Last fortnight guest racer Jarryd Luke joined us for the writing races, logging in all the way from tropical North Queensland. Jarryd writes surreal short stories, holds a PhD in creative writing from the Queensland University of Technology, and is Director of the Townsville Writers and Publishers Centre.
Here are some of the insights Jarryd offered…
…on how moving to North Queensland has influenced his writing…
It has been a big change! I moved up here last January from Brisbane and started reading books set in NQ, like Thea Astley’s Hunting the Wild Pineapple and Alex Miller’s Journey to the Stone Country. I wish I could write about the tropical landscape as well as Astley does!
I’m really enjoying working at the Townsville Writers Centre, because there is a small but tightly-knit art scene here. People are very open to collaboration because it’s less competitive, so it’s easier to get ideas for projects off the ground.
I did write a story last year set in a fictional NQ town that was hit by a Yasi-esque cyclone. That story was equally inspired by the experience of helping my parents clean out underneath their house after the Brisbane floods.
Living in a new place throws up a lot of ideas, but it can also be hard to write about it authentically. I don’t exactly think I’m a ‘local’ yet. Some people say you need to have been born here. Some say you should have two generations in the ground.
…on researching for a story…
Most of the time I start a story with an image or idea, rather than research. I tend to do bits and pieces of research as I go along, and then, once I have a pretty solid idea about what the story will be about, I go back and research more thoroughly.
…on the surreal situations his characters find themselves in…
Most of my stories are set in current day Australia, but I try to bend the rules of realism a bit by putting the characters into situations that are possible but not probable. For example, one of my stories is about a pair of brothers who stow away in an old Queenslander that’s been cut and half and is being driven across the state on the back of a truck. I thought of that story when I was looking through some old photos at my girlfriend’s parents’ house. Their house was driven from Brisbane city to Gatton a few years ago.
Some of my stories also have science fiction elements. One is about a guy whose job is to create virtual reality simulations of traumatic situations as a form of therapy for people with PTSD.
…on his most recent collaborative project…
We just finished a project for the Bohemian Masquerade Ball, a multi-arts event held in a large car park in the city. The organisers challenged us to work outside our comfort zone, so we teamed up with a digital expert and aerial dancers. Our project was to ask people to write a love letter to a person, place or thing on an iPad. We then projected the letters onto sheets of silk held by the dancers, who were hanging from a crane. It was totally different to what I’ve done before and I’m really glad I got the chance to experiment.
I do think I prefer editing stories to fiddling around with projectors though.
…on the editing process…
After I’ve finished a first draft I usually put the story aside for a month or two. I ask someone to read it and then I edit based on their suggestions. Then I do a few more edits over more weeks and months, usually before I enter the story into a competition. If I enter the story into enough competitions, it will eventually be edited down to a form that I’m happy with (even if it doesn’t win anything).
I think I over-edit sometimes. It’s hard to tell when to stop. I used to edit very carefully as I went, so I had to really train myself to let go when I was writing a first draft.
If you would like to learn more about the Townsville Writers and Publishers Centre, visit their website.
THIS WEEK’S RACE: CANDICE FOX
I’m excited to announce that our special guest racer for this week’s writing race will be Candice Fox. Candice is a Sydney-based crime fiction author and academic. Her debut novel, Hades, won this year’s Ned Kelly Award for Best Crime Fiction. Her second novel in the series, Eden, is due for release in Australia this December.
Candice Fox is the middle child of a large, eccentric family from Sydney’s western suburbs composed of half-, adopted and pseudo siblings. The daughter of a parole officer and an enthusiastic foster-carer, Candice spent her childhood listening around corners to tales of violence, madness and evil as her father relayed his work stories to her mother and older brothers.
As a cynical and trouble-making teenager, her crime and gothic fiction writing was an escape from the calamity of her home life. She was constantly in trouble for reading Anne Rice in church and scaring her friends with tales from Australia’s wealth of true crime writers.
Bankstown born and bred, she failed to conform to military life in a brief stint as an officer in the Royal Australian Navy at age eighteen. At twenty, she turned her hand to academia, and taught high school through two undergraduate and two postgraduate degrees. Candice lectures in writing at the University of Notre Dame, Sydney, while undertaking a PhD in literary censorship and terrorism.
To pick Candice’s brain, join us for the writing race at 8pm tonight.
To learn more about Candice, visit her website.
To find out what a writing race is, visit our writing race page.
Want to know more about Hades?
Then one night a man arrives on his doorstep, clutching a small bundle that he wants ‘lost’. And Hades makes a decision that will change everything…
Twenty years later, homicide detective Frank Bennett feels like the luckiest man on the force when he meets his new partner, the dark and beautiful Eden Archer. But there’s something strange about Eden and her brother, Eric. Something he can’t quite put his finger on.
At first, as they race to catch a very different kind of serial killer, his partner’s sharp instincts come in handy. But soon Frank’s wondering if she’s as dangerous as the man they hunt.