Tag Archives: Emily Paull

The next wave updated (part 1): Michelle Michau-Crawford and Emily Paull

Two years ago, looking up/looking down presented a series on Western Australian women writers to watch out for. As I wrote then:

There’s so much creative energy among writers on the western edge—some of it being nurtured in university writing programs, some finding inspiration and support through writers centres, some brewing entirely independently. This four-part series features eight WA women who are part of that creative flurry. All of them have a manuscript ready, or nearly ready, to submit to agents and publishers, and I hope we’ll be hearing a lot more from them in the future.

It’s a true pleasure to observe the evolution of a creative life, and I’m delighted to present an update on what some of them have been doing. Here’s how Michelle Michau-Crawford and Emily Paull responded to an invitation to review their last two years of writing…

Michelle Michau-Crawford

MichelleLR-2

When I was invited in November 2014 to be one of the featured writers on The Next Wave series, I had just returned from one month in Paris. While there I worked on a manuscript with a working title I had completely forgotten existed until revisiting Amanda’s blog series earlier this week. I spent much of the summer of 2014–15 locked away, further developing that manuscript, and in the early months of 2015, while it wasn’t quite complete, I felt ready to commit to signing a contract with my preferred publishing house, UWA Publishing.

12218707_10153761607677079_2142340854_o (1)Leaving Elvis and Other Stories was published just under twelve months later, in February 2016, in time for the Perth Writers Festival. That introduction to the reality of being a published author in contemporary times was far removed from my imagined writing life: living on a secluded island, quietly sending my writing out via boat or seaplane.

I decided early that I would be open to all the experiences that arose as a result of my first full-length publication. After all, as I noted when the fabulous Julia Lawrinson launched my book, I had served a 20-plus-years writing apprenticeship before I felt ready to share my stories. The six-month period post-publication whirled by, challenging and invigorating me.

As well as participating on the two panels at the Perth Writers Festival, I spoke at a literary high tea, at writers’ centres and in various bookshops and libraries. I travelled to several country writers’ festivals, facilitated workshops and was interviewed in those venues, and for various newspaper and online features. I had an on-camera interview in a television studio, something that I never envisioned as I worked at writing, but after the first few awkward minutes (where I forgot what my book was about), I managed to almost enjoy the experience.

I was fortunate enough to have my work reviewed favourably locally and nationally in the mainstream media, judged a writing competition, and overall had a hectic but stimulating publication year. I met many readers and connected with a number of writers I hadn’t known prior to publication, and discovered that no matter how established Australian writers are, they are by and large incredibly generous and supportive of fellow authors.

My biggest thrill throughout the year came after receiving the first letter penned (or typed, in this case) by a reader: a man who’d driven a long way to hear me talk, had bought the book and read it and then taken time to send me a personal letter saying the book had resonated deeply with him. It affirmed what I already knew: that as satisfying as the other attention and experiences may be, I write to communicate via the written word with readers, not to be known as a public figure. Talking to people who’ve taken the time to engage with my writing remains the most rewarding gift to flow from publication of my first book.

In August I organised an event-free month and took the opportunity to refocus on writing. I had been chipping away at some other writing while completing and promoting my book but hadn’t felt I had sufficient headspace to truly engage with it. So I waved goodbye to Elvis and went away for two weeks to Varuna, the National Writers’ House, in the Blue Mountains, where I managed to make significant progress towards my next project. On my return I had several more public events culminating in a brilliant weekend at the inaugural Australian Short Story Festival held in Perth in October. I am now back at work on my current writing project, one I cannot speak about at this stage for fear of jinxing further development!

Other than that, some of the things I spoke of in that initial Next Wave feature remain the same. I had hoped to return about now to spend time in Paris, for I choose to believe that regular time in Paris helps me write more effectively. However, life’s circumstances conspired to keep me closer to home. If I’d been there at the time I had intended, then Leonard Cohen—the great artist I’ve adored since childhood; the man who’d unknowingly led me to Paris in the first place—would have died while I was far from home. Between dealing with that and processing the result of the long and ugly US election, curled up at home under a blanket was really the only place to be last week. On a brighter note, I have resumed attempting to learn to speak and read French, and stubbornly refuse to concede defeat. One day I will read more, though probably not all, of those French texts I have collected over the years!

Michelle’s website
Facebook page

Emily Paull

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What a difference two years makes.

iphone-july-2016-086Since I was featured as one of Amanda’s WA women writers to watch out for, a lot of things have changed. Some of them were good changes—such as, for example, having short stories published in two anthologies. My story ‘A Thousand Words’ was published in the UK in a collection called [Re]Sisters, and I was lucky enough to have a story called ‘The Sea Also Waits’ selected by editor Laurie Steed to be a part of the Margaret River Press anthology Shibboleth and Other Stories.

