When I was nine, my house blew away in a cyclone. It wasn’t the first, nor was it the last destabilising event I was to experience in childhood. By the time I was sixteen I had lived in three states and one territory of Australia. I had multiple homes and attended more schools throughout those years than I am able to quite recall. Around then, I began to say, “My life has been punctuated by natural disasters.” Dramatic, perhaps, but those words pointed to something true, predicting a lifelong interest in listening for the unheard and hidden stories in the gaps and silences of lives, in rootlessness, and life lived in flux and renewal.
Since 2002 I have been living, second-time around, in Perth. In 2016 my debut book, Leaving Elvis and Other Stories, a collection of closely linked stories, was published by UWA Publishing. Several years earlier, in 2013, the titular story, Leaving Elvis, won the ABR (Australian Book Review) Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize.
Before that, way back around the turn of the century, I was shortlisted for a national writing prize, and awarded an ASA mentorship. Though I had been writing for some years, those works were the first I had submitted anywhere, and while the experiences were surprising and validating, in the following period I continued to write for some years without intent or real desire for publication. The reward for me was, and largely remains, the process – or the doing – of writing. So much so, that in 2010 I completed a PhD, a hybrid Creative Writing and English and Comparative Literature project exploring in part at least, the intrinsic value of the processes (rather than the products) of creative work.
Eventually I recommenced sending writing out every now and then, and other short stories and poetry have won or been listed in various prizes, and published in magazines and journals such as Westerly, Spiny Babbler and Australian Book Review, and other online and print publications in Australia and internationally. I published an academic book chapter, presented research papers at Australian and international conferences, and had plays produced for stage and radio too.
When not writing I sometimes facilitate workshops in universities, high schools and community groups. I have been a guest panellist at literary festivals and community art and literary events, judged a number of writing competitions and mentor emerging writers. Over the past twenty years I have been employed in a number of writing-related positions including academic lecturer and tutor, workshop facilitator, speech writer, researcher, and freelance writer and editor.