Our Early Bird tickets are now on sale and the first round of speakers has been revealed. In this series we chat to these authors, artists and activists to get to know them a little better before they join us in October. This week we speak to Tara June Winch. Author of the story collection After the Carnage and the novels Swallow the Air, and The Yield, she explores ideas of Indigenous culture and language, belonging to landscape, and colonialism.
When and why did you start writing?
I began writing toward the end of high school and when I dropped out. I wrote letters, postcards and little sentences I guess. I thought they were poems, but I’m no poet. I was trying to convey why I couldn’t stay at home, why I was hitchhiking around Australia alone at 17. Looking back I was trying to find the words or the greater metaphor in the distance and the landscape to explain those huge feelings I had.
In retrospect those feelings are normal and many teenagers have them during the great duality of that age: hope/hopelessness, belonging/alienation, naivety/awareness. I felt very alone in the emotions though, and writing took the burden off my mind and body having to carry them around, even momentarily.
What’s the most extraordinary place your writing has taken you to?
It’s given me a purpose, wherever I go. It’s taken me to an understanding and a forgiveness of my flawed self and my confusion in the world. I don’t think we ever really grow up and out of the confusion, we just gain more acceptance of it.
What’s your favorite part of the writing process, and least favorite?
I could give these feelings names and colors, I know them so well. The best part is when you are sure of the piece as a whole, when you cannot type fast enough, when the sentences become lyrics. And the worst is the doubt, especially after it’s printed and bound, and you are hoping you’ve been understood.
What issues and ideas are you hoping to explore during UWRF19?
I’m looking forward to listening. I feel like I’m just emerging from that cave of the novel writing process, and I’m interested to hear about the state of the world, what is moving us, what demands our attention and ink.
Who do you hope will be in the audience?
Open and hopeful readers.
What’s your advice for aspiring writers?
I’ve always said read and write it out, but there’s an element that I think is overlooked – embracing the ability to reckon with yourself, to accept what is holding us back from telling the stories we can imagine. If it’s idleness, or being prone to distraction, not being able to portray real enough characters, if we accept those things and make time to be aware of our faultiness our writing will benefit from the insights. Our characters will be four dimensional, we’ll have strategies to work around our weaknesses and when we finally sit at the desk we’ll have the tools to stay there.
For readers unfamiliar with your work, what do you suggest they start with?
Of course I’d love people to read The Yield because it’s the last thing I wanted to say.
What are you working on now? Where to next for your writing?
A psychological thriller novel entitled Hotel Vague, set in the Swiss Alps. It explores the idea of eternal return.
Eager to hear more from Tara June Winch? Pick up your Early Bird ticket now, saving you 20% on the regular price of a 4-Day Pass. Stay tuned for our full lineup announcement in mid-August.