Five Minutes with Louise Jaques

louise2 Tell us about your piece(s)? (How did the piece come about? What were you doing/smelling/thinking/eating/touching at the time of writing?)

My pieces are often related to food, and taste. I don't think I was eating anything while I wrote it, but I was almost definitely thinking about food. I always am.

What existing book do you wish you’d written?

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez.

What the best advice you have ever gotten about writing? And what's the best advice that you still ignore?

The best advice I have ever received is to trust your obsessions. The best piece of advice that I still ignore is to avoid piles of abstraction, especially for abstraction's sake. I am so guilty of being too cryptic in my writing, and it has been a long, not-quite complete learning curve to understand this.

If you could be an animal, what would you be?

A millionaire's puppy dog.

How long did it take you to write your bio?

Embarrassingly, self-indulgently long.

Top three songs on your writing playlist?

Classical music is absolutely conducive to good writing. I would start with Beethoven's 'Moonlight Sonata,' followed by Mozart's 'Piano Concerto No. 21', and Mendelssohn's 'Song Without Words (cello version).'

What do you read as a guilty pleasure? What about just for normal pleasure?

I can't go past a good Tudor England bodice-ripping, heaving-bosom intrigue for a guilty pleasure. For normal pleasure I just love Doctor Who.

What book do you pretend to have read?

Ulysses by James Joyce. However, I'm of the opinion that no-one has ever read that book, so it's definitely not just me that's lying.

What literary tattoo would you get?

A colourful picture of Roald Dahl's BFG.

What do you do when you aren't writing? 

I'm a public relations consultant by day and I moonlight as a book reviewer.

Send us your favourite picture of an animal?

The picture is my beautiful dog who I lived with in Spain, called Bidoo. Now there's one very strange object covered with fur.

louise

Five Minutes with Dale Alexander

Dale Alexander Photo Did you have something specific you wanted to communicate with this piece?

My screenplay is quite experimental. I am interested in portraying the internal landscape of a person who is ultimately suffering from depression. Not the type of depression we all necessarily experience, but depression as a mental illness. I wanted to communicate a sense of light in the darkness.

Is there a style/genre/or writer who has significantly influenced your work?

When I write screenplays, I am influenced by the work of Sofia Coppola, Miranda July and Michel Gondry. Their work is inspiring because it abandons traditional Hollywood formula to capture the essence of something greater.

Who do you show your writing to first?

Whoever is interested in reading it. Usually my mum and my sister.

Where do you get most of your writing done?

In my head and in my bed.

What book is closest to you right now – don't lie!

Good Girls Don't Make History by Jan Stradling

What the best advice you have ever gotten about writing? And what's the best advice that you still ignore?

Write economically and 'get rid of the scaffolding'. I'm honestly not confident enough as a writer to completely ignore any advice (although I will absolutely exercise my rebellious streak by using adverbs constantly).

If you could be an animal, what would you be?

I would be my miniature dachshund, Max. He spends his days being waited on by human servants and sun baking until the next meal.

What is the strangest object you own?

Probably a bag filled with crystals from an old chandelier. They are useless but just too pretty to throw away.

How long did it take you to write your bio?

About ten minutes. I then panicked and had to send it to my mum and my sister for reassurance.

What do you read as a guilty pleasure? What about just for normal pleasure?

I don't feel guilty about anything I read. I feel like I can learn from everything. I do think Bill Bryson is pretty funny though.

What literary tattoo would you get?

When I was 18, I was in San Francisco with my cousins and wanted to mark that moment in my life by having, "to thine own self be true" tattooed between my fingers. I will be forever grateful that my cousins convinced me it was a bad idea.

Send us a picture of your favourite animal?

Dale Alexander Dog

Five Minutes with Rosie Croft

Rosie Croft 1 Did you have something specific you wanted to communicate with this piece?

When I started writing it I was living in the Eastern Suburbs and every day my run would finish at a tiny beach off Rose Bay promenade. One day I was stretching and watching the water when a woman popped into my head — she lived in a hut by the shore in convict days, she was a bit of a loner, she was running away from something and she really loved the harbour. I wrote the story to find out what happened to her. It’s more sad than I thought it would be when I started.

Where do you get most of your writing done?

We live in a tiny apartment and there’s not really any room for a desk, so I tend to get most of my writing done on my bed or at the kitchen table. My cat’s favourite place is right between me and my laptop, so I’m normally trying to work around him as well.

What book is closest to you right now— don’t lie!

A Donna Hay recipe book. I’m making dinner soon.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten about your writing? And what’s the best advice you still ignore?

