Hometown: Austinmer, NSW, Australia
Writing From: Brisbane, QLD, Australia
Education: I studied journalism and creative writing at Charles Sturt University for my undergrad degree, did an Honours year later at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) – and then later again completed a Doctorate of Creative Arts through UTS.
Briefly: I’ve published two novels (The Railwayman’s Wife in 2013 and The Body in the Clouds in 2010). Someone asked me recently if I’d always been interested in infrastructure history; someone else asked me if I’d always been interested in industrial accidents, and I hadn’t realized either was true. But The Railwayman’s Wife is partly about the death of a train guard, and The Body in the Clouds is partly about a man who falls off the Sydney Harbour Bridge during its construction – so perhaps there is a theme emerging …
I’ve also written four non-fiction books – three of which were ended up exploring various collectors and their obsessions with natural history (Gum, 2002; Herbarium, 2004; Museum, 2007) – and one which was about Lord Byron’s brief and dubious marriage (The Secret, 2000). I’ve been writing journalism for more than 20 years, and have had work anthologized in journals and collections including Best Australian Essays, Best Australian Short Stories and Best Australian Science Writing.
Pet Peeves: Reviews that give away a book’s twist or its denouement. I read a review of Bernhard Schlink’s The Reader that revealed its end, which dramatically diminished the experience I could have of reading the book itself.
If You Weren’t a Writer You’d Be… at a loose end. I’ve never had a job that wasn’t to do with words – writing them, commissioning them, editing them. I used to joke about giving it all up to become a train driver, but given the narrative arc of The Railwayman’s Wife (and its roots in an appropriated piece of my own family’s history), that might not be the safest idea.
What You Have Lined Up Next: I’m working on a novel set in Brisbane that spans the 1960s and now, and I’m also very excited to be editing the 2014 Best Australian Science Writing Anthology.
Do you think you were born to be a writer?
When I was little I wanted to be a flight attendant (until I realized I was too short) and a teacher (until I realized I was too shy). I was always interested in writing but I didn’t know how to go about being a writer, so I enrolled for a journalism degree. I thought if I could find work as Continue reading