to Jessica’s tears. Explanations are deliberately withheld in order for the characters’ actions to speak for themselves. We are never told explicitly what Eloise’s mental illness is so the readers is required to experience her moods and behaviour as a part of her character.

It’s easy to see why the judges chose this winner. It is written with restraint and the characters are deep and well-formed. This debut novella is sweet and sad and leaves you wanting more, I look forward to reading more of Jervis’s work.

Jane Jervis-Read’s writing has been published in Overland, Eureka Street and Cordite Poetry Review. She lives on the Yarra River with three housemates, six goldfish and ten thousand flying foxes.

EWF Hobart Roadshow Interviews - Adam Ouston

The countdown is on! Next Thursday, the Emerging Writers’ Festival will be heading to Hobart to present the Hobart Roadshow. To celebrate Tasmanian literature, I have been interviewing writers, editors and comic artists. 


image

I interviewed Adam Ouston about writers’ festivals, Hobart’s literary collectives and the influence of music on his writing.

What skills should emerging writers try and develop?

I think the two most admirable (and often competing) traits of the best writers are discipline and attitude. Writing anything takes a long time and a great deal of effort: the inner exploration, getting the words down and then rearranging them. I find editing exhausting, like lugging blocks. This requires sustained motivation and commitment to yourself and the story. Nothing gets done without discipline – even, dare I say it, routine. As a kid I raced go-karts in Queensland, and all the old guys had a saying : There’s no substitute for bum in seat. Same goes for writing. (What is it with me and sitting down?) The other thing is attitude, having faith in your own voice and ideas and turning a critical eye on things you’re dissatisfied with. I think a lot of us write from a place of dissatisfaction, and it is important to allow that fire to come through. The writing itself then is an act of hope, even if it is simply the hope that we might be able to express our sense of injustice or inequality. Oh, and one more thing: meet people.

Do you refresh your writing by traveling or do you find staying in one place gives you more stability?

Funny you should ask. I’m just about to head to Europe to ‘research’ my second novel. (Hint: ‘research’ means drinking with friends and staring out train windows.) I find travel important in articulating myself to myself. I mean that literally: actually being on the move. Not that I write then, but the ideas and the feeling of something happening come then. I write when I get back. I’ve just finished a PhD on Robert Dessaix’s travel writing, and his ideas of travel and home are so interwoven that his sense of stability comes from a place of instability. A feeling of home always involves a desire to hit the road. I think I gravitated towards his work because I share this feeling. Travel mirrors the strangeness of home. And the strangeness of home is one of the major imperatives for me to write.

You’ve written somewhat critically about writers’ festivals in the past, what do you think are the benefits of writers’ festivals?

Yes, I have been critical of writers’ festivals. But I am not opposed to them. I am critical of the way they seem to be vetting grounds for the uniformity and conservatism of the publishing industry here in Australia. At the same time they provide an excellent opportunity to meet people and see how and where your ideas fit. This, I think, is the key to attending a writers’ festival as a writer. (Attending as a reader is different, and perhaps far more enjoyable.) I’ve been to festivals and spoken to no one and left feeling a bit deflated and alienated for the experience. I guess this is a common enough scenario, as writers tend to keep to themselves, even the famous ones. But when I’ve got a dialogue going and met a few people, the whole landscape has changed. If nothing else, these exchanges can give you a sense of purpose and orientation. Also, meeting the right person never hurt anyone’s chances at being published!

What music do you listen to when you’re writing? I think I read you’re a musician, how does that influence your work?

I am a musician, though I use the term very loosely and with much self-consciousness. And music is very important to me. But I never listen to music when I write. For two reasons. Firstly, I want to hear the inner rhythms of my own writing – the music of the prose, if you like. As a vocalist and a writer, voice is very important to me because it is, I think, where the originality lies. With music on I can’t hear the voice of the piece I’m writing. I need silence. Secondly, I find music manipulates me into feeling things I wouldn’t otherwise be feeling. This is dangerous when writing, especially when you are feeling your way through a story. It gives me a false sense of what the words are doing.

Being in a band and writing music has had a tremendous influence on my writing. Firstly because being in a band is like being in an intimate relationship with (in my case) three other people. It’s different from other ‘team’ environments because music is based primarily on emotion, unlike sport or work. The insights this has given me in terms of character and the nature of certain ties have been invaluable. Writing lyrics teaches you about economy and rhythm and also about obscurity, about a kind of mystery that comes with strange lyrical turns. Writing prose is inherently grounded in logic, a rational flow of words and events. Music has taught me the effects of breaking with logic, and I’ve tried to weave this into my writing in a way that is still enjoyable and meaningful.

You were recently published in the Review of Australian Fiction in a volume with a number of terrific new Tasmanian writers, what’s happening in the Tasmanian or Hobart writing scene that’s making you excited?

In Hobart there are two great collectives of writers, both keen to create innovative ways of being a writer: Twitch and Under the Fat Man. In the past, the literary landscape in Tasmania has been patronised by older people and dominated by an old guard of wrietrs. Young writers have felt out of place and uninvited. But in the last couple of years this has changed. I think we’re all seeing that you don’t have to be sanctioned by the fraternity in order to consider yourself a writer. These groups are taking things into their own hands, organising events, encouraging each other, doing things, failing. Failing is important. In fact, Under the Fat Man just last week hosted a Failure Dinner where writers brought along rejection letters, failed pieces of writing, anecdotes of failure. This makes me excited.

