Writing The Starlings

The Starlings isn’t just about football (at least I hope it isn’t), but football is at its heart. This is odd, because football hasn’t been a big part of my life. I’ve always been that awkward anomaly – a Melburnian without a footy team. When I was a child my father was a Melbourne supporter. He (and sometimes my brother, who went for South Melbourne) would go off to the MCG together, wrapped up in coats and carrying rugs and thermoses and sandwiches and thick slices of my mother’s excellent fruit cake. It was a man thing. My mother and I were never invited, and we didn’t wish to be. It took me years to become interested in AFL footy, and longer still before I…

Continue reading

Writing Cooee

People often ask whether writers write according to a plan, whether they know at the beginning how the characters will develop, how the story will unspool. In the case of Cooee, the answer is a theoretical yes. When I started to write, I had a pretty clear notion of the plot, and the characters were relatively clear in my mind. I knew where I was going. Sort of. In writing as in life, however, things are rarely simple, and I hadn’t bargained for the extent to which my central character took hold of the book and of me. By the time I was halfway through the book I felt as if I was wrestling Isabel, and I wasn’t winning. She was turning into a loose…

Continue reading

Why Write?

Writers are like farmers. We’re always complaining. I have a brother-in- law who’s a farmer. I once said to him, ‘John, don’t you ever stop grumbling?’ And he said, very proudly, ‘No, never, because I’m a farmer, and we have to be allowed to grumble.’ Well, writers have to be allowed to grumble, too. So far as farmers go, it’s too wet, or it’s too dry; too hot, or too cold; too soon or too late. Well, writers are just the same. The novel’s too short, or it’s too long. There are too many characters; or, wait, no, there aren’t enough characters. The plot’s too obvious, or it’s too tenuous. The deadline’s always too soon. And, whatever you do, don’t get us started on reviews.…

Continue reading