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Inner City Residency: Frances An

Frances An is one of the eight writers who recently participated in our Inner City Residency program. Frances is a writer and Psychology PhD student whose literary interests include: literatures from within Communism, overlaps between literature and psychology and Nhạc Vàng (‘Yellow/Gold Music’). She has been published in Australian and international literary platforms including Sydney Review Of Books, Seizure Online, Panoplyzine, Journal and Star 82. She received a Create NSW 2018 Early Career Writers Grant to work on a fiction manuscript about the Vietnamese diaspora across Sydney’s western and inner west regions.

During her residency, Frances completed a short story titled ‘Spare Key’, which has since been published by Pulch Magazine. You can read it here. Read on to find out more about her residency experience.

Tell us about your residency venues. What did you enjoy about writing in this space?
Centre For Stories: the shelves are filled with books published by many different publishing companies. I often scanned these to see potential places to publish my novel when it was ready.

Alex Hotel: Cushy and warm. I often worked at the standing tables outside. I work best standing up. Spying on people from the balcony was fun. The iced chocolate was very nice.

What did you work on during the residency?
I mostly worked on my novel ‘Ladder Brake’ which explores three Vietnamese-Australian women’s lives in inner-western Sydney. This included working on actual drafts as well as reading research materials on relevant topics/themes (e.g., Nhạc Vàng, literatures of Communism). There were also some short stories and an in-progress essay on my relationship with Nhạc Vàng (‘Yellow/Gold Music’).

Did you find it challenging to write for extended blocks of time, multiple times per week?
At first, yes: normally, I work standing up or stand up frequently when writing. Sitting for long periods of time was a bit difficult. However, I developed strategies to prevent fatigue: switching tasks after about 40-60 minutes, quietly getting up to take a break in a different room, etc.

Why was participating in a residency valuable for your writing practice?
Getting into the habit of staying focused for longer, advice on publication and writer’s development from staff members at the Centre For Stories.

And finally, what was your residency drink of choice? Black coffee? Peppermint tea? Chai latte?
Burdock and lotus root tea.

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