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Judge Q&A: Melissa Lucashenko

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Unlike ABC’s Q&A, the panel for the Rachel Funari Prize for Fiction is chockers with excellent women. Over the next few weeks, Lip will be getting to know our judges, so you can meet the writers who will be reading your work. 

This week we are featuring Melissa Lucashenko, author of Mullimbimby.

What have you got planned for 2015?

In 2015 I was kind of hoping for a quiet year, but I have several offers of TV work; I’m running a workshop series in Byron Bay during Feb/March; going to the UK in May for the Festival of Australian and NZ culture where I will give a keynote to the British Museum; possible going to Mongolia (!) in winter, and hopefully the States later in the year. I won’t be writing the Great Australian Novel in 2014, clearly!

As a female writer, are there any experiences from your career journey that you would like to share?

I think one of the most useful experiences was seeing a (slightly) older woman writer presented with a professional challenge that I found pretty daunting , and noticing her go dismissively, ‘Sure! How hard can it be?’ Ie if blokes can do it there’s no reason we can’t too. That was very instructive to someone who grew up in the maw of patriarchy.

What does ‘privilege’ mean to you?

I have always liked George Orwell’s idea that it is anyone whose heart doesn’t sink when they think of the rent. But there’s so many other layers…are you locked behind bars? Are you able to walk to the footpath? How much violence is there in your life? How much hiding of yourself do you have to do? Are your people political footballs?…it goes on and on really. There are few people – and there are a few – in Australia who have no privilege in world terms. Mostly Aboriginal people and/or disabled people living in extreme poverty with almost no voice. And of course those mouldering in our very own gulags on Manus and Nauru.

The Rachel Funari Prize for Fiction calls for a focus on women’s stories. What’s your view on the current state of women’s stories in media and publishing?

Ive just judged the Stella Prize and think the talent runs both wide and deep. Very impressive.

Why have you agreed to judge the Rachel Funari Prize for Fiction 2015?

I think I was drunk. Or possibly high.

What will you be looking for when judging the competition?

Readability is high on my list, and of course the ‘linger’ test – am I thinking about it a week later. Politics is important and a sense of humour always helps too. A beautiful sentence goes a helluva long way to impressing me, with my judging hat on.

You can find out more about Melissa Lucashenko here

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