When I last wrote for this blog, I was about to begin my time as one of three Young Writers in Residence at the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre—those ten days were probably some of the most productive of my life, and I managed to revise a whopping 40,000 words of Between the Sleepers, a historical novel set in Fremantle between 1937 and 1945. Part of this residency was a consultation with Amanda Curtin on the first 50 pages of my book, and her guidance on some of the early issues in the novel has really helped me clarify its direction as a whole.

In early 2016 I began sending the novel to agents, and started work on another project: finishing my Graduate Diploma in Professional Writing and Publishing, which I took online at Deakin University.

I currently have two writing projects on the go. One is another historical novel, which I have tentatively titled The Turing Project. It is the story of Clementine, a university student who throws herself into researching the wartime cryptanalyst Alan Turing after the suicide of her childhood best friend. The novel alternates between Clementine’s story, set in the early 2000s, and Alan Turing’s story, which many people may be familiar with now due to the film The Imitation Game. This novel began its life as a NaNoWriMo project back in 2009 (National Novel Writing Month, where you challenge yourself to write 50,000 words in 30 days). Writing about people who existed and whose stories are well known presents a challenge in itself, but I am enjoying throwing myself into this world and learning about my new characters.

iphone-july-2016-144My other writing project is a collection of short stories, which is currently titled Well-Behaved Women. It so far consists of ‘The Sea Also Waits’ (from Shibboleth and Other Stories), ‘Dora’ (Highly Commended in the 2016 Hadow/Stuart Award for Fiction) and ‘Miss Lovegrove’, which was shortlisted for the John Marsden/Hachette Australia Award for Young Writers at the end of 2015. I’ve been a fan of short story collections for a long time, and I hope that my collection can find a place in the incredibly high standard of collections currently being published in Australia.

I mentioned that while some of the changes were good, some were not so good. For those readers who live in Perth, you may already know that my beloved Bookcaffe closed its doors at the end of June 2016. While we’ve been seeing for a long time that the bookselling industry is changing, and that people are tending to buy more and more of their books at cheap online retailers, I never wanted to experience this downturn firsthand…but there I was, clearing shelves and adopting as many of the unsold books as I could so that I knew they would be going to a home where they would be read (eventually) and loved. I still work in a bookish job—I am a sales representative at Westbooks, where I visit public libraries and make sure they have all the best new releases, and I am also doing freelance work such as teaching seminars at this year’s All Saints College Storylines Festival.

In general, despite some of the bizarre and depressing things that have happened this year, it seems like 2016 has been a year of progress for me, and one in which I have learned a lot about myself as a writer. I think the most important thing is that I have finally taken on board a piece of advice that was given to me by Craig Silvey a number of years ago, something which has taken this long to become innate. When I asked Craig what advice he had for someone who wanted to become a writer, his answer was something like this: You don’t become a writer, you are a writer, every day, and in everything that you do. That feels truer to me now than it ever has before, and I am just grateful to be putting my words on pages, never knowing if anyone will ever read them or not.

Emily’s blog: The Incredible Rambling Elimy

 

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The next wave (part 2): WA women writers to look out for

picisto-20141127082720-542876Welcome to part 2 of this four-part series featuring emerging Western Australian women writers with manuscripts ready—or almost ready—to submit to agents and publishers. In this post my guests are Amanda Gardiner and Emily Paull.

Photo on 2014-08-05 at 15.49 #3_2Amanda Gardiner

If a wide range of life experiences gives a writer great source material, Amanda already has a store that should last her forever. ‘I have been an au pair, a FIFO at a gold mine, a shelf stacker, and a lecturer, tutor and researcher at university.  I have worn tiny shorts and a too-small t-shirt and served food and drinks to rich people on a luxury yacht. I have been an apprentice painter and decorator and an actor. I have edited a journal and a book. I house-sat for three and a half years and moved over 30 times. I have sold antique jewellery, presented my research at conferences, organised symposia, and worked in admin, as an interviewer and oral historian, a production assistant in a film company, a caterer, a mystery shopper and a waitress. I am not sure that my varied employment history will help future job applications…’

She also has a collector’s eye for the unique and a writer’s alertness to the uncanny: ‘I recently visited the new markets that are filling the old Myer space in Fremantle and saw a beautiful pair of crystal and silver perfume bottles. As I knew that I must not, under any circumstances, purchase them, I carried them over to the saleswoman to ask if she could tell me their story. She did not know much, other than they were turn of the last century and wasn’t the engraving wonderful? I resolutely returned the bottles to their shelf, but as I walked away I thought, it wouldn’t hurt to have a closer look at the engraving. I held them up near the window and as the metal glinted in the light I realised the bottles were elaborately monogrammed with the letters “AG”. So now I own two very practical cut crystal perfume bottles that had my initials etched into them over a hundred years ago.’

