Shining a Spotlight on Writers and Storytellers

Our Interviews series gives us an opportunity to focus on the work that individuals do. It highlights the writing, storytelling, and poetic craft of people. As Between the Lines comes to a close, the Centre for Stories is excited to launch two new series: Bincang Buku and Five Minutes With.

Get to know a little more about these new and exciting series below.

Between the Lines, curated by Amy Lin and Jay Anderson, interviews a diverse selection of Australian writers to uncover the hidden processes, research, and inspiration that goes into the making of a book.

So far, we’ve had the privilege of hearing from Craig Ensor, a writer and lawyer whose debut novel The Warming is due to be published by Ventura. Described as a ‘haunting response to the climate crisis,’ Ensor imagines Australia in a world in which climate degradation was never prevented.

We’ve heard from Ruby Porter, whose debut novel Attraction tells the story of three women navigating ‘the motorways of the North Island, their relationships with one another and New Zealand’s colonial history.’ In lyrical, fragmented vignettes, Porter creates impressions of memory, friendship, and things that are left unsaid.

Photo of a Maryam sitting on a park bench

Maryam Azam explores what it means to be religious, what it means to be a religious woman and the many understandings and misunderstandings of Islam in The Hijab Files, her book of lyric poems sprinkled with humour. ‘How often do you see a smiling headscarfed woman in the media? Fear, submission and oppression dog representations of Muslim women,’ she said. ‘Humour is a way to undermine those Orientalised images.’

S.L. Lim discussed her book Real Differences, with her second novel Revenge coming out in 2020. Bold and complex, Real Differences talks about idealism, cynicism, racism and ultimately asks, ‘what are our lives for?’ While Lim used to work in the economics sector, she left that life to pursue her love of writing. When asked what motivated her to make that choice, she said, ‘You’re going to die, probably in pain, and so is everyone…so you might as well do what you need to.

Including writers Monica Tan, Lynette Washington, Eileen Chong, Christian White and many more, the project has been a fascinating insight into the craft of the novel and an author’s relationship with their text. Stay tuned–there are a few more interviews to come!

Click here to read on.

A photo of DIcky Senda wearing a floral shirt. He is standing outdoors in front of a vibrant green garden.

While Between the Lines is wrapping up, we are excited to launch two new interview series–Bincang Buku and Five Minutes With. Curated by Iven Manning, Bincang Buku, or ‘talking books,’ features authors and translators working in or writing about Indonesia, one of our closest neighbours. Dicky Senda, poet and food activist from Taiftob, spoke to us about folktales, oral tradition and improving the literacy of children in his kampung. Meanwhile, Tiffanny Tsao, writer and translator, is the author of Under Your Wings, which is due to be released in the US next year. One of her main motivations for writing the book was her desire to confront anti-Chinese prejudice within Indonesia.

Lastly, our Five Minutes With series shares insights from contemporary Indian poets. Engaging with questions of reading, craft, voice, identity, and place, the interviews focus on what it means to be a poet today. Interviewees talk about where they get their inspiration and give advice for emerging poets as they all believe in the future potential of poets to influence the world.

Photo of Kavita Jindal sitting on a chair in a grassy field

Our first interviewee, Kavita A. Jindal, is a poet whose work has been translated into six languages. With a love for nursery rhymes and world news, her upcoming book has been described as ‘witty and wry with a steely heart’.

Menka Shivdasani tells us how her life experiences and stories she’s heard meld over time into poems, often exploring women’s issues including domestic abuse and ‘young brides who had been killed over dowry demands.’ She organises the poetry festival One Hundred Thousand Poets for Change in Mumbai every year.

Our third poet, Sarabjeet Garcha, says the ‘keen desire to express the space, place, seasons, topography, joys, wonders, undulations, and constant malleability of this shielded life is what compels me (him) to write.’

With many more interviews to come, there is always something here to enjoy on a coffee break or before bed.

Check out Between the Lines, Bincang Buku and Five Minutes With here.

This blog post was written by Centre for Stories intern, Emily Siggs.

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