The Writing Life

Information, inspiration and insights into the writing life

headshot of Kate Belle

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and, as Tolstoy said in Anna Karenina, ‘There are as many kinds of love as there are hearts.’

Kate Belle, successful erotic fiction writer, believes that one person’s crude is another’s glory when it comes to writing about sex. We ask her what it’s like writing erotica, and – despite its recent boom in popularity – why so many people don’t respect it.

headshot of Mohamed Abbas Omar

When you have issues that need to come out I think the writer will be the right person. Not the politician, not the business people, because maybe they have their own interests. In economy and politics there are always many manipulations – in every aspect of life – so as the writer I think you can be like a silent lawyer, representing the voiceless people.

The writer must give a voice to the voiceless people.

Photo of Hazel Edwards

Children's book author Hazel Edwards talks about the use of new media in writing for children.

Hazel writes quirky, thought-provoking fiction and fact for adults and children, across varied media. Known for ‘There’s a Hippopotamus on our Roof Eating Cake’ and ‘Authorpreneurship’, Hazel’s 200 books have been translated into 10 languages.

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

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.

As a kid I thought grandmothers should be amiable, knitting, cake-baking beings with soft hands. Toyo was a different kind of grandmother: she had soft hands but they were ringed in jewels. She knitted beanies but they were intricate confectionery-like works of art. Toyo’s nickname was The Empress – we were royal subjects bound by mood or whim or evocative and astonishing stories from her past. 

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.