Captives available for pre-order!

CaptivesFCR (1)In her first book of fiction, writer and literary journalist Angela Meyer demonstrates her gift for painting vivid pictures with a few adroit, restrained brush strokes.
—Jennifer Peterson-Ward, Books+Publishing 

You guys…

My first fiction book is being published in May: Captives. It’s a petite, dark collection of flash fiction, with a cover and layout beautifully designed by Sandy Cull. Here’s the blurb:

Captives opens with a husband pointing his gun at his wife. There’s a woman who hears ‘the hiss of Beelzebub behind people’s voices’, a photographer who captures the desire to suicide, a man locked in a toilet who may never get out, a couple who grow young, and a prisoner who learns to swallow like a python.

Angela Meyer’s Captives is a collection of shimmering story wafers, each of which hovers at exactly the sweet spot of just enough. Individually piercing, Meyer’s fiction slices fit together like the best poetry does, amplifying what came before and chiming with what comes after. —Tania Hershman.

I’m so excited that some of my fiction has found its way out into the world, thanks to Inkerman & Blunt. You can follow the publisher on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Captives is now available for pre-order! If you order from Inkerman & Blunt directly before April 30, you’ll receive a signed copy (only $14.99)! You can also order it from your favourite local or online bookstore (the ISBN is 9780987540126).

I’ll be doing plenty of events around the release of Captives, which I’ll announce mainly via Facebook and Twitter. I’ve also started a dedicated events page here on the blog.

Thanks, as always, for reading. (Can you believe this blog will be seven years old the month Captives comes out?) 

Enter the joanne burns award: Flashing the Square

flashing_the_square_logoThis year, along with Richard Holt, I’ll be judging the joanne burns award for microfiction and prose poems, tied in with the Flashing the Square project during Melbourne Writers’ Festival in August.

First prize for a microfiction or prose poem is $300. The winning and shortlisted entries will be published in the Spineless Wonders annual anthology along with work by invited writers. A small number of these works will go on to be produced as videos to be screened at Federation Square during the Melbourne Writers Festival (August 21-31).

What are we looking for?

We want screen-sized literature that will stop the festival-goers and Fed Square passers-by in their tracks. How you do it is up to you. Play with story, play with language. Give us writing that has the conciseness of poetry. Give us the breezy vernacular of the prose poem. Lace your microfiction with metafiction. Let your prose pull its punchlines. Give us language that is fresh and brimful of suggestion and nuance.

The maximum length is 200 words, and for $7 you can enter as many as you like.

Closing date is 31 March 2014.

The full submission guidelines and submission portal can be found on the Spineless Wonders website. While you’re there, don’t forget to check out The Great Unknown!

Find out more about Flashing the Square 2013 here.

My own book of flash and microfiction, Captives, will be out with Inkerman & Blunt in May. Why not add it to your shelves on Goodreads?

I’m teaching workshops on flash fiction at Perth Writers’ Festival this month, and at Writers Victoria in July (with more to be announced), if you’d like to come along.

Perth Writers Festival 2014

imageI’m excited to be invited back to one of my favourite festivals, Perth Writers Festival, which runs from 20-23 Feb. I’m appearing in one event, chairing two others, and teaching a workshop on flash fiction. Hope to see some of you there?

More details on my sessions:

drabbleSat 22 Feb

10 am

Grand Allusions (free, Romeo tent)

When the fictional heroes and heroines of novels are writers themselves, centuries of literary allusion and reference can creep into a text. How important is literary allusion in the novel and what is its purpose? Rabih Alameddine and Margaret Drabble speak with Angela Meyer.

(I’m so excited about this one, wonderful writers and a nerdy, literary topic. Yes!)

5122_14834_Toby-Xavier-headshot4 pm

Hi-Vis Daze (free, Romeo tent)

In order to make ends meet, comedian Xavier Toby needed a real job. So he began a second life as a FIFO worker in a remote Queensland mine, writing down his hilarious experiences along the way. He dishes the dirt to Angela Meyer.

(I just gave this book a wee review on Goodreads.)

Sun 23 Feb

1 pm

Small and Perfectly Formed (free, Woolnough Lecture Theatre)

Julienne van LoonRon Elliott and Angela Meyer have turned to the novella, short story and flash fiction for their new books. They discuss the attraction of short fiction and its place in publishing today with Annabel Smith.

(I get to talk about my own fiction, as well as the stories in The Great Unknown, awesome.)

2 pm (I’ll have to run to this!)

