On Writing

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

July 4 is a cause for celebration for Sisters in Crime Australia but not necessarily because we’re keen to salute America’s Independence Day. Instead we’re joining with Ballarat Writers Inc at the Museum of Australian Democracy Eureka to revel in the wonderful offerings of Australian women’s crime writers with a Death in July Festival. It’s one way of warding off the wintertime blues – but also testimony to the creative possibilities of partnerships. 

Firstly, let me assure you that this is not some jubilant revenge review aimed at the literary agent who pronounced the protagonist of my novel “unsympathetic”, and thus, “unworkable”. Good lord, no. It would be vulgar for me to crow, “I told you it would get published,” under the thin disguise of an essay about the value of difficult narrators.

Genre can be a tricky beast. Many writers spend a lot of time pondering what sort of genre they’ll write or how their idea or character fits within different genres. Sometimes they have their full novel written but they’re still not sure what genre it “fits” into. And does it have to fit into one genre anyway? Certainly there are a lot of novels out there that cross genres at some level, from the sci-fi murder mystery to literary thrillers.

I’ve just landed on a tropical island. I shouldn’t be here – I was going to an ancient temple but made a diversion on the hunt for treasure. There’s a ship onshore. I assume it is unguarded; I board and attack. I fell one man and feel triumphant. Nothing can oppose me. My luck runs out. Men swarm me. I’m overwhelmed. I fall.

Something has happened to Young Adult (YA) fiction in the last ten years: it has been genre-fied.

Though I try to be an open-minded reader, I continually find myself drawn to YA. I love its potential for uncertainty, for angst and listlessness, for fleeting joy and realisation. 

Running alongside Tom-William wasn’t easy. At a moment’s notice he could pull ahead of me with minimal effort. He was the older brother and the fastest by far. Not because he was taller or his legs were stronger, but because he was determined. He wouldn’t leave a game up to chance. He had to beat me.

Christine lunges onto the footpath; a taxi pulls away from the curb and onto the street almost striking her down. She leaps into the next car at the front of the rank, blood pounding in her head. Sweat pours over her skin as she gives the driver the address. The taxi makes a tight U-turn before surging forward; she asks the driver to hurry. Ten minutes later the car stops then drives off, leaving her alone outside Damien and Jenna’s house. 

“Do you write ‘Mummy-Porn’?”

The words fell from my anaesthetist’s curvaceous lips as I gazed into his vivid, violet eyes. “My goodness, he’s handsome,” the thought stumbled through my stupid, sedated mind. Even bleary with drugs, I still sensed the mocking tone. Internally I struggled, knowing I was incapable of intelligently defending myself. 

headshot of Melinda Houston

Feature writer and TV critic turned novelist Melinda Houston shares her thoughts on articles, research and the state of the television industry with Brendan Paholski.

Melinda has been a feature writer and critic for 20 years, and is currently the TV critic for ‘The Sunday Age’ and the ‘Sun Herald’. She taught magazine writing at RMIT for five years and has just published her first novel, ‘Kat Jumps The Shark’.

headshot of Narelle Harris

Narrelle Harris is a multi-published erotica writer who dabbles in print and online writing across numerous genres. She spoke with Writers Victoria intern John about the inherent connections between all stories and the importance of relationships in her writing.

Narrelle is published as NM Harris with Clan Destine Press. She has also written novels in crime, science fiction and fantasy as Narrelle Harris. Narrelle maintains a general writing blog as well as the romance writing blog,...