On Writing

Writers, editors, agents, publishers and more share their thoughts, experiences and stories.

When Lionel Shriver ignited public debate about cultural appropriation with her 2016 Brisbane Writers Festival opening address, ‘Fiction and Identity Politics’¹, followed by Yassmin Abdel-Magied’s swift rejoinder², I took it personally. Not in a white privilege, why-are-they-trying-to-stop-me-from-writing-whatever-I-want? kind of way, but in a way that made me pause and reflect on my own creative practice.

In recent times there have been numerous discussions on the complexities of writing non-white characters¹, but little attention has been given to the craft (and politics) of writing white characters, and representation of white characters in literature and on screen. To put this simply: most of us write white characters though it is difficult to find articles on the subject.

The idea for ‘The Bone Sparrow’ came to me years ago. We were watching the news and debating who would get up from the couch to fetch the chocolate from the kitchen. Our baby lay asleep in my arms. It was a warm night; I think it was summer. The windows were open and I complained about the mosquitos. I looked up at the television and saw a child, maybe a year older than my own, playing in the dirt and oblivious to the camera crew beyond the wire fence, the guards in the background, or the saddened, lost faces of the adults surrounding them. I remember thinking, imagine that.

Robert Watkins, Head of Literary at Hachette Australia, spoke to Emma Cayley about Own Voices, the current publishing climate and writing outside experience.

EC: Hachette Australia is one of the publishers leading the way in bringing Own Voices writing to a mainstream audience, certainly in Australia. How did this progressive shift happen?

English actor Daniel Day-Lewis once said: ‘A voice is such a deep, personal reflection of character.’¹ The only male actor in history to have won three Academy Awards for Best Actor, Day-Lewis is famous for his devotion to and research of his roles. While playing Christy Brown, the Irish painter who was born with cerebral palsy and was able to control only his left foot, the actor practically lived in a wheelchair on the set for weeks and crew members were required to spoon-feed him. He stayed so long in his wheelchair that he damaged two ribs.²

A portrait of AS Patric against a wall with graffiti on it

AS Patric answers five questions about the inherent power in the short story. 

Kate Mildenhall interviews debut author Katherine Collette about her new novel (and subject of ‘The First Time’ podcast), ‘The Helpline’.

 

 

Kate Cantrell unpicks the unstable and always changing nature of the markers: early, emerging and established.

What makes a successful mentorship? Mentor (and author) Kathryn Heyman and mentee (and author) Michelle Johnston share their experiences.

Marie Alafaci demystifies the manuscript assessment process.