A very late update

August has been such a bizarre, wonderful month. The Edinburgh International Book Festival was such a great experience last year, and this year I got to be part of it! I was part of Story Shop 2017, which involved reading my work in the Speigeltent one afternoon. I met the nicest people while doing this – the lovely staff at the City of Literature, my fellow Storyshoppers (all 17 of us!), and previous participants who came to support us. It was even live streamed on Periscope so my parents could watch it from Melbourne. I even met one of the judges of The Emerging Writer Award – the award I was lucky enough to win second place in earlier this year. She was watching my reading totally by chance!

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I also was lucky enough to chair an event. The brilliant poets J.L. Williams and Rachael Boast were appearing together and I was privileged to introduce them and ask them a few questions after their reading. We had a small, appreciative audience, and the poets signed some books afterwards.

I went to so many events! It was wonderful to see such a wide variety of writers, and I can’t possibly list them all here, but a selection of the people I got to watch/meet/chat to includes: Geraldine McCaughrean, Katherine Rundell, Amy Liptrot, Donald Smith, Beth Underdown, Kirsty Logan, the contributors to the Nasty Women anthology, Jo Baker and the nominees and winners of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, Polly Clark, Annalena McAfee, Meg Rosoff, Zadie Smith, Graeme Macrae Burnet, Brian Bilston, Daniel Piper, Hera Lindsay Bird, Vanessa Kisuule, Ali Smith, Sarah Dunant, Jenny Lindsay, Rachael McCrum, Sara Hirsch, Jo Whitby, A New International, Chris McQueer, Claire Askew, Marjorie Lotfi Gill, Russell Jones, Harry Giles, Jane Yolen, and Finola Scott.

Other festival-type fringey bits:

Edinburgh International Film Festival – we went to a screening of Final Portrait, Stanley Tucci’s directorial debut starring Geoffrey Rush, Clemence Poesy, and Armie Hammer. Stanley Tucci himself was there to introduce it! We also went to a screening of Born in Flames, the 1983 dystopian film written and directed by Lizzie Borden, who was also there to answer questions afterwards!

Edinburgh Festival Fringe – I saw Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market, a one-woman show that resets the poem in the American South. I wasn’t sure how well it would work, but I was pleasantly surprised. Jennifer Jewell is a wonderful performer. We also went to Lilith: The Jungle Girl at the Traverse, and it was like watching a socially-conscious episode of The Mighty Boosh onstage. Loved every weird minute of it!

Golden Hare bookshop – I went to the Hear Hare Hear event with Christine De Luca, Katie Ailes, and Iain Morrison reading. These three poets are always interesting, and it was a pleasure to chat to them afterwards (and win a prize in the raffle!). I was also a guest on Bibliophile, the podcast produced by Golden Hare, where we discussed the modernization of classic texts. It was great fun to be involved!

Travel wise, we’ve had a wee day trip to St Andrews…

…and a few days in London. It was a pleasure to go with Sean’s sister, it being her first trip there, and I spent most of it wandering around the Brick Lane market or in the National Portrait Gallery, getting acquainted with history and saying hi to the Bronte’s.

We stayed in a hostel in Swiss Cottage for a couple of nights and saw Tim Burton buying breakfast in a delicatessen, then I stayed in Soho with a lovely couple I met at the Bronte conference last year. I saw Eddie Izzard walking down Carnaby St. I finished my trip with a visit to the delightful Persephone Books.

Brace yourself for a level of nerdiness that surpasses even my own past efforts: I’ve managed to join two book clubs, three societies (Jane Austen, Bronte, and Richard III), and am looking forward to the festival finishing so I can get back into the walking group as well. The 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death was marked with a church service and another meeting involved Dr Cheryl Kinney from the USA lecturing on Persuasion and Austen’s use of illness and injury in her novels.

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I have also been hard at work editing Pride & Possibilities and have been loving the contributions I get to work with! I’ve done two online courses – one that tied into the book festival and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize called How to read a novel and one on the life and times of Richard III – and have been working on my professional development for the scheme I am enrolled in, including attending a seminar at the National Library of Scotland on the RDA update and a workshop at the Centre for Contemporary Art in Glasgow on libraries, social inequality, and activism. I’m also about to embark on another online course focused on Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites, and this can be claimed for my professional development as well, thank goodness!

And amongst all this, I have been attempting to take care of the everyday business of life, and prepare for a longer stay in Edinburgh. I had a haircut – bless the lovely hairdresser and her poker face when I told her it hadn’t been cut in almost two years.