I like Anne Lamott’s advice on perfectionism, from Bird by Bird, Some Instructions on Writing and Life: ‘Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft.’

Advice I still ignore? In Year 2 my teacher suggested I try and stick to one tense a bit more and I still find myself switching from past to present in the middle of sentences for no reason at all.

What you like to read?

I’ve read a lot of great books recently. I loved Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, it has such a great twist! For pure comfort reading though, probably Harry Potter or Persuasion (again).

Picture of an animal?

This is my cat making it had for me to get any work done.

Rosie Croft 2

Five Minutes with Benjamin Freeman

  benjamin_freeman

Tell us about your piece?

It’s a piece about a young man from Sydney who can’t see the Southern Cross. He has cancer which somewhat complicates the scenario, too. 

This work couldn’t have been made without...

The Pixies' song ‘Where is my mind?’ I sat down one morning at the computer and put it on. The story kind of just happened after that. I don’t think I listened to anything else for about two weeks. I tried to sneak the lyric, “I was swimming in the Caribbean” into the story but everyone who read the story kept demanding it was taken out.

What styles/genres/writers have significantly influenced your work?

When I was 18 I read On the Road by Jack Kerouac. A lot of people give this book a hard time but it changed my life in the most beautiful and cliché of ways.

What existing book do you wish you’d written?

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers, partly because it’s one of the greatest books of all time but mainly because it’s the sexiest title I’ve ever seen.

What the best advice you have ever gotten about writing? And what's the best advice that you still ignore?

“It doesn’t really make sense.” I’ve heard that a lot. It’s good advice to ignore.

The aspiring author in Donald Barthelme’s classic story, ‘Florence Green Is 81’, believes that the aim of literature is ‘the creation of a strange object covered with fur which breaks your heart’. What’s your take on this idea?

It’s difficult to argue with but I’d like to think it’s possible to write a story that makes someone unbearably happy. Maybe something about fairy bread and soft fabrics. Something that makes you feel like you just listened to a Prince song.

If you could be an animal, what would you be?

A stingray. They’re so dangerous, hairless and charismatic. They’re like the Bruce Willis of the animal kingdom.

Tell us about some strange objects you own, or have seen. Do you have a talisman? What does it mean to you?

I used to have a ceramic panther called Pete. One night I got drunk, did a headstand and broke him. Maybe this meant something significant, maybe it didn’t. Even if it didn’t I’m sorry I killed him but I’m glad I was there for his final moments.

How long did it take you to write your bio?

About twenty seconds. Then I spent about twenty minutes wondering whether it was appropriate.

Top three songs on your writing playlist?

The Pixies ‘Where is my Mind?’ Sometimes I listen to the Placebo cover, too. If it's a flighty piece, anything by Michelle Branch.

What do you read as a guilty pleasure? What about just for normal pleasure?

I print out Peter Doherty’s song lyrics and read them over and over. I don’t know whether I feel guilty about it but I certainly feel a little uneasy admitting this on the internet. He is probably the poet of our generation.

What book do you pretend to have read?

Anything by Tolstoy or Dickens.

What literary tattoo would you get?

A few years ago I got the words "and Juliet is the sun" tattooed on me. The Juliet I was dating turned out to be more sociopath than eternal source of light and warmth but the sentiment was cute. I think there are several life lessons in that story.

What do you do when you aren't writing?  

I spend the majority of my time pretending I can surf.

Five Minutes with Zoe Rochford

  Did you have something specific you wanted to communicate with this piece?

I wanted my piece to speak about childhood, and how a tragedy can force children to grow up (or down, as they case may be) far more quickly than necessary.

Is there a style/genre/or writer who has significantly influenced your work?

The thing I admire most in other writer's work are accurate observations about humanity. I love Donna Tartt's book The Secret History - every time I reread it I find another gem of observation that makes me sit back and think, my god, that is so true about people. I've tried to capture some of that in my piece.

Who do you show your writing to first?

My Dad - he's a writer himself, and he's the greatest editor and proof-reader on Earth.

Where do you get most of your writing done?

Mostly in my room at night when I should be asleep.

What book is closest to you right now – don't lie!

A Real Property textbook. I wish this was a lie.

What the best advice you have ever gotten about writing? And what's the best advice that you still ignore?

The best advice that I've ever gotten about writing came from my dad, who told me to write things I like writing. It's the simplest thing in the world, but if you don't like what you're doing, it's never going to be any good.

The advice I continually ignore is to make my sentences shorter. I'M TRYING DAD. I AM TRYING.

If you could be an animal, what would you be?

A cat. They just live the life.