Amanda’s short fiction has been published in an anthology by the 2013 Peter Cowan Advanced Writers’ cohort, and she has published various academic articles. Here is how Amanda describes her manuscript—working title Unearthing Mary Summerland: ‘On the 4th of September 1832, the body of a newborn baby boy was found washed up on the shore at the port town of Fremantle, Western Australia. As the result of an inquest into the child’s suspicious death, a 20-year-old unmarried domestic servant named Mary Summerland was accused of murdering him. Unearthing Mary Summerland is a work of literary fiction that blends history and imagination to explore what may have happened to Mary and her son.’

And here is a brief extract from the novel:

Despite the cold, the smell is very strong. It unfurls from the remains on the table to push rotten meat into Susannah Summerland’s face. Susannah begins to take thin breaths through her mouth, sealing off the end of each inhalation with the pink press of tongue to palate before exhaling through her nose. The other people in the room, the three men and Mary, do not speak, and Susannah continues breathing in this way, listening to the ocean moving back and forth across the rocks at the cliff-base of Bather’s Bay, until the Rev. looks up from his chair and asks again,

‘Do you recognise the child?’

Susannah is standing. Rev. Wittenoom and Mary’s master Mr. Leake are seated across from her, on the other side of the table. To her left the doctor Harrison guards the inner doorway. To her right her daughter sits waiting on a low stool. The dead baby lies in the centre of all of them.

emily paull with giant teacupEmily Paull

If you asked a room full of writers what their dream job would be—if they weren’t writing, of course—there’s sure to be a few who would say ‘working in a bookshop’. Emily has one of those enviable day jobs. ‘I’m very lucky to work as an independent bookseller, for two reasons,’ she says. ‘The first is that I have an outlet for doing my bit to advance the profile of Western Australian writing, which is a passion of mine. The second is that every day when I come to work, I am confronted by visual reminders of why I am doing what I am doing. Every day I see, read and talk about great books, and I am reminded of where I want to go in life, and why it’s worth all the hard work.’

When she’s not collecting books, Emily is collecting ‘coffee and tea mugs, and the assorted paraphernalia that goes with them.’ But writing occupies much of the rest of her time. Emily was regularly published in the Murdoch University magazine METIOR 2009–11, and in 2010 had her own fiction column, ‘Life with the dull parts taken out’.

Her stories have been published on Murdoch University’s website as part of the creative arts showcase, and she has been published in Trove. In 2011 she won the Katharine Susannah Prichard Short Fiction Award (under 20s category), and she is about to begin a Young Writer in Residence program at the KSP Writers Centre—something she describes as ‘probably the coolest opportunity writing has given me’.

Emily’s manuscript—working title Between the Sleepers—is a historical romance intended for adult/young adult readers: ‘The story begins in 1937 when Winston Keller, a member of the working class with a secret talent for sketching, meets the daughter of Perth’s newest business tycoon at a family dinner. The dinner is supposed to be a chance for Robert Willis and George Keller to reconnect after many years estranged, although Robert only seems interested in rubbing his wealth in his old friend’s face. But there is an unexpected consequence—Winston and Sarah Willis fall in love. Their relationship forces Winston into a world of jazz music, adultery and, ultimately, war.’

Here is a taste of Between the Sleepers:

Winston raced up the hill towards his home, towards the rows of semi-detached red tenements with fruit trees drooping in the yards. His part of Fremantle always smelled like cut grass and eucalyptus, as well as the marshy smell of the docks. Some of the houses had dark green picket fences, peeling from the heat and the salt and the wind. Others simply faced on to the road. Lawns were littered with clues to the lives of their owners: a set of lawn chairs with old crocheted lap-blankets folded on top, a tricycle parked by the front steps, uncollected West Australian newspapers piled by the welcome mat. Winston pedalled hard to crest the top of the hill.

By the time he’d coasted down the other side of the incline, he was out of breath. His tyres scraped in the sand as he backpedalled and swung on to Fothergill Street. It had just begun to get dark, and the street was still full of people. Three small children were chasing a yellow dog up and down the laneways and Winston swerved to avoid them…

Website: The Incredible Rambling Elimy

You can also read
Part 1: Rashida Murphy and Kristen Levitzke

Coming up
Part 3: Karen Overman and Kim Coull
Part 4: Michelle Michau-Crawford and Louise Allan

 

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