On Writing

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

A few years back I went to see another acclaimed production of ‘Hamlet’. It was okay, though Hamlet looked a bit too just-outof-bed for me and Ophelia had one of those universal accents acquired from television, such that I expected her at any moment to say ‘OMG! That’s awesome!’ But that’s all by-the-by, because it’s the words we go for, isn’t it? Those oh-so-famous speeches that half the audience knows by heart – what pressure to deliver those and hope to satisfy!

‘Good morning Eliza, my name is Dr Gillespie, I am here to talk to you.’

‘What did you say your name was?’

‘Dr Gillespie.’

‘Your first name?’

‘Still Dr Gillespie to you Eliza

The sound of chairs scraping across wooden floorboards roused me from my Sunday morning slumber. Rubbing my eyes, I slumped down the stairs to find one of my six-year-old son’s living room ‘rehearsals’ in full swing. He had been given a part in the movie ‘Gremlins 3’, as one of the Gremlins of course, and he was preparing furiously at home.

ALAA agent Jacinta di Mase answers some common questions about literary agents.
 

What does a literary agent do?

A literary agent is a writer’s representative in the commercial world: their manager, their business representative, protector of their copyright, the one who weighs in on the side of the author/illustrator in all dealings. 

Forget all that literary terminology, Alex Fairhill has created a glossary for the street-smart writer.
 

advance A sum of money that may be offered to an author signing a contract with a publisher. Yes – ‘may’. Advances are not always offered and the author must earn more than that amount from sales before earning royalties.

Story is an ancient art form. They stood by the campfire, the early storytellers, and gave shape to their experiences, and in doing this, they gave voice to the collective. The storyteller acquired their art through practice. Their tales took shape as they worked at them. They found the best ways to tell their stories by standing in front of an audience, and seeing what worked, through trial and error.

Does gender still matter?

A portrait of Liz Conor

Writing historical non-fiction is daunting, but also thrilling, says Dr Liz Conor. Ahead of her workshop, part of our Having a Voice: Writing Women series, Liz gave WV an insight into her writing process, uncovering untold stories, and the pleasures of the archive

Balancing research with personal experience is often tricky for non-fiction writers. Ahead of her Writing Women's History workshop, part of our Having a Voice series, WV intern Nicola Wetzel caught up with Iola Mathews to find out how she researches and writes about women's stories.

One of my favourite movies as a child was a time-travel romance called ‘Somewhere in Time’. It stars the late Christopher Reeve (think Clark Kent without the glasses) and is embarrassingly corny now that I look back, but the reason my sister and I kept renting that worn old video cassette wasn’t the romance, it was the origin of the pocket watch.