Workshop: Flash Fiction ($53 to $67.50, Alexander Lecture Theatre)

Very short stories have been around a long time: even Kafka, Woolf and Hemingway wrote them. Angela Meyer introduces you to the form. Embrace brevity and experiment with notions of character, conflict and resolution, and evocation of place and mood, in few words.

I’m looking forward to catching some events as well: Lionel Shriver, Richard Flanagan, Eleanor Catton, Antony Loewenstein, Martin Amis… as many as I can manage. Off to do some reading…

Review of Janet Frame’s In the Memorial Room for The Australian

in the memorial room janet frameJanet Frame is one of my all-time favourite authors. Her writing is surprising, absurd, knowing, funny, sad, dark, moving, imaginative and honest. She was an incredibly hard-working writer, often having to work in uncomfortable or strange conditions (while overcoming much personal tragedy). I’ve read quite a few of her novels; plus her short fiction, her poems, and her memoirs, and when I heard about the novel to be posthumously published, In the Memorial Room, I had to have it.

I was also glad to review it for The AustralianIt felt like a weighty task, in some ways, to review the posthumous novel of (arguably) New Zealand’s most famous author, for a national newspaper. But it also wasn’t difficult because as soon as I began reading the novel, it was like sitting down very comfortably with an old friend; a very smart, witty, entertaining old friend. And I felt confident that I was a good listener for her.

It’s different than many recent posthumous novels, too, as it was intended for publication after her death. It’s not one of those cases where the executor has failed to burn the manuscript, resulting in questions around literary ethics. This book is, instead, quite perfectly posthumous…

The review begins:

In the Memorial Room is not just a brilliant novel but a considered and poignant posthumous literary act, a curtain call by one of the world’s greatest authors, New Zealander Janet Frame, who died in 2004.

It’s the story of a young author of historical fiction, Harry Gill, who receives the Watercress-Armstrong Fellowship, allowing him to work in Menton, France. Harry has taken the fellowship despite the fact his sight seems to be failing.

Please click through and read the rest here.

Amsterdam

My travel story/memoir ‘Amsterdam’ won the Australian Festival of Travel Writing 500 word short story comp and was published in the April issue of The Victorian WriterWriters Vic have kindly allowed me to reproduce the story here. I hope you enjoy it.

amsterdam moetAmsterdam

My last week in Europe. All the dorms at the hostel are full, so I’ve been placed at the top of a tight, winding staircase in a tiny attic room sliced in half by the roof.

I sit at the bar alone, trying to own the romance of loneliness. For the rest of the month I’d thrived on being alone, even trying for days to shake off Brisbane-boy who followed me from Venice to Vienna.

Maybe it’s because I’m so close to going home.

I look around the bar, my stomach twisting, annoyed at my own desperation (‘but you love being alone’, I remind myself) until an olive-skinned young man comes over to talk to me. His name is Fadil and he’s from Cairo. He produces a cartoonishly large, cigar-shaped joint from his pocket and asks me if I’d like to join him. We go up to the back of the bar, and smoke and talk. He answers his phone a few times, displaying his popularity, then invites me to hang out with him for the night. I’m relieved and grateful.

We enter a pool hall above a café, filled with smoke and Arab men. Fadil doesn’t play but needs to check in with about eight different people. I stand back shyly but not too awkwardly, relaxed by the drug.

Next we walk down an alleyway and Fadil presses a buzzer on a metal door. Someone draws back a flap, like in the Wizard of Oz when they reach the Emerald City. A fat man in sequins lets us in and leads us ‘darlings’ to the upper level (past rooms cordoned off with cherry-red velvet drapes). The nightclub has one long, elevated lounge around its sides and café tables and chairs on the dancefloor. The music is slow trance and there are arty white-light projections on the walls. The people around the edges have bare feet and bottles of Moet in buckets. I think one of them is Ralph Fiennes. We sit at a table and chair, exposed, and I order a glass of Moet from a menu, because I never have.

The next day Fadil and I eat among Kama Sutra tapestries in an Indian restaurant. He pokes at his phone during dinner, frowning and complaining about having too many friends. It is as though he’s complaining about having to be with me. I have not risen to the top, the cream of his many acquaintances. I have not passed some invisible test. I feel underappreciated and disappointed, so I fight the terror of loneliness and leave him to the rest of them.

That night there are such storms over Europe: rib-cracking thunder and the sky swirling, like Van Gogh’s starry night without the light. The anxiety of the possibility of flight cancellations compounds my melancholy and I drink, alone in my hovel, until I feel sick.