What is the strangest object you own?

The skeleton of a shark's jaw, teeth included.

How long did it take you to write your bio?

About five minutes on the train.

Top three songs on your writing playlist?

I listen to the Red Hot Chili Peppers' album Stadium Arcadium on repeat when I'm writing.

What do you read as a guilty pleasure? What about just for normal pleasure?

Everything. I will read anything. If I run out of book I re-read the 'Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants' series. I love Young Adult fiction at the moment. I'm into Jonathan Franzen recently. I take any book of anyone's shelf.

What book do you pretend to have read to sound smart?

'Oh, I just re-reading War and Peace for the thirteenth time. I'm still getting so much out of it.' (Honestly though, if I'm around people who don't think Harry Potter is a classic, I'll just bail).

What literary tattoo would you get?

The first sentence of my first published book on the inside of my wrist. (Kidding).

What do you do when you aren't writing? 

My other passion is show jumping (the one where you ride horses over jumps), which I love because it involves being outside and talking to people and other things that writing does not involve. I'm also studying law (hence the Real Property textbook).

Send us your favourite picture of an animal? 

The photo is my very old Tonkinese cat Wolfy, who is really, really, really good at sitting on me.

zoe rochford animal photo

 

Five Minutes with Mark Rossiter

mark_rossiter_crop_400x400 Did you have something specific you wanted to communicate with this piece?

Something to do with travel, experience and life. There really were three boys who went to Greece. I really did dream of a dog, in that campsite. My satchel, wallet, camera and films were stolen. In fact, every single word is true.

Is there a style/genre/or writer who has significantly influenced your work?

I can’t honestly say. I like a wide variety of styles and genres.

Who do you show your writing to first?

Helen.

Where do you get most of your writing done?

At home at my desk. With the laptop, pretty much anywhere.

What book is closest to you right now – don't lie!

I am currently reading The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth. I love it.

What the best advice you have ever gotten about writing? And what's the best advice that you still ignore?

Show don’t tell. Show don’t tell. I mean, it’s all telling, in the end.

If you could be an animal, what would you be?

I’d be a bird, high up in the Andes or soaring over the Southern Ocean.

What is the strangest object you own?

Probably myself. Do we own ourselves?

How long did it take you to write your bio?

Not nearly as long as it took to finish this.

Top three songs on your writing playlist?

Mostly silence, but… Tangerine Dream's Ricochet (live, 1975). Radiohead from Kid A onwards.

What do you read as a guilty pleasure? What about just for normal pleasure?

I’ve read the Daily Mail online a couple of times. I certainly felt guilty afterwards, positively sordid. Normal pleasure? I have a hunger for the post-apocalyptic, the transgressive, the curious, the languageful.

What book do you pretend to have read to sound smart?

I pretty much have read the books I talk about, but I admit I did engage in a little speedy-reading with more than a few of the trickier passages in James Joyce’s Ulysses. It’s worth it, because the good bits are really good, especially towards the end.

What literary tattoo would you get?

Honestly this one had me stumped. Maybe “So it goes” or “That kills me.”

What do you do when you aren't writing?

I walk my dog twice a day. Toby. I love him. I also appraise manuscripts, freelance edit, teach.

Send us your favourite picture of an animal?

Toby

Mark Rossiter photo Toby Rossiter 2014

Five Minutes with Marty Murphy

marty_murphy Is there a style/genre/or writer who has significantly influenced your work?

George Saunders

Where do you get most of your writing done?

I write at my desk, a grey workstation in an open plan office, wearing earplugs.

What book is closest to you right now – don't lie!

Popular film and Television Comedy by Steve Neale and Frank Krutnik: 36cm from my left elbow.

If you could be an animal, what would you be?

A powerful owl, or a boobok. As long as I get to kill possums. They eat roses.

What is the strangest object you own?

My Grandfather's chook pen gate (former gate to Queanbeyan Cemetery).

What literary tattoo would you get?

The opening line of John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces.

Five Minutes with Katherine Pinczuk

katherine pinczuk Did you have something specific you wanted to communicate with this piece?

'Weeding By Moonlight' is about the possibility of capturing beauty in the everyday, even in times of monumental sadness and loss.

Who do you show your writing to first?

The dog usually gets to hear it first, and then a few close friends are tied up in a chair and forced to listen as well.

Where do you get most of your writing done?

In the bath, outside under the willow tree, in a bustling cafe on La Rive Gauche... nah just kidding. My head. I get most of my writing done in my head.

What book is closest to you right now – don't lie!

The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan. And twenty centimetres away from it is a little pocket dictionary – navy blue and very frayed around the edges.