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I’m going to run out of time to get my wisdom teeth out this year, but next year it will happen, mark my words! We are moving to a larger, more comfortable flat and we have booked flights back to Aus to take care of our visa requirements. I have been treasuring the Skypes and the correspondence from Australia, as well as the groups of friends I have made here – dinners, afternoon teas, and drinks have been some of the most enjoyable times in the last couple of months! We have had numerous visitors from Australia and from other parts of the UK and Europe and it’s been brilliant to revisit those friendships. Also, I am now a cat-sitter – spent a weekend last month with the handsome fellow below, and looking forward to next month when I get to sit for two kitties at once.

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Well, if you’ve got to the bottom of this blog post, congratulations. You must be my parents – hi, Mum and Dad! I’m off to rest my sore typing fingers in ice and to prepare for a hopefully quiet few months before we skip back to Melbourne for a visit.

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September in Edinburgh

I forgot to say in my last blog post that we watched FIREWORKS to round off the festival. This is NOT my photo – I took it from the Edinburgh Spotlight website and the photographer was Dave Stewart of Studio 2 Photography (www.studio2photography.co.uk) – and our view was nothing like this. We were cheapskates and stood on North Bridge, so we could only see a bit of the light on Castle Rock and none of the stage, but we had a lovely view of the fireworks themselves.

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Since then, my plan has pretty much been to keep my head down and save money. Haven’t had too much luck – the lure of dinners out with friends, book club, and after work drinks is strong! We had some lovely visitors from Aus who shouted us to a beautiful meal in Roseleaf, and Sean got his Historic Scotland pass so we have revisited the Castle too. I’ve worked a few extra shifts which will pay off handsomely when it’s time to do some more traveling – current plans include Glasgow, the Lake District, Iceland, and Brussels – and I’ve FINALLY been concentrating properly on my writing. I’m researching Scottish Lowlands life during World War Two and writing drafts of short stories and poems linked by a similar idea that I am still figuring out. So, not much of interest this month for everyone who isn’t myself. But, savings aside, I feel like I’m kicking goals.

Reviews

Back in the day, I did some writing for SYN media. The old artsmitten website is defunct now, but I wanted to make a record of the reviews I’d done for them. The first was for the collection Transactions by Ali Alizadeh. The second was for the poetry collection Free Logic by Rachael Briggs.

Transactions – Review by Emily Prince

The latest book from prolific author Ali Alizadeh, Transactions, will not disappoint enthusiasts of Alizadeh’s previous work. No stranger to controversial responses, Alizadeh has been both celebrated and criticised for his unconventional use of multiple forms and the strong political commentary that pervades his work. With Transactions, the reader is presented with a set of linked short fictions exploring themes ranging from the conflict in the Middle East to the culture of victim blaming and the accommodation of the male gaze.

Alizadeh weaves threads of connection through his prose, bringing it full circle by the end of the novel, tying off loose ends in certain cases, and leaving others achingly unfinished. It is the power of insinuation that works best in Alizadeh’s work – what is not quite described, but sits in shadows, just off the page. Those storylines that remain uncompleted will sit in the reader’s mind long after they have finished the book, and it is perhaps in these stories most of all that the political commentary speaks louder than the narrative.

Transactions spans the political divide – the characters are drawn at all ends of the socio-economic scale representing various ages, genders, ethnicities, political persuasions and experiences. Certain characters and locations Alizadeh revisits more than others, and nearly all are mentioned in stories other than their own. Among Alizadeh’s strongest characters are a Ukrainian prostitute whose father’s involvement with the Chernobyl disaster plagues her new life in Amsterdam, a mysterious online extremist who goes by the moniker ‘The Alchemist’, and a nameless assassin who winds through the stories, reappearing when the reader least expects it. Paths cross and fates intertwine but despite the carefully crafted connections, each story stands strong on it’s own – how they relate to each other is not their most important achievement.

Some of the more repulsive characterisations include people who take sexual advantage of individuals displaced by war, and there is also a strong critique of an international aid organization, guilty of patronising it’s charges and ‘putting religion before humanism’ (p. 134). Transactions is filled with timely commentaries of the current state of humanity and the globe, and the depiction of refugees in these stories echoes, with uncomfortable clarity, the predicament of asylum seekers in Australia.

