Pillow Talk with Benjamin Law

Love. It stirs our creative spirits, brings us to our knees, inspires songs and sonnets and paintings and volumes.

In the spirit of this year’s Festival theme, When We Talk About Love, we’re asking authors and artists to share the passions that underpin their work. This week, we spoke with The Family Law author, creator and screenwriter Ben Law about familial love, being serenaded with song, and a very special edition of The Nightingale and the Rose.

Q: Love is a complex, multi-layered thing. What kinds of love do you explore through your writing or art?


Q: What is the most beloved book in your bookshelf, and how did you fall for it?

A copy of Oscar Wilde’s The Nightingale and the Rose, exquisitely illustrated by the Archibald Prize-winning artist Del Kathryn Barton, whose work I love so much. I got to interview Del Kathryn at the Art Gallery of New South Wales one night and brought along the copy of the book for her to sign in gold. When she asked how she should sign it, I joked, ‘with a massive dick’ and we both cackled as she did just that. I now have a giant cock illustrated by one of the best living artists in that book. There’s no other copy like it in the world.

Q: If love were an object, what would it be?

A peony. Or a butt plug.

Q: If love were a song, what would it be?

Every one my boyfriend Scott has ever written for or about me.

Q: Pen us a haiku to your heart.

Though I am skinny
I still need constant feeding
Mostly plants and fish

Q: Snog/Marry/Avoid, literary edition. Which three book characters would you choose, and why?

My mind’s currently geared towards non-fiction, so instead of characters I’m choosing authors. Snog DeRay Mckesson, marry Ariel Levy and avoid anyone who’s had a byline in the Australian’s op-ed pages.

Find Ben at this year’s Melbourne Writers Festival.