What the best advice you have ever gotten about writing? And what's the best advice that you still ignore?

I don’t know if this is the best advise I’ve ever gotten but I do find it a win/win inspirational quote: "Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing" – Benjamin Franklin.

And: "If I waited till I felt like writing I’d never write at all" – Anne Tyler. Yep. Still struggling with this one. Need bum-glue. Oh, there’s a marketable idea?

If you could be an animal, what would you be?

I’d like to reincarnate as an animal that Homo sapiens don’t eat, torture, shoot for trophies or dress up in silly clothes.

What is the strangest object you own?

A Chinese funerary urn that belonged to my grandmother. It has one handle missing. I used to throw my chewing gum inside it when I was a kid. All solidified now, as is the memory.

How long did it take you to write your bio?

I’m still writing it.

Top three songs on your writing playlist?

Right now I like 'Tusk' by Fleetwood Mac. Great for getting the old brain-cogs oiled and moving. 'Try' by PINK, for strength. And 'REIKI Whale Dreaming' is great to relax, calm the mind and realise how insignificant my place in the world is.

What do you read as a guilty pleasure? What about just for normal pleasure?

The racing guide – a very guilty pleasure. For normal pleasure? Wind In The Willows was my favourite book growing up and I still return to it now and then for a comfort read. Gobbling up words is more slimming than chocolate banana splits with ice cream (and cream) sprinkled with nuts. Although that’s quite nice too.

What book do you pretend to have read to sound smart?

How’s this for pretension: Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, in French. (I don’t speak French.)

What literary tattoo would you get?

That’s easy a panther tatt as it’s the topic of my book in progrrrresssssss.....

Send us your favourite picture of an animal?

MY DOG ANTON TAKES A SELFIE!!!!

Katherine pinczuk dog selfie (Anton)

Five Minutes with Joshua Cram

josh cram 1 Tell us about your piece(s)?

Um. They’re all about disappointment. I think it’s fair to say I was disappointed with someone.

This work couldn’t have been made without...

My poetry tutor, Berndt, telling me I needed to have a breakthrough. And my subsequent freak out because I didn’t know what that meant, and if I needed to have a breakthrough by the next assessment.

What styles/genres/writers have significantly influenced your work?

Sylvia Plath, Mervyn Peake, and Margo Lanagan have been the biggest influences on my work to date — so, a little confessional, a lot Gothic, with a dash of punctured myths.

What existing book do you wish you’d written?

Little, Big by John Crowley. For the last few years, I’ve been a little awestruck by it. It’s just been reissued; you should read it. Or Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones.

What the best advice you have ever gotten about writing? And what's the best advice that you still ignore?

Diana Athill says that you should read everything aloud and CUT. She would know what she’s talking about. I ignore everything prescriptive — too many young writers I know are afraid of so many things because of stupid rules. Plot is an art; theme is satisfying; conflict is only one type of story. Also, adverbs and split infinitives are not the enemy.

The aspiring author in Donald Barthelme’s classic story, ‘Florence Green Is 81’, believes that the aim of literature is ‘the creation of a strange object covered with fur which breaks your heart’. What’s your take on this idea?

I’m not sure that idea means much to me. It’s one aim, surely.

If you could be an animal, what would you be?

Snow leopard. Or some other type of cat.

How long did it take you to write your bio?

A few minutes.

Top three songs on your writing playlist?

'Where Did I Leave That Fire' by Neko Case.

'If It’s Alive, It Will' by Angel Olsen.

'Anti-Pioneer' by Feist.

What do you read as a guilty pleasure? What about just for normal pleasure?

Young Adult novels. Some will stay with me forever. Others I won’t touch with a long stick, which is hard because I work in a bookshop. Some I read because they win awards; and those are enjoyable guilty pleasures, though I’ll never reread them.

What book do you pretend to have read?

War and Peace. I read it when I was far too young to understand it. I still say that I’ve read it though, because it's 1300 pages and no.

What literary tattoo would you get?

Obviously, I would get Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban printed in microscopic writing all down my back. But also, no. Not a fan of tattoos. Maybe one of the woodcut illustrations in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials.

What do you do when you aren't writing? 

I sleep and I eat.

Send us your favourite picture of an animal

josh cram 2

Five Minutes with Emma Froggatt

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Did you have something specific you wanted to communicate with this piece?

Yes. I wanted to create awareness about bone marrow transplants and how it is a simple process to sign up, and that it can save a life. (Visit www.abmdr.org.au to sign up).

More than communicating anything specific, I wanted to tell a true story that was real and gritty, and somehow find the points where hope collided with that story.

