The prize–winning Noongar author will lead an online workshop on the ins and outs of the speculative fiction genre, sharing insight into her own creative process crafting the celebrated novels Terra Nullius and The Old Lie.
Tell me one of your first memories connected to writing.
When I was a child I was repeatedly told I had perhaps too much imagination and that I should be a writer. However I was also told there was no money in it and that I should find something more sensible to do. I dreamed of writing stories since I was about six or so but I never thought I would have a chance to be a writer.
Can you speak a little about your creative process? How does your day begin and end?
I get up to write at about 5am most mornings because that’s when my thoughts are fastest and often when the words flow easiest. I write with a coffee, often many of them, fuelling my brain and cooking the cobwebs out of my head. If I have things I need to do that day I work until about 8am; if not, I work until I stop making sense even to myself.
What are the most important literary and non-literary forces that shape your writing?
I would say the most important non-artistic force that shapes my writing is the continent on which we live, the varied landscapes, the powerful stories and the people. The most powerful artistic force is music: poet songwriters, Aboriginal reggae, the blues. The music I am listening to shapes my work more than anything else.
Which artists or writers most intrigue you at the moment and why?
Last night, in a campground near Alice Springs, I heard the music of Mr T E Lewis coming from another camp, cutting through even the sound of the other camps. Mr Lewis (recently deceased) was most famous for his acting as Jimmie Blacksmith in The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith and most people don’t know he was also an accomplished blues man, singing songs about his town and his people. He was a wonderful charming man, an important elder and worked hard for the good of his people.
How did you know when your latest book Lies, Damned Lies was finished?
I don’t think any book is finished, at least that’s my experience. Normally it’s finished when it’s due and someone takes it off me. This is particularly true of editing.
If there is something you never want to see the end of, what would it be?
I would never want to see the end of Aboriginal culture. That is the end-game of settler colonialism, the ending of Aboriginal culture. I hope people never stop fighting the colony. I hope people never stop resisting.
And conversely, what is one thing that could end today and you wouldn’t even notice?
Reality TV could end and I doubt I would notice. I swing wildly between hating reality TV and not wanting to give it even the amount of energy it takes to hate it.
Claire G Coleman is a Noongar woman who writes fiction, essays, poetry and art writing while either living in Naarm (Melbourne) or on the road. Her latest work is Lies, Damned Lies: A personal exploration of the impact of colonisation.
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