On the last day of my trip I take 80 self-portraits with wax figures at Madame Tussaud’s.

Ams 1Ams 2Ams 3Ams 4

Explaining myself and my many hats

Aside

I was recently asked to write a blog post for Collaboration, the blog of the Book Industry Collaborative Council (BICC), explaining what I do and how I came to be involved in so many different facets of the book industry. It took me a while, as it felt strange to ‘explain myself’! If you are curious about how I got to be an all-rounder, though, in terms of books and writing, you may like to have a read.

New flash fiction

Greetings from post-blizzard New York City!

I’ve really been getting into writing flash fiction, or micro-fiction, lately. It’s fun to try to give a strong impression of a scene, a story, in few words. And other people seem to like my super short pieces too. Seizure has just launched a flash fiction section of its website, Flashers, and my story ‘My Sweetheart Saw a Child’s Face in the Train Window‘ is the first one up. I hope you enjoy reading it.

Do also check out the submission guidelines.

I also recently had two super-short stories published as part of the London Literary Project. It’s first challenge is based on the London Clock. One of my stories is set at the Green Park Tube Station, and the other features George Orwell. I’m happy to be involved in such an interesting project.

The London Clock submission guidelines are here.

LiteraryMinded’s fifth blog anniversary spectacular! (part five)

Terri-ann White asks: ‘How often does a new writer blow your mind? Can this still happen when you are doing it as a full-on venture?’

Often it’s not a new writer but someone who is new to me. For example, I was just blown away by The Forrests by Emily Perkins, and now I want to read all of her books. I read a lot of very, very good books, but I’m only ‘blown away’ by the odd one. But yes, though I read and write all day long, I’m not cynical about it yet! I think it helps that I have other cultural interests, ie. film. And I get out to the gym every other day to help clear the cobwebs.

Lia C asks: ‘what is your LEAST favourite (I won’t say worst, though that was my first inclination) book you’ve read in this five years, and why?’

Well, there are many I just didn’t bother finishing. Of the ones I finished I think Brendan Cowell’s How it Feels annoyed me the most. I also disliked The Meowmorphosis—a book that had so much potential as an absurd parody.

Lia C also asks: ‘Let’s talk about the sky. At what time of day is the sky the most beautiful to you?’

Dusk. Definitely. At dawn I’m too busy having nightmares. At dusk, the sky turns peach and apricot, the temperature dips, you pour a glass of wine… The other day, actually, my tram broke down and I had a 20 minute walk into the Melbourne CBD during sunset. Being autumn, too, the leaves were falling. It was spectacular.

Dallas Angguish asks: ‘In ten years time, where do you see yourself? Describe, using as many adjectives as possible (minimum 20).’

I’m in an ancient, mossy stone hut in the Scottish Highlands, sipping golden drams of single malt, tapping out a colourful novel. My fubsy Jack Russell terrier excitedly awaits his dinner. My flushed children and sweet partner are snoozing by the fire, weary from their adventures. Soon we’ll gather for a colossal feast of jolly, stinky cheeses and glossy fruits. Tomorrow we’ll visit cavernous and quiet castles.

(I don’t know if I reached 20 but in a rush now!)

Lily Mae Martin asks: ‘What’s in store for LiteraryMinded?’

More of the same but as I mentioned in the last post (I think?) more videos, and hopefully a change of pace with a move overseas or more publications!

Clementine Ford asks: ‘What’s the most wonderful trivia nugget you know about an author, living or dead?’ and ‘What is one literary quote you love to share with people?’

I like that TS Eliot went around as ‘the Captain’ and would tint his face green ‘to look cadaverous’ (see more here). I also think it’s hilarious that James Joyce was obsessed with farts.

Literary quotes… Everything Oscar Wilde ever wrote. And this one from Albert Camus: ‘Nobody realises that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal – Albert Camus’. There are some gems in Kafka’s diaries, too.

And from Virginia Woolf’s ‘Portraits’:

‘But then I’m one of those people who wants beauty, if it’s only a stone, or a pot – I can’t explain.’

toothsoup asks: During all those years, what was/were your:
1. Favourite event(s)?

Getting a fellowship to stay at Varuna for a week in 2008 would definitely be up there. Seeing Michael Cunningham (who I adore) in Sydney, Melbourne and London is also up there. And one of the best panels I ever chaired was this one on magic at the Byron Bay Writers’ Festival with Kim Falconer and Maria Van Daalen. It was so lovely.