Is there a style/genre/or writer who has significantly influenced your work?

Yes. My work is inspired specifically by literary journalism (Joan Didion, A Year of Magical Thinking) and a wider array of memoirists, creative non-fiction writers and feature writers.

Some of them include Maggie Mackellar (When it Rains), Helen Garner (The Spare Room) and Dave Eggers (A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius), and so many many more.

I love this type of writing because it engages with reality and communicates it in ways we don't necessarily see at first glance. We can wrestle with real issues in a literary way.

Who do you show your writing to first?

For my spontaneous prose, my friends Rachel and Laura (and whoever else follows me on tumblr). For this piece, first my Mum, who has a spectacular way with words and walked with my sister through every step of her leukemia. And second, a new friend Freya Latona who my lecturer put in contact with. I talked with her over Skype and we bonded over our stories. Thank you Freya for being my second reader. We are now friends on Instagram.

Where do you get most of your writing done?

For this piece, at my desk in North Sydney late at night. Now, in bed late, on my phone, late at night. Also anywhere. I have a lot of writing in the notes section of my phone.

What book is closest to you right now – don't lie!

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

What the best advice you have ever gotten about writing? And what's the best advice that you still ignore?

"Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way." - E.L. Doctorow, Writers At Work: The Paris Review Interviews, Second Series

If you could be an animal, what would you be?

A puppy dog? A tiger? Who would I be in life of pi?

What is the strangest object you own? Is it covered with fur?

I had a little toy character that I named Lucy and put on the left side of my car to help my know left from right. We called her Lefty Lucy.

How long did it take you to write your bio?

About three. I sent the options to my friend Imogen and my brother in law Grant. This was option 1. (I think we went with option 3). But perhaps option 1 was better.

Emma Froggatt is a full time lover, part time hacktivist and believes nike is taking over the world. After leaving UTS' writing program in 2009 amid a quarter life crisis, she's thrilled to have returned, completed an MA in journalism and have her work published in the writers anthology. 

Top three songs on your writing playlist?

Wow, who has a writing playlist! I had a playlist named "spring '09" which I listened to sometimes when writing this piece. On that playlist is Re: 'Stacks' (Bon Iver), and 'Milk and Honey' (As Tall As Lions).

What do you read as a guilty pleasure? What about just for normal pleasure?

I don't really have guilty pleasure reads, if I don't want to read, I don't read. I pretend to have read the classics though, or at least infer I know what they're all about, when I would have only read about them.

Same with current releases, I'll just read the reviews, or get my mum to tell me about the books she's read. (She's a big reader).

What literary tattoo would you get?

None, bad idea. I don't want a tat and if I did, I feel a lit tat would be a bit naff. (Sorry to writers who have them).

What do you do when you aren't writing? (We'd like to show the diversity of careers and life experiences that writers lead outside of their writing).

I'm currently working at Australian War Stories, a publishing project under AAP. The project focuses on writing books about soldiers' experiences in WWI and WWII from their old service records, unit diaries, newspapers, and so on.

Strange Interviews Covered With Fur

 

In the lead up to the launch of Strange Objects Covered With Fur we'd love for you to meet our 2015 authors and editors! Watch this space over the next few weeks.

The Anthology will be first launched at the Sydney Writers’ Festival, on this Friday 22nd May 2015. This is a free event and no booking is required. The launch is by Evie Wyld, whose novel All The Birds, Singing won the 2014 Miles Franklin Award.

A second launch will follow at Better Read Than Dead bookstore on Thursday 18th June 2015. This launch will be by Luke Carman, author of the critically acclaimed An Elegant Young Man, and Associate Director of SWEATSHOP: Western Sydney Literacy Movement.

Five Minutes with Hannah Story

hannahstory 1. Where do you get most of your writing done?


On buses and trains, sometimes while sitting outside in Martin Place or my own backyard. Wherever there’s a view.

2. Internet on or off while you’re writing?


On. If you’re not researching while you’re writing, then you’re doing it wrong. I like to have social media on at the same time all those micro-interactions are starting to inflect my prose.

3. Which book/poem do you wish you’d written?

The Virgin Suicides. I don’t think anything will ever top that book.

4. Which book are you constantly lending your friends? 

I’ve started to lend out Alice Munro, but before that it was Bukowski, Marguerite Duras’ The Lover and Daniel Handler’s Adverbs.

5. Which fictional character do you think you're most romantically compatible with?

Any man in an Alice Munro story. The way she writes about relationships is too real.

6. Best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?

Less is more.

