Sort by category: Interviews

Gestalt Interview

This week I was lucky enough to have a chat with Laurie Steed from Gestault journal on writing, film and the lure of Melbourne. Always a strange experience giving an interview, kinda like rehearsing an idealised version of yourself.

Anyway, you can find the full interview over on the Gestalt blog. … Read more

A drink with Chris Flynn

If you haven’t seen it already over at, above is the latest episode of the “A Drink with…” series I’ve been working on with Angela and co.

For this episode we tried to address some of the feedback from the last episodes; to improve the quality of the audio, introduce the writer sooner, and shorten the overall length.

I think this interview is far more succinct, with very little fat in the conversation. The format retains a personal one-to-one feel, but by controlling more of the elements, the end result feels a little more formal than the first episode we shot (when really we had no idea what we were going to do).

There’s a balance between the two styles that we are still trying to hit, and hopefully we’ll nail it a little more successfully in the next episode.

That said, it’s pretty easy to make a video like this if you’ve got a great interviewee. Chris Flynn is someone very easy to like in a very short time, and comes across as very genuine on screen as well as in life. It was a pleasure to film the conversation between Angela and Chris.… Read more

A drink with LiteraryMinded

A couple of months ago I teamed up with Angela Meyer (of LiteraryMinded) to brainstorm a new video series based around author interviews.

When thinking about the right platform, I did the rounds of what people were doing with author interviews around the web. I found most videos fell into one of two buckets:

1. Video recordings of festival appearances
2. Face to camera QA sessions filmed in a dark room

Both methods have their pros and cons, but overall most of the videos I looked at were recordings of other events and hence the delivery of the material leveraged first the set up of the event and second the video format.

One of the main opportunities to ‘see’ an author comes at festivals, which are financed by people who read books. For those of us switching over to electronic formats, festivals are often inaccessible – both by geography and by area of interest (ie going to a festival to see the one author you like) – and hence the opportunity to visually interact with authors (even in a one way format) become limited.

I feel also that an author’s public persona can be quite under-serviced by festivals, and by the quality of online QA videos. Many writers shine on stage, but many don’t, particularly when in a group or when forced to … Read more

Spineless Wonders interview

A few words from me over at Spineless Wonders – a new independent publishing imprint dedicated to the short form.… Read more

Digital Writers’ mini-conference

One of the biggest challenges facing writers in 2011 is choice.

Almost as loud as the voice that asks are we going to write today? are new accompanying (and irritating) voices asking who are we writing for?, what format should we write in?, which word processor?, what genre is this?, how should we publish? and finally: do we have the right font to start with?

This saturation of choice can be debilitating at any stage of writing, as it often feels that it’s no longer as simple as deciding to bunker down and ‘just write’ (as if that were easy to begin with!).

Increasingly, the craft of writing is linked to the business of writing, with new pathways to success and collaboration open to writers able to diversify away from ‘just writing’ and instead acquire skills such as HTML coding, search engine optimisation, video editing and social media. Skills that no writer would have likely ever heard of prior to a few decades ago.

At times this new state seems daunting. The expansion of choice can add a new layer of weighty, and potentially useless, overhead to the more primal task of getting words to the page.

But understanding the landscape, checking your compass (choose the more … Read more

15 minutes with Linda Jaivin

Last night I had the chance to sit down with my fellow Emerging Writer's Festival bloggers and talk with novelist and translator Linda Jaivin, currently in town for the racy Dirty Words event on June 1.

Among many topics covered – Chinese Kung Fu, the art of bluffing your way through an interview, Renaissance art and French New Wave cinema – I was particularly interested in Linda’s vast catalogue of book reviews. As Linda is both a successful novelist and a critic, I wanted to find out how her position as an author influenced her approach to critquing other authors’ work.

I’ll admit that I have a pretty ignorant view of what a book review actually sets out to achieve. As a pure summary of a text, it seems a paradox that a book of 100,000 words can be explained in 150. If that were possible, all books are in dire need of more ruthless editors. And if reviews are pure opinion, how does that wash when books are such personal objects of affection? I was keen to get a more informed perspective from Linda, who has been reviewing books since before I was born.