2. Most awesome material possession accumulated?

I don’t buy much outside cultural items (books, DVDs). You should see the state of our couch, pillows, etc. Would rather save money for travel than replace those things! But I do have this blue dress from Frocks and Slacks in St Kilda, a 1970s version of a 1940s dress. Polyester. It’s pretty and comfortable and I always get complimented on it. I love it:

There’s also the silver necklace G bought me in New York, moulded from snake vertebrae, and the art deco (well, ’80s revival deco) ring I bought myself in an antique shop in Windsor, near the Queen’s house.

3. Most lol-worthy interview?

Probably the one filmed on the weekend. You’ll see why, soon…

4. Books that you just couldn’t put down?

The Harry Potter series! Started reading it when I was 16. Lately: A Tiger in Eden by Chris Flynn, A Common Loss by Kirsten Tranter and Sweet Old World by Deborah Robertson were all very hard to put down.

5. Books that you just couldn’t finish?

I tried Crime and Punishment when I was about 18 and didn’t finish it. I’d like to try again. I still haven’t finished Ulysses, though I was loving it!

Laurie Steed asks: ‘You meet you from five years ago near where those Peruvian dudes busk on Bourke Street, but it’s you from five years ago. You can’t hear a thing, what with all that pan pipe action, so in the end you invite your younger self to a nondescript dumplings house in Chinatown. What advice do you pass on?’

I’d tell my younger self to keep writing, allow yourself to wallow in the hurt for a while (I was about to go through a break-up) but keep your heart open.

Jennifer Mills asks: ‘Any regrets?’

I always wanted to be one of those people who doesn’t believe in regret. I’ll keep trying at that. I do sort of regret not having the ability to see that some of my writing was bad before I sent it out. And I regret a few blog posts because they weren’t thought through, but then again, that is the nature of a blog. The problem is that people can recall them and quote you out of context! Otherwise, no regrets. So glad I moved to Melbourne.

Genevieve Tucker asks: ‘Bill Murray. Tell us what he will do next, please!’

I’m a fan of the Wes Anderson aesthetic. The Royal Tenenbaums is one of my favourite films. So much heart. Here’s what’s next for both Wes and Bill!

Bird With the Golden Seed asks: ‘Classic novel you’ve never read but have been known to nod knowingly about when it’s discussed.’

I would never!

Bird With the Golden Seed also asks: ‘Favourite line from a Bill Murray film?’

‘Back off man, I’m a scientist.’

Here’s some more.

Paige Turner asks: ‘Ultimate procrastination tool?’

Pictures of cute dogs.

Damon Young asks: ‘What’s your favourite carnal moment in a novel?’

I think that’s actually a really personal thing. I blush to think of what it is. But there’s one moment I love in Alex Miller’s Conditions of Faith where the charge of desire passes between two people (a forbidden desire) and then all you know of the ‘act’ is when her husband picks a piece of straw off her clothing afterwards. That would be one of my favourites.

Sorry if I’ve missed anyone’s qs! Thanks all so much for playing. I’ll get to your comments and replies soon. Lit-love x

LiteraryMinded’s fifth blog anniversary spectacular! (part four)

Amy Espeseth asks: ‘Has/how has your fiction writing changed since you started LiteraryMinded?’ and John (Musings of a Literary Dilettante) asks: ‘how has reviewing books helped your own creative writing?’

Five years of regular writing—fiction and nonfiction—has made me a better writer. I hope I keep getting better. Five years of reading, close reading and reviewing, has definitely helped. All the books I read make me want to do better. Some books also help me realise my limitations, ie. I’m really no good at simile, unlike Deborah Forster or Ryan O’Neill. I also can’t write something uproariously funny, but I can write something a little absurd. Many authors have helped me pay attention to detail, to fill out characters and their worlds, to make them real. I’ve learnt that there really are no rules, either! And I’ve learnt this not just from reviewing, but from attending festivals. Every writer has a different method. There is no one way you should write a story or a book. I’m still learning about plot, drive and pace. I do think I learn something new with every book I review.

I’m near the end of the third draft of a novel manuscript and I know it’s ten times better than the last one. But will it be ‘the one’? Who knows. Short stories are much harder than they used to be. But I think that’s because I’ve been putting so much energy into the longer work. Or maybe it’s because they really are so damn hard to get right!

Amra Pajalic asks: ‘What was your most controversial post and why?
How has having a blog helped you establish yourself professionally, especially as a reviewer?’