7. If you could only read and re-read one book for the rest of your life, which one would it be?

Adverbs – Daniel Handler. Or Monkey Grip – Helen Garner.

8. Which book do you only pretend to like to look cool/well-read?

I pretend to have read more than 400 pages of Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow.

9. What are you working on at the moment?

I’m working on a couple of pieces about relationship dissolution in the age of Facebook, Tinder, Tumblr, etc. One for an exhibition, it’ll be raw and probably “too real”, and the other as a collaboration, telling the story of that unraveling through social media (non-)interactions.

And a pic of your writing space please...

hannah

Five Minutes with Isabelle Li

Isabelle Li 1. Where do you get most of your writing done?

I often write on public transport, the back of a bus, the quiet carriage of a train, the cramped aisle seat of an airplane. I write at home, and away – one writes well in the solitude of a strange city in a state of jetlagged disorientation.

I was in Varuna for two weeks in April and had a taste of writing fulltime. I loved it, walking 1.5 hours every morning, and writing for the rest of the day. I’m still recovering from the shock of returning to the real world.

2. Internet on or off while you’re writing?

Either is fine – growing up in a family of six sharing two rooms, I’m not so easily distracted. Once I was working at the dining table and my other half asked me three times from the cooking bench behind me, to look at his marbled cheesecake. Later he was flabbergasted when I blamed him for not showing me the cake before it was baked – honestly I didn’t hear him.

3. Which book/poem do you wish you’d written?

The English Patient and I bet I’m not the only one. I reread the book whenever I lose faith in literature. It has the kind of lyrical prose that fills the hearts of writers and poets with desire.

4. Which book are you constantly lending your friends? 

Most of my friends are very well read, so I’m usually at the receiving end. A friend of mine lent me Raychman’s The View from the Bridge, after he hadn’t lent anyone a book for 18 years! The book came in a plastic folder and smelled of mothballs. I read it thoroughly and returned it in a different plastic folder with the smell dissipated. Another friend lent me all her favourite Dorothy Porter. Another lent me Hartley’s The Go-Between. The latest borrowing is a book about clouds still bearing my friend’s bookmarks from his own study of meteorology, as if I’m tracing his footsteps in the sky.

Although I don’t usually lend books to others, in the past two years I’ve bought Mark Tredinnick’s Fire Diary and Bluewren Cantos as gifts for my friends. They are such beautiful and generous collections that everyone would love.

5. Which fictional character do you think you're most romantically compatible with?

Probably with the English patient, after he’s burnt beyond recognition. Like Hanna, I love reading and have a penchant for anonymous saints. I love reading out loud but nobody wants to hear me. If I want to read out a poem, most people want to know the length first, and I have to negotiate for anything longer than a page. The English patient is a very good listener, when his hearing aids are turned on, and I don’t mind feeding him dates and plums.

6. Best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?

When I was small I asked my father what life is. He said, ‘Life is a struggle.’ That’s the best piece of advice I’ve received, for everything, including writing.

7. If you could only read and re-read one book for the rest of your life, which one would it be?

I’d have to bring with me Dream of the Red Chamber written by Cao Xueqin in Qing Dynasty China in the 18th century, a tragic love story set against the rise and fall of an aristocratic family, with 120 chapters, 40 major characters, and 500 minor ones. The novel encompasses magnificent prose and poetry, but also many aspects of Chinese culture, food, medicine, clothing, art, theatre, religion, history and philosophy.

8. Which book do you only pretend to like to look cool/well-read?

This question reminds me of The Naive and Sentimental Novelist by Orhan Pamuk. In one of the chapters he gives the example of reading for social identity: an intelligent girl queuing up for university registration is proudly reading Proust and she’s disappointed that another girl who looks rather shallow is reading the same book! Reading is so individual, like romantic love – no point in dating someone just because others like him. But I would like to read more philosophy books.

9. What are you working on at the moment?

On a macro level, I’m working on a novel. On a micro level, I’m wrapping up a number of stories and starting a new one, while researching on poetry in prose, writing the lyrical novel.

And if you dare to share, we'd love to see a pic of your writing space...

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Five Minutes with Mark Gertskis

 Mark Gertskis 1. Where do you get most of your writing done?

At my desk at home. In my head first, while running or in the shower, or just twiddling my thumbs, then at the desk.

 2. Internet on or off while you’re writing?

Definitely on. I never know what obscure fact I might need to google.

 3. Which book/poem do you wish you’d written?

On The Road. If Jack Kerouac experienced even half of what was in that book, it would have been great fun to write.