The benefit of fiction gives us the figure of the nameless assassin, who becomes a sort of avenging soldier, disposing of those who have taken advantage of already-distressed victims of war. While an exciting link between the stories, not to mention a desirable prism of karmic significance, this character does not hold up as very realistic next to the organic and gritty portrayals of normal people struggling under extreme circumstances.

Alizadeh uses third-person narration regularly but not exclusively, injecting one chapter with graphic, confrontational poetry that is beautiful in its composition and inherently ugly in it’s content. Alizadeh also experiments with unbroken first-person narration that borders on stream-of-consciousness in some cases. Toward the end of the book is a purely epistolary chapter and a chapter comprised completely of one poem broken into small, precise stanzas. While these are good examples of Alizadeh’s talent with different forms, the inclusion of more variety in form throughout the book would have made their placement less jarring to the reader’s experience.

Amongst the sexual, social and political commentary of Transactions are the sometimes humorous, sometimes brutal, always thought-provoking little interactions between characters. It is these moments when Alizadeh’s prose shines the brightest and when the divide between reader and story merges most seamlessly.

Free Logic – Review by Emily Prince

Free Logic, the latest offering from philosopher and poet Rachael Briggs, 2012 winner of the Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize, is another triumph for the UQP Poetry Series. Briggs has crafted an impressive collection of almost 80 poems, widely diverse in content and arranged in topical suites.

Her strength in linking poems through suites is apparent, and some of the strongest verse occurs once the linked poems have established a pattern, be it a first line copied word-for-word from the final line of the previous poem (the ‘Tough Luck’ suite, which provides some interesting play with punctuation) or a less rigid connection that links only a few key words in the same way (‘Toothfish’ suite). The human condition is dissected and analysed throughout Briggs’ work; this is done particularly well in the ‘Deadly Sevenlings’ suite, which comprises 7 poems each focused on a different cardinal sin. The suite titled ‘This Poem Is Not About You’ cleverly ties each poem back to the author herself in the final stanza, referencing her by name, or a variation thereof.

Briggs’ American roots shine through in poems such as ‘Halloween’, and her ‘Cryptid Riddles’ suite focuses on Australia – its geography, folklore, history and culture – and is an enlightening and often amusing read, particularly when coupled with the knowledge that the author is originally from overseas. Briggs is a master of exploration, delicately teasing out certain themes and weaving them throughout her prose with patience and insight. Such themes include love, gender identity, sexual maturity, adolescence and philosophical discussion. Poems like ‘The Care and Feeding of Prehistoric Reptiles’ and ‘Swampy’ leap out at the reader, their construction eliciting a tangibility that is rare to find and even rarer to pull off. Briggs wields her talent masterfully, balancing shorter, punchier poems with more languid works, and the contrast complements the collection well.

Contrast of content also highlights her versatility – while some poems investigate the mundane domesticity of the everyday:

Me in sweatpants, you in midmorning whiskers,

planning out the last of our winter weekend.

Yesterday: bad sci fi and Islay whisky.

Now: I need coffee.

Others border on mythology and horror:

There’s a black glaze monster

gazing from the shattered clay

with one red eye. Far off, the sea

cries out. Her heartbeat roars an answer.

The sometimes-repeated metaphor of animals in place of children and pregnancy manages to exist without becoming overdone, and similes appear sporadically and beautifully in lines such as:

…the snow shows no sign of calming.

Every flake is bright as a tiny comet. 

Her expertise and passion for philosophy is obvious, and is further expanded upon in the ‘Notes’ section at the conclusion of the book. This section defines various terms for the curious reader who may not be familiar with them due to academic and/or cultural background, as well as acknowledging and referencing song lyrics used. This is an interesting resource (and no doubt a legal requirement), but some readers will prefer to skip this, and enjoy Briggs’ skill with words without revealing the nuts and bolts behind it.

My first piece of published fiction.

This is my first piece of published fiction. It appeared in issue 94 of Voiceworks magazine, in Spring 2013. It’s called Bronte. I wrote about the experience of being published here.

 

They named her Bronte, unable to decide between Charlotte and Anne. ‘A windswept name,’ thought Rebecca, with the exhilaration of someone about to do something not quite sensible. Bronte slithered out from between Rebecca’s thighs, cold and wet, with a thatch of dark hair plastered to her face. She lay gasping like a dying fish until the doctor wiped the mucus from her mouth and smacked her smartly on the back.
 
