Interviews and Trauma: a part or apart?

‘It’s become quite loud in here,’ Kimina Lyall says. True. I turn my head from the wooden booth where we sit remembering my entrance to this bar less than an hour ago. I was the only patron until Lyall arrived to make us two. But now there is a din of multiple conversations. It’s apt […]

Non-fiction picks for EWF14

One of my favourite annual booklets has landed in my hands: the program for Melbourne’s inspiring Emerging Writers’ Festival. I’ve already torn out the handy bookmarks and trawled its pages for the best non-fiction picks. Here are my tips for #EWF14…   The National Writers’ Conference (Saturday 31 May and Sunday 1 June.) There’s no […]

John Safran on writing true crime

‘Freaking hell, just lay out the facts simply at the start,’ says John Safran, writer and celebrated documentary maker. He’s not talking to me so much as to himself. We’re discussing approaches to long form – what he’s learned while writing Murder in Mississippi. And we’re talking on the phone – a fact that will […]

Are the hills alive with the sound of writing?

Reading my work out aloud is a mantra I take quite seriously. Verily I have spoken the sentences you’re reading many times. I’ve shaped them from prior versions where they sounded wrong. I’ve listened for clumsy transitions and poor grammar. I speak, I read and write – cutting, pasting and retyping all along the way. […]

How stories come to be

I draw a line on a sheet of paper. On one side I write the heading ‘Fiction’, the other ‘Non-fiction’. I conjure up elements of writing to categorise into each. But I find that most of the elements are transferable. A poem, for example, can cross both categories, an essay need not be entirely linear. […]

You are your own props department

Here’s how the props department on the television series Treme recreated a vintage bottle of cognac to use in a scene: First they checked out the real deal on the Internet and then found and copied a label they liked. Then they sourced some empty bottles in an antique shop. Next, ‘we cleaned them up, […]

Windows into non-fiction craft

There’s a woman who so regularly walks on the street beyond my desk that a part of me sees her as a colleague. When she passes she seems focused, on her way to do something specific. We’ve never spoken and have only occasionally, briefly (and curiously) locked eyes. I have no idea where she’s going […]

On not writing

I’m a firm believer in the mantra just write. Whenever I’m hovering in that space between writing and not writing I apply it. Just writing unlocks so much of a writer’s work. It gives you the prose and the thoughts to hone. It gives you a base. It’s a 100% improvement on not writing. But […]

The ideology of ideas

As a student of writing, nothing freaked me out more than that moment in class when the teacher stopped talking, took in a breath and said, ‘Right, let’s workshop.’ Initially I would be embarrassed by my sprawling prose (I’m a perennial drafter). But the main source of my horror was my inability to come up […]

In their shoes

I often wonder what it’s like to be in an editor’s shoes. Not only am I curious about the lives of others, but also I have a desire for professionalism and teamwork. I want to make publishing as seamless and as easy as possible. I figure it’s the least I can do in the writer:editor […]