Rachel Edwards has said that your writing is “energetic, lyrical, not necessarily narrative-based fiction” – what do you think omits the narrative? How do you work around narrative when writing?

As I indicated earlier, voice is very important to my writing. Probably most important. When I discover a writer with a spine-tingling voice, I can inhabit that world almost to the exclusion of all else: plot, character, place etc etc. I practically don’t care what happens in, say, Jeanette Winterson or Elizabeth Smart or Vladimir Nabokov. Their voices are places to be. (Incidentally, to weigh in on the gender/writing debate: women tend to be the best experimenters with voice. Men play around for a bit, find what works and repeat it over and over. Women in general are far bolder experimenters. I think this is the greatest difference between men’s and women’s writing.) This is something I also try to cultivate. I’m much more preoccupied with the how than the what. So although I might begin with an image or an idea, I let the tone of the piece do what it needs to do. It creates itself as it goes because the words become reliant on each other, trigger each other. I see reading as an act of inhabiting rather than as a means of moving from A to B. This is the mindset I take to writing. So while I’m aware of narrative and plot sequence, I’m far more aware of creating an emotional space for the reader (and me) to inhabit.

What will you be getting up to at the EWF Hobart roadshow?

There’s so much! Thank you for bringing it over. I’ll be going along to the Digital Writers’ Conference on the Thursday for ideas on all things cyberspace (a place I’m hopeless at navigating). And one can do much worse than Meet(ing) the Magazines on Friday. Also on Friday, myself and a bunch of other writery types will be taking part in the Lifted Brow’s Mixtape Memoirs at the Grand Poobah, talking about the music that’s shaped us as writers. And on the Saturday I’ll be popping along to the Twitch meets Stilts love-in. Should be fun!

The Emerging Writers’ Festival will bring it’s Roadshow to Tasmania from Thursday 31 October to Saturday 2 November 2013. For more the full program and to book, visit our events page. Adam will be appearing atMixtape Memoirs.

See this interview on the EWF blog.

EWF Hobart Roadshow Interviews - Rachel Edwards

The countdown is on! Next Thursday, the Emerging Writers’ Festival will be heading to Hobart to present the Hobart Roadshow. To celebrate Tasmanian literature, I have been interviewing writers, editors and comic artists. 

I interviewed Rachel Edwards about reading, writing and the voice of Tasmanian writing in the Review of Australian Fiction Volume 7.

What skills should emerging writers develop?

Emerging writers should read, read, read, read, read and read. They should cultivate reading with attention – and paying attention to all parts of their lives so they can crystallise their experiences for their writing – and give it to us the readers, with aplomb, conviction, creativity and strength of voice. Charlotte Wood talks about the kind of attention writers need to pay in a lovely guest blog she did for Damon Young.

Emerging writers should also consider where they submit their work to – find the journal, the publisher that seems tailored to their style, the length of the work, the genre they tend to write in.

What advice would you give to emerging editors?

To emerging editors I would say the same, your greatest foundation is the breadth and depth of your reading. Trust your instincts when you sense a work is fine – make decisions on instinct and then tease out why it is, rationally that you like the work. For me, there is a sensation that creeps up on me when I read a work, a strange rumble that means the work is good. It took a while to trust but now I do I have conviction when that sense arises. It doesn’t matter if the work is universally enjoyed by others (name one piece that is) if you know it is good, you should do what you can to have it shared.

Have respect for the writers sending you work, despite the sludgey sludgey sludge you encounter, every single one of these writers has poured something of themselves into their work.

What did you aim to achieve when curating Volume 7, Issue 5 of the Australian Review of Fiction?

I have flip flopped around the idea of there being a ‘Tasmanian Voice’ for a while now. I wanted to prove it to myself one way or the other – and while I see a keen lyricism running through a lot of the writing of Tasmanian writers of literature – Ben Walter, Adam Ouston and Susie Greenhill in particular, I can see no clear tone or style that is unique to our beautiful island. There are many trite concepts of ‘island’ played out in the notion of Tasmanian literature (isolation, the physical landscape as a character in its own right, introspective communities) work relying on these concepts is naff.

What will you be getting up to at the EWF Hobart Roadshow?

So many wonderful things to choose from! – And such a burble of excitement and engagement happening in our literary community! I will be taking part in the Digital Writers Conference (oh yes, my alter ego Paige Turner writes a blog sometimes!) and the Mixtape Memoirs have picqued my interest (I went to the fab 80s exhibition at the NGV and adored the artists’ mix tapes) – and I have to say that while I still haven’t finished the book ‘How to Read a Comic’ I will be heading the the graphic novel sesh to try and inform myself about these strange stories in pictures.

Rachel blogs at paigelovesbooks.blogspot.com and is former editor of Island, judge of the Tasmanian Literary Prizes and host of the long running Book Show on Edge Radio.

Rachel will be appearing at the Digital Writers Conference on Thursday 31 October at MONA.

See this interview on the EWF blog.