When she was five years old, she leapt off the roof of the house, landing in a sticky tangle of thorns and snapping her collarbone. When Rebecca and John asked her what on God’s green Earth she had been thinking, she blinked at them and said ‘I was thinking I wanted to die.’ Rebecca and John sent her to a variety of doctors who sifted through her mind to no avail, until Bronte told them exasperatedly (and with extraordinary articulation for her age) that she hadn’t really wanted to end her life, she was just curious to see what dying felt like. John wondered about her. Rebecca chewed her nails, and doubted.
 
When Bronte was seven years old, her younger brother Joseph was born. He was blond and fair with rosebud lips and beautiful, fat-baby limbs. Bronte held her own skinny wrists up to compare, saw the sallow shade, almost blue – the colour of a sickly oyster. Joseph had cream-coloured skin, fresh and blooming with health, and Bronte stroked the downy crown of his head, wondering if Joseph too, was curious to know what dying felt like. Rebecca lifted the baby away, into the cot, a flutter of muscles shifting beneath the skin of her forearm.
 
When Bronte was eleven years old, Rebecca’s mother came to live with the family. Grandma Joan had a brain tumour that was killing her slowly and creatively, playing dice with her senses and nerve impulses. Rebecca felt bloated with the richness of who her mother used to be. First, Grandma Joan’s short-term memory went, slipping quietly out the door one night and blending seamlessly into the detritus of the summery storm. Next, it was her ability to chew her food. Rebecca sat up next to her, five times a day with a cloth and a bowl of pureed slush. She developed a rhythm. First, you spoon into the open mouth, then massage the jaw and throat gently, ensuring the food is swallowed without incident. Then use the cloth to wipe the saliva and partially masticated mess off the lips and chin. Spoon, massage, wipe. Repeat. Bronte sat beneath the dining room table, transfixed, and Rebecca fought the urge to scream at her to go away. But she didn’t, and Bronte wouldn’t.
 
One morning, Bronte crawled up to Grandma Joan and held her nose and mouth pinched shut with her thumbs and forefingers. Rebecca came into the room just as Grandma Joan turned blue. The slap on Bronte’s cheek turned into a perfectly formed five-fingered bruise. Grandma Joan died not long afterwards, anyway, when her heart puttered to a long overdue stop. Rebecca cried for days and it was up to John to cook dinner for Bronte and Joseph. Bronte marched her peas around the edge of the plate and used her fingers to flick them neatly at Joseph. Joseph roared with laughter, his chubby fists beating the table with enthusiasm as he tried to catch them in his open mouth. Rebecca howled from the next room.
 
Bronte woke up the morning of her thirteenth birthday with Grandma Joan sitting on her chest. She tried to yell, but all that came out was a flattened gasp. As she struggled, Grandma Joan leant forwards, eyelids drooping, looking for all the world like she was falling asleep. Chewed food dangled from her lips on strings of drool and Bronte gave an almighty shove right as the longest string snapped. Grandma Joan toppled backwards off her chest and disappeared. Bronte sat up and looked around the room, afraid to move, her breath coming in great lungfuls. Words sat on her tongue, scrambling forwards before she gulped them back again, weighing her options. She thought it better not to bother her parents and besides, her mother tended to tighten her lips when Bronte mentioned Grandma Joan. The next morning, when Grandma Joan appeared again, Bronte didn’t panic.
‘Hi Grandma Joan,’ she said, easing herself out from under her and waiting to see if she would disappear. Grandma Joan nodded and tried to answer, but her words came out garbled like they had in the last few months of her life. Bronte frowned. Surely death would have brought some form of relief from life and the pain that came with it? When Grandma Joan appeared once more, several days later, Bronte was still unable to understand her. Instead she sat on the edge of her bed, her toes freezing as she watched the ghost of her grandmother articulate something Bronte couldn’t grasp. Bronte made a fist and rapped herself on the skull a few times, but nothing happened, apart from an annoying pain in her head.
 
By the time Bronte was fifteen, Rebecca had shut down. She spent all day in bed, emerging only to use the bathroom and sometimes not even then. John would carry the soiled sheets from the bedroom to the laundry and Joseph would clap his hand over his nose, too young to be discreet. Rebecca ate soup and toast and drank copious amounts of herbal tea, and when Bronte brought a tray into her room, Rebecca would roll over and pretend to be asleep until her daughter had left. Bronte crawled beneath the bed one time and lay there, breathing softly, and Rebecca was torn. To tell her to leave would mean betraying the fact she was awake. But to say nothing and continue to lie there, mother and daughter trapped in a waking cycle of pretence and mutual animosity, was more than she could bear. So Rebecca sat up and pulled Bronte out from under the bed by the ear. 
‘I want you to stay out of here,’ she said in a voice hoarse from disuse. Bronte said nothing – just narrowed her small, dark eyes as she confirmed in her mind what she had always known. From then on, Joseph and John were in charge of bringing meals, and if neither of them were home, Rebecca would go hungry. Bronte sat in her room and tapped the wall rhythmically, lightly with the toe of her shoe, hoping Rebecca could hear it. She used Morse code, constantly spelling out the same words: ‘Your mother visits me at night.’           
 
