Author profiles

 

Graeme Simsion

 

Graeme Simsion has been published in four Stringybark Stories anthologies, The Road Home, Tainted Innocence, The Seven Deadly Sins and Behind the Wattles.  He was interviewed by David Vernon.


Graeme, in 2012 you came second in the Seven Deadly Sins Award 2012 with your very short story Eulogy for a Sinner.  It was published in the paperback and e-book The Seven Deadly Sins.   How difficult is it to write shorter pieces compared to long works? 

Effort is roughly proportional to length – and that story was written quickly and without much difficulty once I had the idea. The advantage of a short story is that I can hold a clear outline in my head. With a novel, I have to write an outline and refer back to it as I go so I don’t get lost.

As well as being a prizewinner you have received several Highly Commended Awards in multiple Stringybark Competitions.  In the book The Road Home you had three stories published!  What does acknowledgement in literary competitions do for your motivation to write?


It’s enormously important for me. With the exception of one short story a few years back, the three Road Home stories were the first prose fiction (as distinct from screenplays) that I had written since schooldays. I was not at all confident in my ability, so having all three published was a great encouragement.

 

For how long have you been writing and do you have a preferred genre?

Non-fiction forever – including two technical books. Screenwriting – since I enrolled in the course at RMIT in 2007 – and a couple of short plays as well. Prose fiction – since November of last year when I started work on the Road Home stories.

Do you have a set time of day or place that you do your writing?  

I’m very erratic. I don’t write every day, and when I do write – especially when working on my novels – I do so in intense bursts of eight hours or so.  My partner, who also writes, and I have a shack in Central Victoria, and we often spend a full weekend there writing. I don’t believe in writing every day. I need to have time to plan, to think, to edit and to do other stuff. Until recently that included a day job.

Recently you have had great success with your book, The Rosie Project.  Tell us about it and what is planned for this work.

 

The Rosie Project was adapted from a screenplay I’d been working on for five years – my RMIT “school project”. It’s the story of a socially-challenged genetics professor who sets out to find a life partner scientifically.  I had the character and story very clear in my mind, and it only took me a few weeks to draft and edit into reasonable shape. It won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an unpublished manuscript and was picked up by Text Publishing for publication in February 2013. In the meantime, we’ve sold foreign rights to around thirty territories. There’s now a lot of interest in the screenplay, so with any luck the original vision of a film will be realised.

 

Do you have any suggestions for those who are just starting out writing short stories?

 

Consider (strongly) enrolling in a class. Write. Frequently. Even if it’s not great. Then give yourself time to edit. Submit for publication. Get feedback. I’m still very much a student of the genre, but I see many talented fellow students just not writing enough stories, or writing them too close to the deadline so they don’t get a chance to edit them. Good writing is re-writing, and you need to leave the story for a while and come back to it. And then submit it, get it published! I always ask for feedback from Stringybark, and if you’re in a class, you get it as part of the deal.

 

Now for the tough question.  What is Australian literature?

You’re asking the wrong guy. I just write and it’s genuinely not something I think about. My stories are based on things I know, so they include Australian characters and settings, but they also include people and locations from other countries. Insofar as I’m Australian, inevitably I bring an Australian sensibility to some of my writing – but it’s not something I strive for. I’ve lived overseas, was born in NZ, and many of my friends are from other countries – and they all help inspire and inform what I write.  Similarly, when I read, I look for the universals more than anything evocative of a particular location or national character.


Graeme Simsion
November 2012