I don’t even want to revisit controversial posts. It may be a giant flaw but I really find it difficult to deal with conflict. I’m diplomatic about it when it happens, but I’d rather avoid it altogether. What a wuss! Most of the controversial stuff happened when I was on Crikey. Some of the commenters could be nasty, but I think they often came via the website expecting something specific (and receiving something else—a personalised blog post). A post about the launch of a certain anthology of Australian literature and another around a certain literary prize were the most controversial.

The blogcombined with my work at Bookseller+Publisher, are the reason I am now reviewing for a wide range of media. The blog is also the reason I get invited to literary events, so yes, it has definitely helped me to establish myself professionally.

Alexandra Neill asks: ‘During the zombie apocalypse you are only allowed to bring one book (you need to carry a lot of canned goods). What book would you take with you to the end of the world?’

(Because dogs make me smile, no matter what.)

Bethanie Blanchard asks: ‘Who has been the most surprising person you’ve interviewed (differing perhaps from your expectations)? What is the best piece of advice about literary blogging and / or reviewing you’ve received?’

I don’t think anyone I’ve interviewed has really surprised me, but there have been a few times when I’ve met someone and realised I’d had expectations about them that were based on nothing at all. For example, when I met critic Geordie Williamson (and I hope he giggles if he sees this) I thought he was going to be an old man. I don’t even know why, his reviews aren’t particularly ‘old’, I think I had a kind of ‘book critic’ stereotype in my head. I first met him at PWF and found that his skin was wrinkle-free, his cheeks rosy and his demeanour affable.

As for advice on reviewing, let’s turn to that young man Geordie Williamson and his excellent Pascall Prize acceptance speech on ‘open-handed criticism’.

Michelle (BooktotheFuture) asks: ‘In honour of your fifth bloggiversary—do you have a memory from when you were five years old (or around that age) that you can share with us?’

Little Robbie. A very small boy with black hair and freckles. He had more Ninja Turtles toys than me and I was jealous. He could do the moonwalk and in class he would whisper: ‘hey Angela, hey Angela’ and I’d look over and he’d have his doodle out.

Susan Wyndham asks: ‘What do you know now that you didn’t know when you started the blog?’

That the Australian literary community is so generous and welcoming. That writing is even harder than I thought. That scholarships and grants exist. That whisky has many different flavours.

Brian Purcell asks: ‘What was the second-best writers festival you’ve appeared at? (The Bellingen Readers and Writers Festival naturally being the best).’

The Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, which I’ve been to twice. Besides the stimulating panels and gorgeous setting, you get to mix with writers from all around the world at some incredible parties. The locals are lovely, the food is delicious and the booze is cheap, too. And Perth Writers Festival is one of my favourite festivals to go to in Australia. The UWA Campus is a great setting and they treat their guests very well.

mareelouise asks: ‘In all this time, is there one book that you could call your favourite?’

Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii-iiiiiiit that’s hard. It depends on my mood! Right now I’m going to say Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita.

Luke Stickels asks: ‘As a hard-eyed veteran, are there any qualities to your blogging that have dropped off from when you were starting out, but that you kind of miss?’

Well, I was a lot less guarded. I was living in Coffs Harbour and didn’t really know anyone personally who read my blog. Sometimes I wish I could write some of those posts about being lonely or feeling afraid or thinking everything is f**ked-up… BUT I think I realised it’s more fruitful (for me) to channel those thoughts into fiction (and even reviews). I also realised that other people were writing about those kinds of things more articulately than I. So I guess I don’t miss it too much. But I think some readers dropped off when I became more ‘serious’ (though still, I hope at times, absurd) but others were gained. The core remains the same, the expression has changed.

Oslo Davis asks (and illustrates): ‘Where do you stand on ebooks? (Literary):

Love your work, Oslo. You know, I’ve read quite a lot of short stories as ebooks (and published some) but not novels. I think that’s mainly because, as a reader, I like to dog-ear and notate. I also read several things at once and sometimes only remember to pick them up because the books are sitting there staring at me. You don’t get that with an ereader. So I don’t mind ebooks, but I seem to still predominantly be a dead-tree media reader.

Mark Welker asks: ‘Single biggest change in your life derived from starting your blog?’

Becoming a professional book reviewer! And I love it.

Mel Campbell asks: ‘Well—ARE you the Keymaster?’

No, I am Zuul, the minion of Gozer. I am the Gatekeeper!

Still enough qs for a part five! See you again soon…

 

LiteraryMinded’s fifth blog anniversary spectacular! (part three)

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:

Tom Cho, Ryan O’Neill, Josephine Rowe, Rachael King, Chris Womersley, Krissy Kneen, Claire Corbett, Lisa Lang, Amanda Curtin, Dominic Smith.

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