The next wave is a four-part series featuring exciting Western Australian women writers with manuscripts ready for submission or nearly there. I hope you’ll remember their names and watch out for their published work.
My final two guests are Michelle Michau-Crawford and Louise Allan.
Michelle and I share a love of short stories—and Paris. Michelle recently spent a month there, collects French literature and is currently attempting to learn French so she can read her collection. ‘Despite it being the so-called City of Love,’ she says, ‘it is my favourite place to visit alone.’ Her love affair with the city began by accident on a trip in 2008. Having been a huge Leonard Cohen fan all her life, she discovered he was performing in Lyon two weeks after a conference she was attending in Dublin. ‘I extended my trip, bought a scalped ticket and went to Lyon via Paris. I was thinking I was just going to Paris to kill time, but I fell for the city.’
Her current writing focus is short fiction, although she has also written and published poetry, articles, scripts and plays. Her story ‘Leaving Elvis’ won the prestigious ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize in 2013, and ‘Happy Haven Holiday Park’ has just been published in the current issue of Westerly. She has also won the Fortescue Poetry Prize, been commended or shortlisted for fiction and poetry in several national competitions, and been awarded an ASA mentorship.
Michelle’s manuscript—working title Elvis, and Other Losses—is ‘a collection of linked stories exploring, in part, how the the secrets and unspoken experiences that shape the lives of individuals can have intergenerational impact on family members. The stories focus on three generations from the one Australian family. By unpeeling some of the layers of various family secrets, and delving into characters’ memories, in particular, the stories make visible some of that which is often largely hidden, and explore ways in which some people, when faced with adversity, develop the capacity to cope and grow stronger, while others—at least on the surface—are apparently not so successful.’
Here is a brief extract from one story:
‘I said, what do you dream about?’
He’s still thinking of her mother when she asks that. Had him wrapped around her little finger from the outset. He sort of knew back then that he’d always take her side, even though he loved her mum more than life itself.
She shifts from foot to foot. Scraggly yellow hair tumbling free from its ribbons. Hands on bony hips. Chin jutted forwards. Just like her mum used to.
He doesn’t know what he’s supposed to say. Feed her a lie? Spin something sugar and spice? Tell her the truth, that something that he thought was fixed has broken again? Confess that he’s as weak as piss?
In the nick of time Evie saves him. Comes to the door and calls the kid out of the bedroom. Looks at him. Disappointment all over her face. Like he’s the one thing standing between her and happiness.
Louise has been working on her first novel for some time, with the kind of commitment she devoted to her former profession—medicine—and continues to devote to her role as the mother of four children. She says that at sixteen ‘if anyone had told me I would be a writer when I grew up, I would have choked on my Pepsi. At that time, I was very Maths/Science orientated, and although I loved reading and enjoyed English, I found it the most difficult of all my subjects.’
She has had two short stories published in the anthology Jukebox (Out of the Asylum Writing Group, 2013), and two short memoir pieces are forthcoming in another anthology. She observes: ‘Part of the reason for my lean pickings on the publishing side is that I don’t send anything out until I’ve sat on it for a couple of years’—which strikes me as a cautious, but wise, approach.
This year she won a Varuna Writing Fellowship—‘a magical two weeks’—to work on her manuscript, working title Ida’s Children, which is in the commercial literary genre and aimed primarily at women readers. ‘The novel is about two sisters growing up in rural Tasmania in the 1920s, and follows them through to the present day. They each have dreams, but life doesn’t give either of them what they yearn for. It’s about unfulfilled dreams and the beauty of children and music, and what happens when beauty is crushed.’
Here is a short sequence from Ida’s Children:
When I first opened the door and saw her standing there, I thought she was from a charity and collecting money. ‘Hold on a minute,’ I said. ‘I’ll get my purse.’
Before I could turn, she stepped closer, under the shade of the verandah, and slipped the sunglasses from her eyes. ‘My name is Penny Archer. I … um …’
I held the doorframe and took a few deep breaths. Settle down, Ida. I looked at her. Those eyes. A warm green. The colour of the bush, they were. So familiar it hurt. A few creases crept from the edges, but the rest of her face was smooth. She held her sunglasses in her hand, tall and elegant in a black dress that tied at the waist and fell loose about her calves.