 4. Which book are you constantly lending your friends? 

My copy of Luke Davies’s Candy. I forced it upon about six or seven people when it came out and it actually disappeared for a good year before I tracked it down again. Who knows who else read it.

5. Which fictional character do you think you're most romantically compatible with?

Sabina in Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being.

  6. Best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?

It’s never too late to start.

 7. If you could only read and re-read one book for the rest of your life, which one would it be?

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. If I was forced to do only one thing over and over, it’d have to be laughter, and I haven’t read a funnier book.

 8. Which book do you only pretend to like to look cool/well-read?

Ulysses by James Joyce. And I only read about half of it.

 9. What are you working on at the moment?

Channeling my inner Raymond Chandler for a short story with a noir element.

Five Minutes with Caroline Connaire

caroline 1. Where do you get most of your writing done?

I like to write in busy cafes, I feel most productive when I can feed off that manic energy around me, plus, of course, there is also the coffee.

2. Internet on or off while you’re writing?

I like to keep the Internet on to fact check and follow up on ideas and words. I know some people find it distracting, but when I am in a good writing mood, I don’t really feel that susceptible to distractions.

3. Which book/poem do you wish you’d written?

The novella ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ will always hold a special place for me. Capote’s writing and characterization is so perfect. Holiday Golightly is probably one of the loneliest characters in history, but that always seems to get overlooked by her charming quirkiness. I am also a sucker for nostalgia and cats.

4. Which book are you constantly lending your friends? 

My copy of ‘Tulcutta Wake’ by Josephine Rowe has passed through many, many hands. I love how eclectic and easily consumed all the pieces are, even friend’s who aren’t great readers can appreciate it.

5. Which fictional character do you think you're most romantically compatible with?

Ignatius J. Reilly and I would have great chemistry.

6. Best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?

I’ve never really received any advice directly related to writing. So let me leave with you something Vonnegut said:

“Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.”

7. If you could only read and re-read one book for the rest of your life, which one would it be?

‘The Happy Prince and Other Stories’ by Oscar Wilde was published exactly 100 years before I was born and was given to me as a present as a child. My Dad would read them to me before bed. I revisited them again a few years ago as an adult and realised they weren’t really children’s stories at all – they are so much more complex and beautiful the second time around.

8. Which book do you only pretend to like to look cool/well-read?

I am yet to actually finish ‘Infinite Jest’ by the late David Foster Wallace. I hate admitting this to people.

9. What are you working on at the moment?

I have been doing a bit of freelance editing. I have also been collecting words and turns of phrase that I hope to eventually repurpose into something worthwhile.

 

Five Minutes with Tom Lodewyke

tom lodewyke 1. Where do you get most of your writing done?


Just in my room, or on the train. I spend most of my time on the train.

2. Internet on or off while you’re writing?


On. Don’t you know Facebook is an essential part of the writing process?

3. Which book/poem do you wish you’d written?

The Catcher in the Rye or Fight Club. I can’t pick.

4. Which book are you constantly lending your friends? 

I don’t really lend books to people. Maybe I’m just a horrible person.

5. Which fictional character do you think you're most romantically compatible with?

Miss Marple. THERE, I SAID IT

6. Best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?

‘Adverbs are fucking shit. ’

7. If you could only read and re-read one book for the rest of your life, which one would it be?

 Danny, the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl.

8. Which book do you only pretend to like to look cool/well-read?

An ex-girlfriend once gave me The Notebook. I even read it. 10/10 would not recommend.

9. What are you working on at the moment?

More short stories, I want to be one of those people who have a Collection. I’m thinking about a novel as well… Said every writing student ever.

Five Minutes with Adam Jeffrey

adam jeff 1. Where do you get most of your writing done? 


In my front room at home.

2. Internet on or off while you’re writing? 


Bit of both. If it’s off, it invariably goes on because I’ll I need to check some piece of reality that I’m unsure of.  If it’s on, I rarely get to that point (distracted).

 3. Which book/poem do you wish you’d written?

Too many to list.  When I had just started my studies at UTS, I read some first novels by Australian writers. I loved Favel Parrett’s Past the Shallows and hope one day I can write something half as good.

4. Which book are you constantly lending your friends? 

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer.

5. Which fictional character do you think you're most romantically compatible with?

I think lets talk general compatibility – I reckon the Dog in Two Caravans (Marina Lewycka) would be an awesome companion.

6. Best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?

Sit down.

 7. If you could only read and re-read one book for the rest of your life, which one would it be?

Never been big on reading books twice but most recently I’ve read Cloudstreet and Catcher in the Rye again. One of those perhaps?

