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The Airways is longlisted for the Miles Franklin

Well, this is excellent news for The Airways – a Miles Franklin longlisting is not to be sneezed at. Many thanks to the judges, to everyone at Picador Australia, and to you, my dear readers. Big congratulations to the rest of these brilliant writers, and hurrah for my agent Martin Shaw who has not one but two authors on this list!

A couple of things have happened since my last post, including an election with a very strong message on climate action – about time! It’s also a moment for reflecting on what we’ve learned from the last rather long nine years, and in that spirit I wrote a piece for Meanjin about the way forward for arts and culture – not just more funding, but structural change that prioritises (you guessed it) fair pay for artists and writers. Read it here:

It’s Time… To Demand Fair Pay in the Arts

Thanks to Vitalstatistix for the residency, which buys me time to think and write more about labour issues this year, as well as getting to do other fun stuff such as interview artists and be involved in strategic planning (hey, it’s narrative therapy for organisations, what’s not to like).

I’ve also been busy running my Writers SA course First Draft, reviewing books over at Australian Book Review, and publishing a new short story in The Saturday Paper – both these publications are paywalled but worth the $ if you can afford it. And finding time to do some serious work on the WIP, too.

Some interesting developments are happening with the MEAA Freelance campaign, but I think that’s enough for today – just a reminder that you can still sign on to endorse the Freelance Charter and join over 500 freelancers now taking action!


Writing for tomorrow

Due to popular demand my address to the Living Landscapes festival, ‘Writing for Tomorrow,’ is now free to read online at Vitalstatistix. Thanks again to Writers SA and City of Port Adelaide Enfield for the invitation to speak, and to all who were involved with this wonderful event at Yerta Bulti. Thanks also to Vitals for sharing the text on their website.


Aurealis Awards (and more)

Happy news today: The Airways has been shortlisted for the Aurealis awards! This is my second book to be shortlisted for an Aurealis and my first in the category of horror. Being between all the things – genre included – means you sometimes slip through the cracks, so it is really wonderful to see this book resonating with horror readers. A huge thank you to the judges and volunteers, and congratulations to all the finalists.


March madness is over for another year. I had a wonderful Writers Week and the podcasts for all my events are now available via the website. Scroll through the list or search by my name.

I had the pleasure of being interviewed by one of my favourite literary citizens, Sophie Cunningham, and was delighted to interview two other brilliant writers: Joelle Taylor and Yves Rees. Here are a few photos from those events:

Highly recommend both their books, All about Yves and C+nto and Othered Poems. Really looking forward to Sophie’s new one, This Devastating Fever, too.

This Saturday I’m giving an address at another festival – Living Landscapes, a new event run by Port Adelaide/Enfield council. Saturday’s talks will be held at Hart’s Mill in Port Adelaide. Come along for an excellent day of discussion about writing and nature and stay for what promises to be a fun evening with music from Naomi Keyte and bar by the local brewers.

And speaking of festivals, if you’re in Naarm (Melbourne) look out for Spectra: Multipicity on the 20-23 April – a very cool combination of art, science, and science fiction. I loved returning to Assembly for the Future as an artist/moderator in the first online portion of this event (you can check out our Dispatches via that link) and am looking forward to heading east and coming along to some live events.

True to the many-roles-many-genres form of my working life, I’ve published a few other pieces of writing since my last post. A longform essay in the Sydney Review of Books, ‘The Trouble with (non)Violence’, looks at a couple of recent books on non-violent direct action, amid the demands of the climate crisis; I have a piece in Overland about a Basic Income for the Arts, which I’ve been researching as part of my residency at Vitalstatistix; and also some new short fiction in Meanjin called ‘The Funeral,’ set in an imagined future which is a little bit bleak, a little bit hopeful, and very queer.

Between all this I’ve also been busy working with my union on the Freelance Charter – I’ve written a bit more about that here, but essentially it’s a way to empower freelancers, especially writers, to negotiate collectively for better pay and conditions, and I’m very excited about it. If you’re a writer you can endorse the charter at freelancers.org.au. We’re now starting to implement it, with negotiations open at several media outlets. Tell your friends, and join your union!


Think/write/talk/teach/organise!

So 2022 has had time to settle in and is starting to take a pretty exciting shape. A few announcements:

The first is that I’m joining the team at VITALSTATISTIX as Artist in Residence for 2022. I’ll be writing, thinking and doing some advocacy/activism on the issues of art/writing and precarious labour, participating in the Bodies of Work multi-year initiative, and contributing to the amazing work Vitalstatistix does through programming, documentation, and imagination. This is a symbiotic collaboration and an experiment in itself; the residency is a salaried position, made possible by recent Arts Recovery funding from the SA government. Direct employment of artists is very rare, so it’s great to be able to test the model and see what works. (For more on why this matters, I recommend this excellent piece by Lauren Carroll Harris). Keep an eye out for more – I’ll be updating regularly here and at the Vitals website throughout the year.

As a member of the National Freelance Committee at my union, MEAA, I am very happy that this afternoon we will be launching and voting to endorse the Freelance Charter. This is a big step in organising freelancers and campaigning for our rights at work! A group of us have been working on this behind the scenes for a few years, so it’s very exciting to see change happening. Freelancers are now better represented at MEAA than ever, including being recently elected to all levels of leadership. It’s a huge shift and the Freelance Charter will be a game changer for those of us in precarious work in media and the arts.

If you’re any kind of freelancer I hope to see you at the meeting – voting to officially endorse the charter is restricted to MEAA members but the meeting is open to all freelancers. If you can’t make it, you can still get involved and of course, join.

Meanwhile, festival season is about to wash over us here on Kaurna yerta. I am looking forward to being a part of Adelaide Writers Week, along with a fantastic lineup. My main session, discussing The Airways with Sophie Cunningham, will be on Saturday 5th March at 9:30am (just after the beloved Skywhales grace the air nearby). I am also chairing sessions with Joelle Taylor and Yves Rees – incredible humans and writers that you won’t want to miss. Come along!

AND if you’re writing a book yourself, and craving some structure/feedback/support/community, do sign up for First Draft, a Writers SA course that I will be facilitating over eight fortnightly sessions, starting on March 9th. Due to Covid concerns we have moved this course online, which means that you can access it from anywhere in Australia or indeed the world – places are limited though, so sign up via the Writers SA website before you miss out. It’s a great opportunity to learn, share skills and build a community of writers around you.

In the spaces between, work on a new book of my own is taking place and taking shape – very much strengthened and nourished by all of the above…