The Writing Life

Information, inspiration and insights into the writing life

'Half Wild' is based on the real life of Eugenia Falleni, a transgender person who captivated Sydney in 1920 when, living as Harry Crawford, he was arrested for the murder of Annie Birkett, his wife. How did you come across this fascinating tale?

‘Parting words’ is your much-awaited second novel that asks: how well do we really know our parents? Your debut novel, ‘The Promise Seed’, was longlisted for the 2017 International Dublin Literary Award, and shortlisted for the 2016 People’s Choice category and the 2013 Emerging Queensland Author category in the Queensland Literary Awards. After working in public relations and marketing roles, writing speeches, press releases and annual reports, what inspired you to move into fiction writing?

Photo of Shastro Deo

Your debut poetry collection 'The Agonist' won the Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize last year and has been described as ‘full of the beautiful music of fracture and repair’. The poems are embedded in the body and in the relationship between the physical and the essence of the self. When did you first come to realise this theme in your work?

'Soon' is the story of the death of a haunted town, and the plight of the people who either won’t or simply can’t abandon all they have ever had. You spent six years driving around Australia in a homemade 4WD truck, writing letters home about the people you met along the way. Did any of these people inspire characters in your debut novel ‘Soon’?

Your much-loved and award-winning novel 'The Bone Sparrow' was about a child in a refugee camp. 'The Ones That Disappeared' is about three trafficked children searching for freedom and hope. When you get an idea for a book, what come first – the issue or the characters?

'Her' begins in 1909 and spans ten years. The book explores a dark side of history, especially women and girls battling poverty and violence. What drew you to write this tale?

'The Girl From Munich' is your debut historical fiction novel. It tells the story of Lotte who grew up indoctrinated, at school and through The League of German Girls, to give her all to the Third Reich. After World War II, when her wealth and privilege is stripped away and Germany falls to the Allied forces, Lotte sees the horror of Hitler’s Germany and the terrible consequences of the war.

Your latest book follows the tourist-laden vessel Java Ridge as it encounters the asylum seeker boat Takalar off the coast of Indonesia. Takalar is headed for Australia but runs into engine trouble and becomes desperate for help. Did you find 'On the Java Ridge' an emotional book to write?

Applications are now open for the 2018 Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship.

Now in its seventh year, the Fellowship commemorates the life, ideas and writing of Hazel Rowley (1951–2011) and awards $15,000 to an emerging or established Australian writer to support research and development of a new biographical work.

The Fellowship encourages writers to immerse themselves in their subject’s lives and culture.

Hazel’s own career received a boost when receiving a fellowship enabled her to travel to the USA while researching ‘Richard Wright: The Life and Times.’

'Australia Day' is an engrossing short story collection that won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript in 2016. The book charters the experiences of everyday citizens and the circumstances that can make them feel stuck, stagnant or alone. It represents the cultural fusion and diverse social structures that inform Australia as we currently know it. When did you decide these stories were destined for the ‘Australia Day’ collection?