16. On teaching

We talk to three writers who teach, and ask them about the ways we learn and teach writing – in community organisations, schools, colleges and universities – and the skills and knowledge writers need.

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Our guests

Penni Russon

Penni Russon writes literary fiction for children and teenagers, and her books include the award-winning Only Ever Always. She teaches creative writing at the University of Melbourne, having studied Children’s Literature at Monash University and then Professional Writing and Editing at RMIT. She has been blogging since 2006 and has recently been involved in a creative partnership with Storybird and a research project with Orygen Youth Mental Health and Headspace.

Alexis Drevikovsky

Alexis Drevikovsky is a writer and the General Manager of Writers Victoria – a major statewide writers’ centre which offers an extensive learning program. She has taught English to Mexican children, and her own writing has been published in The Age, Killings and Australian Love Stories. Alexis is currently working on a memoir.

Alison Ravenscroft

Dr Alison Ravenscroft was part of the legendary Australian feminist publishing cooperative, Sybylla Press. She now teaches in English at La Trobe University, and supervises a number of postgraduate students working on creative and critical projects. Her own fiction and academic writing has been widely published in journals and in edited collections, and her short story ‘Object Lessons’ won the Josephine Ulrich Literature Award. Her 2016 book The Postcolonial Eye considers the ways we read, see and understand race and desire.

This episode was recorded in a meeting room in a beautiful local library, where we were surrounded by young learners in homework club and older learners and readers in informal groups and classes. Perfect. If a little noisy.

Disclosure: Co-host Kelly Gardiner also teaches at La Trobe University and is a tutor at Writers Victoria.

Professor Helen C. White demonstrates how to dress for a creative writing class (University of Wisconsin, 1954)

Image sources:

University of Wisconsin Archives via Wikimedia Commons, pennirusson.com, Writers Victoria, La Trobe University

15. On knowledge

In our first live recording, at the Castlemaine State Festival, we asked two authors of nonfiction how they research complex subjects, manage their materials, and create compelling stories.

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Our guests

Robyn Annear is a history writer and Castlemaine local legend. Her books include Bearbrass: Imagining Early MelbourneNothing But Gold: The diggers of 1852, The Man Who Lost Himself: The Unbelievable Story of the Tichborne Claimant, and Fly a Rebel Flag: The Eureka Stockade. Her book A City Lost and Found: Whelan the Wrecker’s Melbourne grew out of a State Library Victoria Creative Fellowship. Robyn was also guest curator of the State Library’s exhibition Naked democracy: governing Victoria 1856-2006.

Lynne Kelly is a science writer with a background in engineering, physics, mathematics, information technology and gifted education. Her most recent book, The Memory Code and its academic counterpart, Knowledge and Power in Prehistoric Societies: orality, memory and the transmission of culture, explore oral traditions and the concept of memory spaces. Lynne has written fourteen science books, particularly for school-age readers, and a novel, Avenging Janie. Her most popular science titles include The Skeptic’s Guide to the Paranormal, Crocodile and Spiders.

Robyn Annear’s beloved Bearbrass and A City Lost and Found have recently been republished by Black Inc. Lynne Kelly’s The Memory Code is published by Allen & Unwin.

Our thanks to Castlemaine State Festival for inviting us to be part of the festival, and to our fabulous audience.

Disclosure in the spirit of historical accuracy: Kelly was possibly over-excited to be told she was appearing on the same stage as Lola Montez, having recently written Madame Montez’s dramatic performance on the Goldfields into a short story, but got the year wrong in the heat of the moment. It was 1856, not 1857. The original timber Theatre Royal in Castlemaine burned down in 1887, so it’s not exactly the same stage. But we’re just going with it.

Robyn Annear's Shoebox

Robyn Annear’s shoebox

On stage at the Theatre Royal (from left): Adele, Lynne, Robyn and Kelly. And Robyn’s famous shoe box.  The ghost of Lola Montez lurks unseen behind us. Photo by Lisa D’Onofrio. 

14. On Austen

It’s two hundred years since Jane Austen died at the age of only 41. The bicentenary will be commemorated all year with events, conferences, festivals and of course books.

We spoke to two writers about Austen’s legacy and her influence on them – and on so many of us.

 

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Our guestseea666bc-6af7-460c-ba36-c2f7a282ab77-5359-000004e3e1e28c0d_tmp

Alison Goodman’s most recent novel is The Dark Days Pact, the second in the Lady Helen trilogy of supernatural Regency adventures. The first book, The Dark Days Club, was an NPR Best Book of 2016, and the third volume is on the way.

Alison is also the author of the award winning and New York Times bestselling duology EON and EONA, Singing the Dogstar Blues and an adult thriller, A New Kind of Death.

You can read about Alison’s Regency research on her website.

 

 

Book cover Digital Afterlives

Kylie Mirmohamadi is a researcher at La Trobe University who specialises in cultural and literary studies. She has written extensively on literary sensations from Lady Audley’s Secret to Dickens to Harry Potter.

Her book The Digital Afterlives of Jane Austen: Janeites at the Keyboard, looks at the world of online Jane Austen fan fiction.

 

 

 

 

Jane Austen was born in 1775 and her first novel, Sense and Sensibility, was published in 1811, followed in quick succession by Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814) and Emma (1815). Two other novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, were published posthumously.

Jennifer Ehle as Lizzie and David Bamber as Mr Collins in the 1995 series of Pride and Prejudice

Jennifer Ehle as Lizzy and David Bamber as Mr Collins in the 1995 series of Pride and Prejudice

Austen 200 events include:

13. On sounds

 We talk to two powerful poets and performers who work across and beyond a range of narrative and performative forms and traditions.