‘Are you all right?’ she said.
I nodded, let go of the frame and stepped outside, then pulled the door behind me—I didn’t want Grace to hear.
You can also read
Part 1: Rashida Murphy and Kristen Levitzke
Part 2: Amanda Gardiner and Emily Paull
Part 3: Karen Overman and Kim Coull
32 responses to “The next wave (part 4): WA women writers to look out for”
Pingback: The next wave (part 3): WA women writers to look out for | looking up/looking down
Pingback: The next wave (part 2): WA women writers to look out for | looking up/looking down
Pingback: The next wave (part 1): WA women writers to look out for | looking up/looking down
What a lovely journey this has been, thank you Amanda. And how fitting to end this series with such lovely writing from these two amazing women. The glimpses offered make me want to say, ‘and then what happened?’
Exactly my response, Rashida. And it applies to all of you who have given us a taste of your beautiful writing—thank you!
Yes, I agree Rashida, more wonderful writing and a wonderful journey.
Reblogged this on Sesquialtera.
thanks, Will 🙂
Reblogged this on Perth Words… exploring possibilities. and commented:
In case you missed it, readers.
thanks, Frances 🙂
Reblogged this on The Writers Room.
Thanks for sharing it, Catherine 🙂
Reblogged this on hvalsang and commented:
Part IV of Amanda Curtin’s series on emerging Western Australian writers …
thanks, K 🙂
I read Michelle’s ABR prize-winning short story last year, and it stayed with me—so poignant and beautiful, not to mention topical. It’s great to learn she’s from WA!
Thank you, once again, for doing this series. I’ve enjoyed learning about everyone and reading a snippet of their work. Like Rashida, the extracts are real teasers and have left me wanting more!
My pleasure 🙂 And thanks to you all—I’ve loved reading these.
Reblogged this on rashidawritenow.
thanks, Rashida 🙂
I’ve read ‘Ida’s Children’ and it’s a truly compelling read. I can already see it on bookstore shelves and bestseller lists.
And Michelle, I read your prize-winning story in ABR and it was wonderful. Congratulations!
Enjoyed reading about both these authors, and yes, I will be waiting to read their finished works.
As will we all! Thanks, Monique 🙂
Two more wonderful extracts. It has been such a pleasure to read the work of each of these amazing writers. I look forward to attending many book launches in the future! 🙂
Yes, all amazing writers and I, too, look forward to attending many book launches soon!
Reblogged this on Kim Coull and commented:
I am re-blogging the Fourth Instalment of Amanda Curtin’s showcasing of new WA women writers. Amanda is one of Western Australia’s most gifted and successful (and beloved) writers. She is the author of two novels, Elemental (2013; shortlisted for the 2014 WA Premier’s Book Awards) and The Sinkings (2008), and a collection of short fiction, Inherited (2011) and is also a Freelance Book Editor (Accredited Editor AE), Lecturer, and the Current Fiction Editor for Westerly (amongst many other achievements and interests, not the least being her stunning photography…) For the next couple of weeks she is showcasing six women writers that make up part of the ‘next wavers’ in WA. This particular post celebrates the last two wonderful writers in the series, Michelle Michau-Crawford and Louise Allan……
Here is a link to the Second Instalment featuring Michelle Michau-Crawford and Louise Allan.
thanks for sharing the post, Kim 🙂
Pingback: The next wave: exciting news! | looking up/looking down
Pingback: Australian Women Writers Challenge—2014 wrap-up | looking up/looking down
Reblogged this on Michelle Michau-Crawford and commented:
*Gosh, I had this sitting ready to post for weeks and forgot about it until those weeks became months. I really do need to lift my game! Be sure to check out all the other ‘Next Wave’ writerprofiles too.
Pingback: The next wave: update | looking up/looking down
Pingback: 2, 2 & 2: Michelle Michau-Crawford talks about Leaving Elvis and Other Stories | looking up/looking down
Pingback: The next wave updated (part 1): Michelle Michau-Crawford and Emily Paull | looking up/looking down
Pingback: The next wave updated (part 3): Amanda Gardiner, Louise Allan and Kim Coull | looking up/looking down