Katy McDevitt asks: ‘I’d love to know what your “big-picture” plans are for the blog—will you be blogging a book, for example?’
I don’t think I’ll ever blog a book, that only really works for established authors like Max Barry (as with his novel Machine Man.) Video content is something I’ve been wanting to do for ages and am happy to finally be doing it. The only other ‘big picture’ plan is that hopefully towards the end of next year I’ll be blogging from abroad, from another city of literature… I have no doubt the perspective will change, and the blog might become a little more personal again as I blog about the journey. Cross fingers that at some stage I’ll also be blogging about the publication process of my debut novel.
Philip Thiel asks: ‘I’d love to hear about the space/s from which you blog. Do you move around, or settle?’
At the moment I’m blogging from a cafe but that’s because our internet is down (great timing!). I mostly blog from home, though recently I’ve moved from the dining room table back to the desk in my room. You can see that desk (or at least what it looked like a while ago) in this post on Tara Moss’ blog.
shambolicliving asks: ‘What’s the biggest factor in growing your readership? Also, what has sustained your enthusiasm for blogging over the five years?’
Joining Twitter and engaging with like-minded people on there really helped my readership to grow. Social media in general keeps traffic flowing to the blog. My enthusiasm for blogging has remained pretty strong. Probably because the main theme of the blog is a subject I’m truly passionate about. When I have felt my enthusiasm for blogging waning in the past I would change something about what I was doing, eg. read something outside my comfort zone or take a few weeks off from literary events. Sometimes it has been hard to keep up when I have so much else going on, but blogging has become habitual. I just naturally work it in around my other work.
Christopher Currie asks: ‘What’s the biggest way your reading habits have changed over the five years?’
I now find it difficult to read a book without taking notes, even if I don’t plan to review it. I read a lot more Australian literature than I did at the start or just before I started. I don’t feel obliged to finish books any more, I used to read them all through to the end. There are just too many!
Paul Anderson asks: ‘Top ten emerging authors? (I know, contentious)’
I find this so hard to answer because I can only judge by authors I’ve read, and of course, there are so many emerging authors I haven’t read. Here’s ten authors that people really need to check out, though (and I’m taking ’emerging’ as ‘having published [in the mainstream] three books or under’). I’ll also limit this to Aus/NZ authors:
That leaves out so, so many. But you can’t go wrong if you check out the work of these authors! See this page on the ANZLitLovers blog (click through to reviews of debut novels) for more ideas. Or read the Review of Australian Fiction, which publishes an emerging writer in each issue.
Kirsten Krauth asks: ‘Why are you so passionate about Australian literature? And what set you off on that passion?’
There are so many great voices in Aus lit, writing in a wide variety of genres. There’s so much I haven’t gotten to yet. You should see the pile of books by women I’ve accumulated for the Australian Women Writers Reading and Reviewing Challenge! Alex Miller, Gail Jones, Charlotte Wood, Paddy O’Reilly and Robert Drewe were among the first authors who got me interested in Aus lit. And I started to read literary magazines when I was about 20 as well. One of the main reasons I got so ‘into’ Aus lit, too, is that I write fiction, and I was interested in what was being published. But I’m actually interested in literature from all around the world, I just end up reading more Aus lit because of the events and reviews that I do. I actually think there’s some phenomenal stuff coming out of New Zealand (and always has been).
Soph Langley asks: ‘How do you see the character of yourself over the course of the blog? What parts of her have changed? What has stayed the same? If she were a character in a novel, what novel would it be (one that already exists, or perhaps a type of novel)?’
I’m a bit embarrassed by the earnest, over-excitable (and oversharing) early ‘character’ of this blog. I think I am less hasty now, I give more time and consideration to my opinions and my writing (though I am still often embarrassed by it). I’ve become more patient, and I hope I’ve become more humble (besides this self-indulgent extravaganza!). A lot of people showed faith in my early writing, including an earlier manuscript, but then I had to be beaten down for a while (lots of rejection) in order to learn how to write better. I think it’s a good thing that I now expect much more rejection and time to hone my skills (albeit partly in the public eye!). Something that has stayed the same, from that early character, is the enthusiasm for literature! But I think I’m more analytical now, and less vague and touchy-feely (though there’s definitely still an element of what I ‘feel’ in the blog pieces—it’s a blog after all).
I used to think I was Joseph K., and I still understand the Kafkaesque feeling of something bearing down, of effort, but now that I’m surrounded by so many people who’ve felt something similar in their lives, I’m not that character any more. But who am I? A bit of an obsessive like Miss Havisham (and can easily get too comfortable), a bit of Jane Austen’s Emma, making plans (and mistakes), a bit cruel like Humbert Humbert, a bit of the literary rat Firmin, overambitious like Dr Frankenstein, existential like Hamlet, a nostalgic dreamer like Gil Pender. Would like to be a bit more adventurous like Dirk Pitt and clever like Sherlock Holmes.
Phew. I’m fading… The next post may be enhanced by alcohol. x