On 22 April 2017 I said “I do” and married Joel, the most caring and genuine man I’ve ever known, right beside the stunning Pacific. We (of course) wrote our own vows, and Joel (of course) made gorgeous camphor outdoor furniture for the reception, and my maid of honour (of course) toasted us with the words of Cormac McCarthy. We were very blessed to celebrate the day with our best and dearest family and friends, and we are very lucky to be husband and wife. (photo by Joe Ruckli)
What else in 2017? Apart from all of the necessary disruptions of getting hitched and trying to buy our first home and sneak away for a quick honeymoon on Waiheke Island, I’ve been tutoring for Queensland Writers Centre around Brisbane libraries (check out my upcoming events on the About page), and had an op-ed published in the New York Times.
More recently, I was invited to read part of the novel-in-progress at a literary salon in the Red Box. I’ve been working on the novel-project for about 6 months, and I’m finally making ground with it. In February, my mentor on this work, the very funny and enviably talented Nick Earls, suggested I cut the whole first chapter which meant reworking about 30,000 words. This epic rewrite is now complete and I’m barreling my way toward a completed first draft. I got to test out this new opening at the literary salon, and Nick, you’re right, we’ll start with the oysters.
One more thing, I should also mention I’ve been doing long distance running with my good friend and author extraordinaire Anita Heiss. Anita is running the full Outback Marathon – that’s 42km! – at Uluru in July to raise funds for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation. If you have any spare tax-time dollars to donate to this very worth cause, they will be well invested by the ILF. – read, run, write, repeat –
My short story Tell-tale has won first prize in the Fellowship of Australian Writers Alice Sinclair Award. Tell-tale is a cheeky little story about small towns and surf mags and moving on from first loves. I am very happy 🙂
It’s Festival Season! This year I caught two of the big three Literary Festivals. Braving the rain with the Byron audience for Charlotte Wood, Bill Finnegan, John Marsden, Nick Earls, Angela Flournoy, Louise Doughty and more, I spent three days wandering about in my super-sized raincoat, being soaked by words and inspiration.
Back in Brisbane for BWF16, I got to host two incredible sessions; the Memoir Reading series with Elspeth Muir, Marie Munkara, Jeremy Gavron and Hugo Race, and The Sound with Sarah Drummond.
The session with Sarah (she’s pictured above, photo credit Nic Duncan 2016) was one of the warmest and most genuine sessions I’ve had the pleasure of hosting. Sarah’s book The Sound is a beautifully written, brutal account of the sealers and women of Breaksea Island in the 1820s and I was so lucky to unfurl this story on stage with her and ask the questions I myself was desperate to have answered. Sarah’s other book, Salt Story, has gone to the top of my To Read pile and I can’t wait to see what this magnificent author, and fellow fisherwoman, does next.
I’ve been spending a lot of time with talented and eager young writers over the past few months. Kids from as young as five from all over Queensland logged in to my online Blackboard session about creativity. Over 150 participants were mystified by the photos and stories I shared of my hometown and my adventures travelling, and how this fuels my fiction. The most captivating for the young writers was this ‘bridge to no-where’ in Roscoff, France (above). I could have spent the full hour answering questions about this bridge. In the future, I might.
I also facilitated State Library of Queensland’s Word Up, a three-day intensive writing bootcamp for teenager writers aged 15-17 with authors Steph Bowe, J.M. Donellan and Melissa Lucashenko. And currently I’m tutoring Queensland Writers Centre’s eight-week WriteOn! program for writers aged 12-15. I believe youth and creativity go hand in hand, so its been a great experience to help foster Queensland’s new generation of aspiring artists.
Writing Queensland recently commissioned a piece on how it feels to be an early career artist. Published online in April, you can read my thoughts On Still Emerging here.
My latest piece of surf fiction is out now in Tracks Magazine, March edition. In The Cape, Emma can’t say what she’s been doing with Nic and Juan every day through the summer. She dreams of getting sponsored and getting out of her dead-end town. Despite her protective father’s warnings, she is going to risk it all at the next surf competition.
I’ve been working on a new project for Tincture Journal. In a quarterly column called Making Noise I’m investigating literary jealousy among emerging and debuting Australian authors. In 2016 as I battle my way through the creation of a novel manuscript, I’ll be interviewing other debuting Australian authors who have (at times) made me green with envy in an attempt to convert my flaws into fuel.
Part one is out now, in which I corral the complexly talented David Burton, author of How to Be Happy and winner of the 2014 Text Prize, into confessing some professional jealousies of his own. (muhahaha)
Buy a Tincture, or subscribe to read Making Noise in 2016.
On Friday 9 October at the 2015 Queensland Literary Awards I was honoured with the Queensland Premier’s Young Writers and Publishers Award. Read more here.
I am humbled and thrilled to announce that I have shortlisted for the 2015 Queensland Premier’s Young Publishers and Writers Awards (!!!). The line-up includes some of the State’s best and brightest, including Andrew McMillen, Michelle Law, Rebecca Jessen and Sam George-Allen. It’s a competitive shortlist, with names that inspire and terrify me. Shortlisting for a prize of such significance is a feat in itself, and I look at this shortlist with a mixture of hope and uncertainty. All of these writers are deserving. All have earned their place. It’s my honour to be among these young authors who have shaped the Australian literary culture by sharing their stories in print and online with bold and unique Queensland voices. The winners will be announced on October 9 at the Queensland Literary Awards. You can view the full QLA shortlists here.
Brisbane Writers Festival came and went for another year, bringing 209 artists to Brisbane’s cultural precinct to inspire and delight audiences in over 307 events across 2-6 September. In my role as BWF’s program coordinator I got to reunite with old friends, like Brenton McKenna, Dr Anita Heiss, Trent Jamieson and David Burton, and make new ones. It was a great honour to rub shoulders with the likes of Craig Munro, Jonathan Galassi, Sjon, and Ivy Alvarez. It’s often hard to balance life in the arts with personal creation of new work, but BWF always reignites me. Hearing from so many talented, diverse and gifted authors reminds me of the ways reading can transport you. A huge and heartfelt thank you to everyone involved. View The Weekend Edition’s opening night gallery here.
My latest work is a feature article on the craft of the novella, published in the newly launched WQ Online, which you can read online here.
Many many thanks to Julie Proudfoot @ProudMumbles, author of The Neighbour and winner of Seizure’s Viva La Novella prize, and to Daniel Young, founder of Tincture Journal, and author of a bunch of fiction, and allthenovellas.com, for their generous and thoughtful insights.
Last week, I was also invited to contribute to Griffith Review’s GReat Reads last week, an initiative where GR contributors recommend content from the web. I had this to say about this article by Tim Zimmermann.
This week on World Oceans Day, Google released a collection of interactive Street View maps to highlight awareness of oceans in trouble. Talk about World Oceans Day reminded me of this exquisite and thought-provoking article, written by Tim Zimmermann, the associate producer and co-author of Blackfish, about sustainable fishing and the ethics behind an ‘indispensable source of protein’ we use to fuel our bodies and brains.