*That time I said something tongue in cheek and people really thought I was creating a book about gut health.
WHAT DREW YOU TO WRITING?
Some of my earliest memories involve sitting alone or even amongst people, making up stories and reimagining the world around me. I’ve never stopped doing that, so I guess it was a natural progression.
DID YOU STUDY WRITING? IF SO, WAS IT WORTH IT?
Yes, informally, then at university as a ‘mature age’ student. The formal study enriched my reading habits, and gave me the space to work out what really matters to me in terms of my own writing. Everything I’ve done in life was worth it, at some level.
DO YOU WORKSHOP DRAFTS WITH OTHER WRITERS?
No. What I do benefit from is having a select group of friends to discuss the other stuff that sometimes impacts on the ability to award the writing work the space it needs. But we rarely talk about the writing projects until they are close to finished.
WHAT ARE THE GREATEST CHALLENGES THAT EMERGING WRITERS FACE?
Detaching from the 24/7 feeds and the hype around prizes and public events, and remaining focused on individual goals can be a challenge. Oh, and a personal one – coming to terms with being called ’emerging’ at fifty years of age!
HOW SUPPORTIVE ARE GOVERNMENT, PUBLISHERS, AND LITERARY MAGAZINES?
I imagine that all publishers are doing the best they can under difficult conditions. If that means writers have to share shelf space with colouring books, so be it. I have admiration for those working to promote new and established writers in literary magazines.
WHAT IMPORTANCE DO YOU PLACE ON SOCIAL MEDIA AND DIGITAL PUBLISHING?
I’m an intensely private person. Although I have developed some writer relationships through social media, I don’t really connect with the superficiality that wide use seems to demand. I am trying to embrace it, but it doesn’t come easily or naturally to me. As far as digital publishing goes, I’m a dinosaur. I read short pieces and do much of my research online, but it has never been a goal of mine to publish an e-book. I tend to only read them when on planes. If I enjoy the book I often go out and buy the real thing. I suppose I need to evolve.
SHOULD EMERGING WRITERS LOOK BEYOND AUSTRALIA FOR OPPORTUNITIES?
I’m currently working to eliminate that particular sh word from my vocabulary. There is only the way that works for the individual in seeking to achieve their own goals.
WHICH WRITER HAS MOST INFLUENCED YOU?
There are many. About fifteen years ago when I first read Hélène Cixous in translation something clicked for me. Her section on my bookshelf is my ‘go to’ place when my writing brain is stuck, and I’m in a space of self-doubt.
WHICH OF YOUR LITERARY CONTEMPORARIES DO YOU MOST ADMIRE?
I admire everyone who puts their heart and soul into creating something beautiful with words. But in no particular order, a by no means comprehensive list: Gillian Mears, Gail Jones, Joan London, Helen Garner, Kate Grenville, Cate Kennedy, Charlotte Wood, Brenda Walker, David Malouf, Luke Davies, Kim Scott, Amanda Curtin … I’m currently utterly absorbed in Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan stories. In my fantasy writing life, like her I’d remain anonymous to everyone but my publisher.
WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY WORKING ON?
A series of colouring books. The first book is called Colour Your Way to Gut Health. I’m counting on the range becoming a massive bestseller and buying me years of writing time. But really, I’m working on several projects. One is a work of fiction shifting between times and continents. Another is a selection of essays and fiction around a particular theme. Each will die a miserable death if I speak about them further at this point.
Michelle Michau-Crawford won the ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize in 2013. Leaving Elvis and Other Stories (UWA Publishing), her first book, will be published in February 2016.