Linda explained her approach to a review was less about like/dislike and whether to recommend a purchase, and more about giving the reader an understanding of the work itself, leaving it up to them whether they should read it or not.… Read more

wip: daniel simpson

I first bumped into Dan Simpson a couple of years ago when we were both well out of uni and looking for a way to give our writing lives a kick start.

Not long after, we formed a writer’s group and, over the next two years, routinely dragged our sorry-arsed drafts out of drawers and into the light for some healthy thrashing.

Dan is an interesting writer, dappling in many fields (more recently speculative fiction) with a gift for landscape fiction and possessing remarkable drive when it comes to hitting the desk and getting on with the ugly task of writing. While on average I would knock out four stories a year, Dan would be close to twelve – and all whilst balancing family and work commitments.

So enough introduction. Here’s Dan Simpson’s WIP… Read more

how I learned to stop worrying and love book trailers

The book trailer for Mo Hayder's novel Gone is one of my all time favourites. In fact, I liked it so much I put it on my last book trailer roundup. The man behind the production is Paul Murphy, from one-man Sydney outfit Book Tease.

It turns out Paul’s obsession with book trailers started way before mine, BY in fact (Before Youtube). I recently had the chance to pick his brain on how to make a book trailer and the past, present and future of the short format industry.

How did you get into making book trailers?

[PM] There’s something oddly circular about how it all happened. About eight years ago, I was working in the marketing department of a large Australian publisher, and one of my responsibilities was managing “book videos” (as I think we were calling them at the time).

It was a pretty doomed project – there was no Youtube or Facebook, and we’d have to convince bookstores to install these giant old TVs just so they could play them (of course, almost every bookstore has an LCD screen in their front window nowadays). But it did give me an insight into the potential of the form.

I could have filmed the Gone trailer as a straightforward film trailer, but it wouldn’t have had the same impact. To be watching these grainy figures from far away, and listening to this crackly audio, your mind still has to piece it together as you

Read more

wip: karen cunningham

Today kicks off the first edition of a new #wip series on unpublished writers. The aim of this series is to explore the writing process for those still working on their first novel. Exploring success, failure and all that comes between. The first unpublished novelist up is Karen Cunningham.

I should start with a correction, Karen Cunningham is technically published. A graphic designer by day, Karen produced a picture book for kids, Jenny Spaghetti, under the pen name Karen Margaret in 2001. What started as a whim to tell a story, escalated into a full time distraction as upon finishing Karen turned her enthusiasm towards a young adult manuscript.

Karen says whilst she remains proud of Jenny Spaghetti, she soon became aware that there was more to learn, and further to grow, especially when contemplating a full-length manuscript.

“I’ve been to many workshops at writers’ festivals, and also completed online courses through the Australian College of Journalism and Writing for Success. The courses gave me the ability to work to a deadline, which I really need, otherwise I just tend to put it off all the time.”

Jenny Spaghetti by Karen Margaret

Karen, a mother of two, says her on again off again … Read more

#authorinterview: patrick allington

Longlisted for the 2010 Miles Franklin award, Patrick Allington’s debut novel Figurehead blends history and fiction to explore the turbulent rise and fall of Cambodia’s infamous Khmer Rouge regime. Allington delivers his thoughts on what it means to feel ‘finished’ and the challenges of taking on the big H in fiction.

It is all too easy to pigeonhole novels that draw from history. Blurbs pine over the phrase ‘based on a true story’ and yet rarely are we encouraged to consider what is lost and gained in the process of putting the story back into history.

In his debut novel, Figurehead, Patrick Allington explores the complex and brutal set of events surrounding the coming to power of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia during the late 1970s.  Rather than stick rigidly to the tracts of recorded history, Allington courts fact and fiction in delivering his absurdist take on the period, using the inconsistencies and misgivings of his characters to give readers a glimpse into the conflicted history of a brutal regime.


“I don’t want to pass myself off as some sort of Cambodia scholar,” says Allington. “I’m sure actual scholars would have no problem telling you the folly of … Read more

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