Tell us a little about yourself and what you do.
I’m a writer who has published book reviews, articles and short stories in many publications, big and small. I live in Melbourne, but I grew up in Coffs Harbour, in NSW. I’ve been acting editor of book trade magazine Books+Publishing, and have blogged about books and writing for more than six years (including for Crikey). I often chair panels and interview authors at writers’ festivals, and I’m almost finished a doctorate, which is exciting! Most exciting, though, is that I’m working on two books at the moment: an anthology of short stories (as editor) for Spineless Wonders, and a chapbook of flash fiction (as author) for Inkerman & Blunt.
Who (or what) inspires you to become a writer?
Reading and writing feed into each other. I learn so much by reading, and by reading critically, and when I read a book that moves me in some way or hits me in the gut I’m reminded of why I’m so passionate about stories. But it’s not just books that inspire me; films and music do too. And there were two people early on who encouraged my imagination: my Oma and my year three teacher Mrs Grant.
Where do you get your inspiration from when you write?
When I need an inspirational ‘hit’ I’ll turn to favourite authors (ie. Franz Kafka, Richard Yates, Janet Frame), movies like The Hours or Midnight Cowboy (movies that move me and remind me of my ‘truths’, which help to develop my ‘voice’ as a writer) or to David Bowie. Another driver, I think, has always been strong emotions like anger, fear, loneliness, wonder—the questions that arise from those emotions can be explored in fiction.
What are the five words that people who know you would use to describe you?
That’s hard! I might describe myself as smiley, open, curious, awkward and ambitious.
I would love to be described as glamorous, intelligent, generous, talented… (Ambitious, see?) My partner recently said I have an element of mystery, which I found surprising (but pleasant).
Tell us about your very first job and what path have you taken since then?
I worked part-time at a cinema from when I was 14 to 18. It was an awesome job; I saw movies for free and had lots of fun with my cinema friends. I felt comfortable hanging out with people older than me, so I enjoyed that aspect of it, too. I also became a serious movie buff, and ended up studying a BA (Hons) in film studies and literary studies. After that I worked a few bad jobs then had a great stint in a bookstore. When I moved to Melbourne I started at Books+Publishing as editorial assistant but was editing the magazine (after two years) before I left to do my doctorate. Currently I have two part-time jobs and take freelance contracts while working on my own projects. My doctorate is almost ready for submission.
Describe a typical day in at work?
It depends what day it is, but I usually get up at 8 and work from home, taking a break around 2pm every second day to go to the gym. Some days I’ll have meetings at lunch time or in the afternoon. I work best in the morning so I try not to schedule anything then. On many evenings I continue working up to and beyond dinner time, because so much of what I do is enjoyable! I might read books for review, or for events, or currently I’ll read submissions for a short fiction competition I’m judging (the Carmel Bird comp). I also travel a bit for festivals and events, so sometimes work on the road.
As a writer, what is your biggest frustration?
I suppose what’s hard for any writer is that many people don’t read (or only read one type of publication, ie. news). It’s also a pretty tough industry, and even if you are pretty good, there’s always going to be someone better getting all the prizes, grants, big contracts etc. It’s quite ridiculous how little money most professional writers earn from writing. But I don’t think I was ever naïve about that.
Tell us about how you prioritise your work.
With freelance projects, I do try to choose projects I will enjoy and care about, but sometimes I must admit I can’t say no if a decent amount of money is offered. I prioritise my day job on Mondays and Tuesdays. I prioritise my fiction on Thursdays and Fridays. I fit everything else around that. I definitely work on weekends!
Tell us about how do you connect with other creative professionals, and your clients (i.e. how do you network)?
I am quite a social person anyway and I think ‘networking’ happens quite organically by being interested and attending events like book launches and festivals, and by chatting about books on Facebook and Twitter. Twitter has definitely brought me readers, and helped me make connections, over the years.
What advice can you offer other creative people who are just starting out and following their passions?
Work really hard, and take some opportunities that will ‘help’ (financially, career-wise) but try mostly to seek, and create, opportunities that will keep you on the path towards your true passion. Also, try to be patient and try not to compare yourself to others. This is hard, I know.
What dreams do you still want to achieve or fulfil in your life?
I want to write many books, travel more, have kids at some point, and achieve something meaningful—make a difference. Not sure if this will be through writing, volunteering, or other work. I often feel pessimistic about my or anyone’s ability to change anything, but it’s also too easy to feel that way and I have to remind myself that we do have an effect on each other and this can ripple outwards. After all, certain books, from Albert Camus’ The Myth of Sisyphus, to Clive Hamilton’s Affluenza, have had a big impact on my view of the world.
What is your proudest moment so far?
It hasn’t quite come to pass, but it will very soon (it’s up to proofreading stage) so I will have to say completing my doctorate.
Who do you most want to meet and why?
David Bowie, though what on earth would you say? He is there in his art anyway. When you meet writers and artists you admire, it’s nice to tell them you admire them (for their sake) but you have already met them, and they have said much more to you, through their work.
What is the most important lesson in life that you have learned?
My parents taught me always to imagine, truly imagine, what it might have been like for that other person. Imagine going through what they’ve gone through. Imagine then how they might feel in this situation and why they might react in the way they’ve reacted. Have empathy.
What book are you reading right now, and do you have a book you would like to recommend?
I’m reading two great books. Varieties of Disturbance is by Lydia Davis, who just won the Man Booker International Prize, and it’s a quite absurd and analytical series of stories, many have been reminding me of Seinfeld. They’re kind of about nothing and everything. And I’m reading Kirsten Krauth’s debut novel just_a_girl, which is (so far) about a teenage girl and a combination of her true sensual reactions to the world, and her performance of sensuality and sexuality. It’s dark and observant and I’m liking it very much. I’ll be launching the book in Castlemaine in July. If I could recommend anything right now it would be anything by Janet Frame. You just can’t go through life without having read her.
Where do we find you and you work? (list stores & links, websites )
A link to some of my fiction: http://literaryminded.com.au/angelas-short-stories-available-digitally-2/
and I’ve only just joined Pinterest, I think I’m ready to show people…! http://pinterest.com/literaryminded1/
Thanks for having me!