On Writing

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

Omar Musa headshot

Writing poetry involves a balance of the visceral and cerebral, content and style, says tutor Omar Musa. Ahead of his upcoming workshops, we talked to Omar about what he has learned from ten years of performing poetry.

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?

'Australia Day' is an engrossing short story collection that won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript in 2016.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?

Your first novel 'Laurinda' was a comment on friendships and the hierarchy amongst private school girls. The book won the Ethel Turner Prize for Young Adult’s Literature at the 2016 New South Wales Premier’s Literature Awards. Your new book for Black Inc.’s ‘Writers on Writers’ series explores the life and influence of Australia’s literary treasure, John Marsden. How did Marsden’s own work impact your writing of 'Laurinda'?

Erik Jensen

Your first book 'Acute Misfortune: The Life and Death of Adam Cullen' went deep into the psyche of one of Australia’s most celebrated and, as it turns out, most troubled artists. The book won the Nib Award for Literature and you yourself have won multiple awards for your outstanding work as a journalist. Your new book for Black Inc.’s ‘Writers on Writers' series explores the life and influence of the Australian writer, Kate Jennings. How much did Jennings’ work impact your own journey as a writer?

'Wish you were here' is your memoir of a broken heart and a crazy dash across America in a red spotty dress and a shiny red sports car. After many impossible adventures it ends with you finding love. Was writing 'Wish you were here' a cathartic experience?  

Photo of Emily Brewin

Your novel 'Hello, Goodbye' was sparked by your aunt’s story of being single, pregnant and Catholic in the 1960s. Though not a retelling of your aunt’s experience, how much did the need to honour your aunt, and other women who had been through a similar experience, weigh on you as you wrote the novel?

‘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?

'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.

Sian Prior headshot

Understanding the way the imagination fills gaps in your memories can be a productive tool in memoir writing, says Dr. Sian Prior. Ahead of her upcoming workshop, we talked to Sian about embracing the blur between memory and imagination.