For Overland’s 60th year, fiction editor Jen Mills has asked four contemporary writers to respond – with fiction – to a story from their archives. I chose Josephina Anna Maria by Katherine Susannah Prichard, first published in Overland 12, 1958.
It’s a lovely thing: contained and emotive, with striking images. The wet dirt, the tiny, bare hut, and the bright “animal eyes” of the baby, Josephina, stayed with me for some time. From it, I took ideas of exchange; disturbed earth; the silence of women; burial sites; migration, and I wrote a story about a girl and some lizards.
The cool kids at Scum Mag have published a 1000 word story of mine called After We Left. It’s a story about going back to your hometown, and sleeping with Snow White.
I’ve been quite taken with shorter short stories recently. I have found myself writing, and then editing down a lot more than I used to – erring on the side of impressionistic rather than explicit.
I think this has everything to do with the Collected Amy Hempel I managed to get for $3 at a second hand bookstore recently. Have you read anything by her? Go do so right now. Start with In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson Is Buried.
“If you walk down the street, in New York, for a few blocks you get this gargantuan feeling of buildings and if you walk all day you’ll be on the verge of tears. But you have to walk all day to get that sensation. What I mean is, if you write all day you’ll get into it, into your body, into your feelings, into your consciousness…” – Allen Ginsberg
This is becoming more and more relevant to me. And the more I remember it, the easier it is to find the time, and the space, to let myself write. To let myself read. To let myself wander through other people’s work until I’m on the verge of tears.
I was lucky enough to be interviewed recently by the lovely Ryan O’Neill. He is running a series called ‘Anatomy of a Story’ in which writers discuss the inspiration and process behind on of their published pieces. I talked about my Overland story, Frank O’Hara’s Animals and the fact that it was inspired by a ten year old episode of Charmed. Read it here>
Really chuffed to say that I’ll be in Best Australian Stories 2013. I’ve been reading these anthologies for years and years – it’s an honour and a thrill to be included. Thanks so much to Kim Scott and Black Inc!
When I wrote Frank O’Hara’s Animals I really had no idea how it would do out there in the world. A non-linear, fragmented magical realism story about a nine year old girl who can stop time? I wasn’t sure of her chances.
To see that story in Overland was amazing – to have it anthologised twice now is the icing on this pretty brilliant cake.
Best Australian Stories 2013 will be out in November. Check out the other contributors.
Guys! I’m going to be in a book. Rather, my magical realism, time-stop story Frank O’Hara’s Animals is going to be in a book. This is my first proper book, which is pretty exciting. And, honestly, appearing in a publication alongside Margo Lanagan is one of those moments that brings you closer to dying happy. Read more about the stellar line up here.
Have I mentioned that the ever-brilliant Critical Animals have actually given me a public forum? I will be combining my love of pop music, feminism, and story-telling to present a paper currently titled Gaga at the Gate: five scenes from mythology at this year’s This is Not Art festival in Newcastle. This is the abstract:
Sexual and racial anxiety is clearly evident in both the oldest of our myths and the newest of our pop stars. Of mythology, it is particularly apparent in the origin stories of monsters, and the circumstances and punishment of the women who birthed them. It is here that we find striking parallels with Lady Gaga: the pop star who was named mother monster by her fans. In the realm of Lady Gaga, origins recur forever. Just as The Fame anticipated The Fame Monster, The Fame Monster anticipated Born This Way: the earliest known definition of monster equates it to birth defect.
We can see the geneses of Gaga’s multiple performances/births in the stories of other mothers and other monsters. My paper will use feminist analysis to creatively explore five scenes from mythology, and their parallels with the music and performances of Lady Gaga. It will focus on the mothers of monsters: Lillith, Medusa, Pasiphae, Grendel’s Mother, and the virgin Mary, and it will offer a new definition of fame as a shared and potentially empowering space, more accessible in 2013 than ever before.
Currently taking suggestions on what I should wear to present.