Indian Ocean Mentoring Project – An Interview with Belinda Hermawan

The Indian Ocean Mentoring Project  is an extension of our incredibly successful mentoring program undertaken two years ago for early and emerging writers of African heritage. This second mentoring program is focused on early and emerging writers who are permanent residents or Australian citizens of Indian Ocean heritage living in WA. The Indian Ocean Rim countries are: Bangladesh, Union of Comoros, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Oman, Seychelles, Singapore, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. In this series of interviews, we uncover the inner worlds of these budding writers, focusing on their connection to the Indian Ocean region, their motivation for writing and the authors that inspire them. 

Belinda Hermawan can often be found hanging out in a dimension of her own, conjuring up entire universes in her mind. The aspiring writer is enraptured by her mentor Laurie Steed, and is intent on honing her writing skills through this project. In the 70s, both her parents moved to Australia from Indonesia in pursuit of education, and sparks flew when they met at an ESL class in Sydney.

Some of Belinda’s favourite authors include Emma Cline, Jenny Zhang, and Carmen Maria Machado.


Tell us a little bit about yourself  

I’m someone who has to find time to create worlds. If I don’t seem with you, I’m conjuring something in my head. But for most of the week I have to be ‘on’, and that’s okay. The real world is a reference point.  

What is your connection to the Indian Ocean region? 

My parents came to Australia from Indonesia in the 70s to study. They met in an ESL class in Sydney. 

When did you get interested in writing or when did you realise you had a passion for writing 

I was quite an average creative writer at uni. But the ideas were there. Since then it’s been all about practice, editing and focusing on all aspects of the craft. 

What are you hoping to get out of this mentorship?  

I’m hoping to absorb all the wisdom I can from the genius that is Laurie Steed. I’ve only been writing short fiction for two years, so I hope the gains will be exponential.   

Who are some of your favourite writers/books? 

Lauren Groff, Emma Cline, Elif Batuman, Catherine Lacey, Jenny Zhang, Carmen Maria Machado, Curtis Sittenfeld. And now Lorrie Moore thanks to Laurie Steed! 

Photo: Zal Kanga-Parabia

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