Bronte left the nest at the age of seventeen. She had a battered black suitcase (left to her by Grandma Joan of all people) and the promise of cash when she needed it from her father. She found a room above a derelict dry-cleaning store and took up a smoking habit, using handfuls of cash she earned from dishwashing at a restaurant a few streets away. One night, the apprentice chef cornered her in the laneway behind the restaurant. The clouds were streaky across the night sky like spilt paint and Bronte felt the outline of the bricks in the wall digging into her back when he pressed against her, his mouth wet like a snail. Bronte’s hands went limp at her sides. She stared at him through apathetic eyes. He let go of her and dropped eye contact. Bronte readjusted the shirt she wore and hitched her handbag higher on her shoulder. She turned and left without a word.
      
The next time he tried it – at a house party thrown by their work colleague – Bronte let him continue. Glasses of red wine had made her feel warm and smooth and supple, and their tongues were heavy in her mouth as he kissed her. The tan of his skin made her arms look like dirty snow. His breath was harsh in her ear as his grip tightened on her hips. Afterwards, Bronte lay on the rumpled bed clothes in the spare room, staring at the patterns on the ceiling made from rain-soaked plaster. Her fingers itched for a cigarette, and she wondered idly if she should walk home in the rain or stay over. A muffled, strangled sound brought her out of her wine-induced, post-coital haze. She stared at the apprentice. He was crouched on the carpet clutching his clothes. The bones of his spine stuck out like knuckles. Bronte stared at him without saying anything for a while, and then looked back at the ceiling. Perhaps intimacy would always be an unbalanced transaction. She wasn’t sure if that was the sort of thing she should know. Grandma Joan sat in the corner of the room, but Bronte ignored her too. What was the use of having questions when the answer couldn’t be articulated?
 

 

 

 

 

 

When Bronte woke up the apprentice had gone, and the pre-dawn light was creeping in beneath the curtain. She dressed, pilfered some cigarettes from the handbags of her colleagues and disappeared out the front door. She padded across the grass in the dormant lung of morning, her breath making webs of fog in her lips. She didn’t realise she was walking to her parent’s house until she looked up and saw the street sign. When she reached the letterbox, she lit a cigarette and crouched down. The curtains were closed, the house cocooned in its slumber. Joseph’s bike was lying in the grass. Bronte sat and smoked until the sun was fully risen. She watched her family wake, the house come alive. She sat and smoked and watched as her father made breakfast and her brother did the dishes. Her mother sat at the kitchen table, reading.

Tying back to ‘January business’

I would just like to say CONGRATULATIONS TO ME for posting at least once a month on this blog, this year, sometimes more than twice a month. I win the internet. But I was rereading this from earlier in the year and was struck by all that has happened since, even though it feels as though it’s been quite a quiet few months. Also, I need to write something before Sunday, because then it’s December and I will have missed a month on the blog, to nicely circle back to the start of my paragraph.

Firstly, same-sex marriage! What a crazy year. After a terrible end to Julia Gillard’s groundbreaking turn as PM (I know I’m not the only one who cried during her leaving speech. Say what you want about her politics, she’s a class act), I was willing to give the Ruddster another go, once he’d pulled on his big boy pants and decided to behave himself. Also, he was offering a conscience vote on the whole gay marriage issue which was nice. Anyway, in a fit of alarming stupidity, Australia managed to elect Gollum- I mean Tony Abbott and his 1950’s views of…well, everything. This included his frequent and clumsy dodging around the issue of same-sex marriage, saying it wouldn’t be a ‘high priority’ for his government. Right then, as you do, at least he told us up front (WHY was he elected, again?). But as soon as the ACT Legislative Assembly passed their gorgeous Marriage Equality Act, Tony’s hightailing it to the High Court to challenge it. Bit of a high priority now, hey Tone? (There’s a lot of ‘high’s in those last couple of sentences. Deal with it.) So, after lamenting back at the start of the year how disappointed I was that Australia hadn’t taken that crucial step into the 21st century, I find myself still angry, but at a very specific group of people, and also inspired by the ACT. Don’t give in.