 8. Which book do you only pretend to like to look cool/well-read?

Sorry. Not good at pretending.

9. What are you working on at the moment?

Sitting down for longer. It’s very much a work in progress.

Five Minutes with Joanna Lihou

joanna lihou 1. Where do you get most of your writing done?

All over the place. At 1am in bed when I’ve woken up with an idea. On the couch when I’m meant to be studying. But when it’s structured ‘writing time’ normally at my desk.

2. Internet on or off while you’re writing?

On, but Facebook off. I like to be able to look stuff up if I need to.  I'm a firm believer in well researched writing.

3. Which book/poem do you wish you’d written?

A small part of me is always going to want to say Harry Potter. But more recently 'The Help', by Kathryn Stockett.

4. Which book are you constantly lending your friends?

There isn't just one book, it changes depending on what I've read recently. So at the moment it would be 'The Rosie Project' by Graeme Simsion.

 5. Which fictional character do you think you're most romantically compatible with?

There's a book called 'Chocolat' by Joanne Harris, and the male protagonist is a river-rat/gypsy called Roux. There's something very sexy about how exotic, mysterious, sarcastic and quietly sweet he is. Also, my opinion may have been swayed ever so slightly by the fact that he was played by Johnny Depp in the movie.

6. Best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?

Any writing exercise is valuable. Every time I have a writing task for uni, I remember the potential it has to become something real.

7. Which book do you only pretend to like to look cool/well-read?

Every time someone brings up Tolstoy or Dickens I always just nod along like I know what on earth they're talking about. I haven't read any of it.

8. What are you working on at the moment?

That's for me to know, and you to (hopefully) find out!

Five Minutes with James Worner

worner_j 1. Where do you get most of your writing done?


Desk at home. Currently positioned to look at a wall rather than out a window. You know what I’m talking about.

2. Internet on or off while you’re writing?


I thought I knew fairly well the historical period in which I’m writing but have discovered how easy it is for the construction of every sentence to turn into a research rollercoaster. When I found myself trawling Google Images for ‘window+dressing || curtain 1914’, I knew it was time to pull the cable.

3. Which book do you wish you’d written?

Just my own. Can’t wait to get to the point where I’m able to say ‘I wrote that!’ What a brilliant thought. Hopefully not too far away. Watch this space.

4. Which book are you constantly lending your friends? 

Tragically, more a borrower than a lender. Am easily persuaded by the reading discoveries of friends, family, fellow students, work colleagues, etc. So many great things to read.

5. Best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?

The day I had the ‘write what you know’ aphorism debunked was a good day. As a creative writer, I love the idea of writing my way into something I have absolutely no idea about. Total invention. Total imagination. Writing is the only way I have to be a person or live a life I ‘don’t know’.

6. If you could only read and re-read one book for the rest of your life, which one would it be?

My Norton’s Anthology has kept me busy for most of my life thus far and will, no doubt, continue to do so for the rest of my days. Can I have both volumes?

7. What are you working on at the moment?

As noted above, am having a stab at some historical fiction, set on the NSW mid-north coast during World War I. Beautiful location. Great point of entry to some fascinating stories.

And if you dare, we'd love to see the space in which you create...

j worner desk

j worner inspiration

Five Minutes with Bron Bates

bron-bates 1. Where do you get most of your writing done?


At home in the study area which is right in the middle of the house. Sometimes I’ll take a laptop and work at a café or even in the car, but I’m more comfortable at a desktop.

2. Internet on or off while you’re writing?

I am always plugged in. Always.

3. Which book/poem do you wish you’d written?

Hmm, I hope I find my own voice.

4. Which book are you constantly lending your friends? 

I’ve lent out Somaly Mam’s autobiography quite a bit. And anything by Anne Tyler. I have duplicates.

5. Which fictional character do you think you're most romantically compatible with?

Gawd, I have no idea. Not Mr Darcy.

6. Best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?

The advice wasn’t to me, but I read it, remembered it and like to think it could be true. It was from Doris Lessing to a (then?) aspiring author. She told her something like, if you can write a good letter, you can write a good book. Please let that be true.

7. If you could only read and re-read one book for the rest of your life, which one would it be?

Definitely something by Anne Tyler. Probably Breathing Lessons. There’s a line in it about not being crazy that still makes me laugh out loud even though I must have read that book 20 times.

8. Which book do you only pretend to like to look cool/well-read?

I don’t really pretend to have read books that I haven’t. But I don’t finish reading a lot of books. Embarrassing. My book club friends can confirm this.

9. What are you working on at the moment?

An article on birth for work. I hope to start a new creative piece soon.