Open Page

I studied creative writing at UTS. Yes, it was worth it, mainly because I encountered some brilliant teachers – Martin Harrison in particular. Martin’s courses didn’t simply ‘teach’ me about writing; they changed the way I saw the world. Then I went on to do a conventional PhD at Cambridge, partly due to a strong belief that you learn to write by reading closely, and by immersing yourself in the work of others. I have taken to thinking of this PhD as a kind of apprenticeship in style.

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Open Page with Sofie Laguna

Australian Book Review
29 July 2015

I love writers festivals; most of the ones I have appeared at have been for children, and they are great fun. They have given me the opportunity to meet other writers. Most of the time I work in isolation, so the festivals are wonderful. I like presenting to children. I trained originally as an actor; for a number of years I performed my picture book My Yellow Blanky to children all over Australia.

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Open Page with Maxine Beneba Clarke

Australian Book Review
28 May 2015

Bigger Thomas, the anguished anti-hero in Richard Wright’s Native Son, never fails to make me seethe and squirm with discomfort. Although obviously not fictional, Maya Angelou was so engaging I followed her spirit right through her seven autobiographies.

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I’m a big supporter of digital publishing: it makes writing more accessible in a global context. I edited a collection called Writing Black, which is available on iBooks. This allows the American audience, which I particularly wanted to engage with while I spent some time in the United States promoting the black&write! project, to download it easily.

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Open Page with Thomas Keneally

Australian Book Review
20 May 2015

Many of my dreams have to do with the sea. Sometimes they concern Antarctica, an exciting prelude to going into the interior with other people.

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At the moment, my hero is Rimbaud’s self in his Les Illuminations. Who knows who it will be tomorrow? And my heroine? Always Lo.

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Open Page with Kate Grenville

Australian Book Review
27 March 2015

I’ve just finished a book about my mother’s life. She was typical of her times in some ways, remarkable and even eccentric in others. When she died ten years ago she left a mass of bits and pieces of memoir. I’ve used them to try to tell the story of a working-class woman riding the waves of change through the twentieth century.

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Open Page with Fiona McFarlane

Australian Book Review
15 December 2014

My hero is Jakob von Gunten, star of, well, Jakob von Gunten, Robert Walser’s singular novel about a school for servants. I love the quality of Jakob’s subversion in that lovely, strange, tiny place. And my heroine: Theodora Goodman, the eponymous aunt of Patrick White’s The Aunt’s Story, who is glorious and difficult and bewildering and kind.

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This is not the age of criticism. Theory killed criticism. This is the age of reviewing and commentary.

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Open Page with Peter Carey

29 October 2014

It’s always dangerous, I believe, to have heroes, but I do admire the author who gave us the wonders of Anna Karenina, say, and to come back to Conrad, how about this first paragraph of Lord Jim? ‘He was an inch, perhaps two, under six feet, powerfully built, and he advanced straight at you with a slight stoop to the shoulders, head forward, and a fixed from-under stare which made you think of a barging bull’. I am in awe of Jim, with his ‘ability in the abstract’.

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