What’s your connection to Brimbank?

I moved to the area about three years ago and was lucky enough to get a studio at Sunshine Art Spaces.

 

What do you like best about the area?

Its diversity and lack of pretension. There’s so many different ethnicities here, a lot of people rubbing along together.

 

What could make the area better?

I think it’s already coming along, with a lot of council money being put into it. The new library is great, as is the train station. The parking inspectors could be less attentive perhaps.

 

What are your favourite places to go eat in Brimbank?

Roly Poly on Sun Crescent do great sandwiches and Polish cakes, and The Mango Tree across the road serves a scorching Sri Lankan curry. I can sometimes be found sweating in the corner of the latter.

 

How has the area impacted on you writing?

Writing is very solitary and working from home used to drive me crazy, then I had a studio in an industrial area which was also very isolating.

Just being around a lot of people has made it much easier to write because I’m generally happier. I’ve also loved sharing my space with Francess Sesay who teaches sewing as part of the Kontiki program. I’ll sometimes come in to six different people from as many nationalities and she calls out to me ‘Hello, my English brother!’

 

What inspires your writing?

I don’t like the word ‘inspiration’ because it implies a kind of passive bestowal from on high.

Like any craft, writing is an active process and the best ideas usually occur while you’re actually doing it. Of course you need to take something to the desk, but many a great idea dies on the page, which is very humbling.

I don’t think it serves anyone to put artists on a pedestal.

Like any worker, they should be respected because of the positive impact of what they do, but they’re just doing a job the same as everyone else.

 

What are you working on at the moment? When do you hope to have it completed?

I’m mid-way through my second novel,

The Strangers. It’s loosely connected to my first book Winter’s Children and set in a struggling religious community in northern Norway.

I’m hoping to finish a solid first draft in the next six months so watch this space.

 

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I’m obsessed with the Black Death. Ask me about it – I dare you!