On Writing

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

Image of Green Mangoes

“Where you from?” asks the green mango vendor from behind his cart on the ramparts surrounding Galle fort.

“Australia,” I answer, but immediately feel the need to add, “but my parents are from here.”

In your memoir Too Afraid to Cry, the narrator doesn’t use her voice, she keeps silent about things. How did you find your voice as a person and as a writer?

As children, we were raised on a farm. We would be seen and not heard. We knew we were adopted, but we never really talked about it. So, for most of my life I guess I never really thought I had a voice, or a right to voice an opinion, and you just sort of dealt with things without saying anything and I think that was a bit of a rural, Australian tactic as well – that you just sort of copped it sweet.

I came across the transcripts, or “minutes of evidence”, of the 1881 Inquiry into the Coranderrk Aboriginal reserve 11 years ago. I stumbled upon them while studying in the archives at the University of Melbourne, doing preliminary research for a PhD in history. As I worked my way through the 141-page transcript over the summer I became captivated by the voices it contains. I became deeply inspired by the Coranderrk people, black and white, and the collaboration they had forged 150 years ago, which still strikes me as one of the most remarkable stories I’ve ever encountered.

So, I work in TV as a writer. I get to write gags, indulge in my love of puns, and sow thinly veiled threats to morons among my words. But it’s all on someone else’s ticket. When it comes to picking up a pen and giving into the stories that fill my head, I’m lucky if I can jot down dot points in between phone calls and briefings.

It’s not something that is usually spoken (or written) about in the same sentence, and even less likely in children’s literature. Children and menstruation.

In her recent Guardian Australia review of Barracuda, Mary Kostakidis gave the very interesting descriptor “most un-English” to Christos Tsiolkas’ writing.

Photo of Euan Mitchell

In the lead-up to Digital Makeover for Writers, we asked Euan Mitchell what he's had to do in the name of writing.

Euan is a former senior editor for a major publisher. He has written three novels and has a range of non-fiction books to his credit. He has also successfully published other writers in severalgenres. Euan has taught writing, editing and publishing at Monash University, Victoria University and Box Hill TAFE. His latest book is Your Publishing Options.

headshot of Vanessa Russell

An interview with Vanessa Russell

Photo of Kelly Gardiner

We asked WV tutor Kelly Gardiner about her writing rituals and the books that make her cry.

Kelly is a writer, journalist and editor. Her books include the young adult novels 'Act of Faith' and 'The Sultan’s Eyes'; a picture book, 'Billabong Bill’s Bushfire Christma's; and the Swashbuckler historical adventure trilogy for young readers.

headshot of Lee Kofman

December for me has always been the month of retrospection, soul-searching, summaries. This year has been my first year of living the tricky life of a writer-mother.