 

Unladylike caught up with Natalia Molebatsi and Phillippa Yaa de Villiers on a recent visit to South Africa.

 

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Our guests

 natalia
Natalia Molebatsi is a writer and poet who has appeared throughout Africa, Europe and
the USA. Her performances and recordings, often with her band The Soul Making, combine poetry with with jazz, funk and hip hop.
Her first collection  was Sardo Dance (Ge’ko Publishing, 2012), and her work appears in anthologies such as Letter to South Africa: Poets Calling the State to OrderHappiness the Delight-Tree: An Anthology of Contemporary International PoetryNew Coin, and the Anthology of World Poetry, and in academic journals. Nathalia edited We Are: A Poetry Anthology published by Penguin, and has run creative writing workshops all over the world.
Her performances available on CD include Come as you are: Poems for Four Strings (also on Spotify) and Natalia Molebatsi & The Soul Making.
You can read and hear some of Natalia’s poetry on Badilisha Poetry Exchange or watch her in performance on YouTube.

 

Phillippa Yaa de Villiers is a writer and performance artist. She has written for television and the stage, and in 2014  was the Commonwealth Poet, performing at Westminster Abbey in the presence of 2000 representatives of the Commonwealth and the Royal Family.
Her collections of poetry are Taller than Buildings (Centre for the Book, 2006) and The Everyday Wife (Modjadji Books, 2010). She edited No Serenity Here, an anthology of African poetry,  and her writing has been widely published in journals and anthologies. Her plays include Where the Children Live, and the autobiographical one-woman show, Original Skin, which toured  in South Africa and abroad.
Like much of her work, Original Skin centres on Phillippa’s negotiation of  her identity. The daughter of an Australian mother and a Ghanaian father, she was given up for adoption at nine months of age, and brought up by her adoptive parents, a white family in apartheid South Africa. She didn’t discover she was adopted until she was 20 years old. Since then she has lived and studied in France and England, returning to South Africa to teach creative writing.

 
Image of Phillippa

 

You can read and hear some of Phillippa’s work on Badilisha Poetry Exchange or the Poetry Archive. There’s an extract from her performance of Original Skin on YouTube.

 

Be warned: Bad music alert
The fusion of sound and words in these interviews is unintentional – we recorded one interview in a pub, so please forgive the background noise (including the worst song ever written). It does improve as it goes on. We promise to never record near cutlery again.

 

Our thanks to Professor Deirdre Byrne of the University of South Africa’s Institute for Gender Studies for arranging the interviews,  asking a question or two of Phillippa, and taking Kelly to see giraffes.

12. On labels

Labels? Why do we have them? We talk to two authors about the labels they choose for themselves, their characters and their place within the industry, as well as those that they reject.

Join Anita Heiss and Jessica Walton as they discuss labels, identity and writing.

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About our guests

large_anita_heiss_small_Dr Anita Heiss is a member of the Wiradjuri nation of central New South Wales and is one of Australia’s most prolific and well-known Indigenous writers.

She writes fiction, poetry and nonfiction, and her books include Am I Black Enough For You? – a memoir on identity, the poetry collections Token Koori and I’m not racist, but… and books for kids: Yirra and her deadly dog Demon, Me and My Mum, Matty’s Comeback,  and  the recent  Kicking Goals with Magic and Goodsey.

Anita edited Life in Gadigal Country and co-edited The Macquarie PEN Anthology of Aboriginal Literature  and Stories Without End.

Her novels include Manhattan Dreaming, Not Meeting Mr Right, Avoiding Mr Right, Tiddas, and her new book, Barbed Wire and Cherry Blossoms.

She is Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Western Sydney attached to the Badanami Centre for Indigenous Education.


6j1q_ikwJessica Walton
describes herself as a writer, cancer survivor, amputee, queer, daughter of a trans parent, feminist and teacher. As well as picture books, Jess writes about disability, LGBTI issues, and the intersections between her disabled and queer experiences. She is a sensitivity reader for manuscripts featuring amputee and queer characters, and reviews published books with amputee characters.

Jess’s first book, Introducing Teddy, was published earlier this year.

Barbed Wire and Cherry Blossoms is published by Simon and Schuster. Introducing Teddy: a gentle story about gender and friendship is published by Bloomsbury.

11. On research

What does it take to recreate past worlds? How does a writer uncover the reality she needs to blend with imagination? Where do research and writing intersect?

We talk to two writers who’ve spent years researching and writing novels about the lives of real women from the past: Hannah Kent and Kate Mildenhall.

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About our guests

Hannah Kent’s first novel, Burial Rites, was an international bestseller and Photo of Hannah Kenthas been translated into 28 languages. It won the ABIA Literary Fiction Book of the Year, the Indie Awards Debut Fiction Book of the Year and the Victorian Premier’s People’s Choice Award, and was shortlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Bailey’s Prize.

Her second novel, The Good People, is just out in Australia and New Zealand will be published in 2017 in the UK, Ireland and North America.
Hannah is also the co-founder and publishing director of Australian literary journal, Kill Your Darlings.

 

Photo of Kate MildenhallKate Mildenhall is a teacher and writer – she has taught in schools and universities, and worked at the State Library of Victoria, creating web content for students and teachers.
Kate is studying Professional Writing and Editing at RMIT University.

Her first novel, Skylarking, has just been published.

 

 

Burial Rites and The Good People are published by Picador (Macmillan) in Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Ireland, and Little, Brown in the US. Skylarking is published by Black Inc in Australia and New Zealand, and will be published by Legend Press in the UK in 2017.

Book cover of The Good People

Book cover of Skylarking