It is impossible to list all the books I’ve read since I wrote that first blog because I’d be typing for a week, but I’ve now joined up with the Jane Austen Society of Melbourne (pretty sure I’m the youngest member by a decade at least, and the meetings are lovely and always interesting) and have been making my way through an ever-growing list of all different types of books that have piqued my curiosity. This includes most of Sonya Hartnett’s work which has been like the best kind of literary treat. And yep, I’ve kept up with New Girl, which is still lovely, and yep, I’ve watched all of McLeod’s Daughters which was mostly terrible (apologies to fans of the show, but I remembered it being so much better).

I still have not heard back from the agency that has my manuscript. It’s been well over a year, so that feels not right. I should probably take it back, but I’m so busy with uni and other writing stuff that I don’t have the time to go over it now. So I’ve decided to leave it with them until I do, and if they get back to me in the meantime, all the better. But, I had my first piece of fiction published this year and was PAID for it, so snaps for me! Read more here. Hopefully I can get something else published next year as well…(I never did go back to that angry draft I wrote about Manohar Lal Sharma. Other, better writers have said what I wanted to say with more art. And it’s made me feel sad even thinking about it as I type this.)

Also, the Book Thief film 🙂 Yay. We’ve had trailers and stills and all manner of juicy blog tidbits from Markus Zusak, so I can safely say I’m even more excited about the film now than I was back when I wrote that entry. Out in January – only weeks away!

Bronte

This blog is a little rushed, but I wanted to write something about my experience. It’s been such an interesting ride, and a few piddly words on my piddly blog can’t really convey that, but I’ll try and sum it up quickly.

A couple of months ago I submitted a story to Voiceworks magazine, a superb li’l publication run by the good folks of Express Media (mainly staffed by people under 25). I’ve been reading Voiceworks for years, and I think I even submitted something a couple of years back, but I realised recently that I only had a couple more chances to get something in because I’ll be 25 in June, and the magazine is published quarterly. So I wrote this piece, a dark little story about a girl called Bronte and her life, and Voiceworks got back to me and told me it had been shortlisted for publication!

Being edited professionally and collaboratively for the first time was a wonderful experience. It made me think so much harder about my story and the minutiae of character’s and their decisions, as well as the structure and language. AND Voiceworks pay their contributors, which for young, unpublished authors is pretty special. I went to the launch on Saturday, met lovely people, drank some wine and picked up a fresh copy of the magazine which can be purchased easily for $10.

On Monday night I read at Debut Mondays, a monthly event run by The Wheeler Centre that involves readings by 4 ‘new’ authors. Included in the line-up with me was Kirsten Krauth, Fiona McFarlane and Adam Browne, all of whom are published novelists and share illustrious careers including publication in The New Yorker (McFarlane), editing the NSW Writers’ Centre magazine (Krauth), and winning the Aurealis Prize for best Australian short story (Browne). I have had a few reviews and features published online (unpaid) and ‘Bronte’ is my first piece of published fiction. To say I was intimidated is somewhat of an understatement.

Debut Mondays is held at The Moat, the cafe beneath The Wheeler Centre. I was so nervous I couldn’t actually finish my hot chocolate (sheesh) before I went to meet Donica, the program coordinator. I was up last on the list of speakers, so my heart had plenty of time for a vigorous workout. Listening to the authors read their work was bliss. I have read The Night Guest and just_a_girl already, but hearing them read aloud by the writers themselves is always much, much better. And I have not yet had time to read Pyrotechnicon, but after hearing Adam Browne read an excerpt, I cannot WAIT. It was finally my turn, and with my heartbeat roaring in my ears, I introduced myself and started reading. Brilliantly, there was a bright light and a big microphone right in front of me which made it difficult to see the audience, and easy to forget them. I actually felt myself getting calmer as I read.

I got some really lovely compliments afterwards and stalked the other authors until they took pity on me and signed my copies of their novels. They were all so nice to talk to and I think I managed to come across fairly coherently – go me. I can’t recommend these Debut Monday events enough. All my near and dear ones who came to support me said they enjoyed themselves, and it was a great opportunity to meet other literary-minded people.AND Debut Mondays pay their contributors also. I am so incredibly lucky and thankful for this opportunity. And now I need to sit down and write more, stat.