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meet the judges: estelle tang

estelle tang

Over the next week or so, Lip will be running a special set of interviews with the judges of the 2014 Rachel Funari Prize for Fiction. These lovely ladies are Jessica FriedmannMelanie Tait and Estelle Tang. A few days ago published our interview with Jessica Friedmann. Today let’s meet Estelle Tang.

Estelle Tang has recently relocated to NYC, and for starters is a staff writer at Rookie! Her past and present literary pursuits include work with Kill Your Darlings and Melbourne Writers’ Festival, and publication in Meanjin, The Age, Frankie, Australian Book Review and more.


What is in store for your 2014?

I’m currently in NYC, trying to read, write and eat — the last one is coming out best so far.

Many of our competition entrants are aspiring writers. Many are also women. As a female writer, are there any experiences from your career journey that you would like to share?

One of the things I used to constantly hear from editors is that women didn’t put themselves forward or pitch as much as men. I don’t know if that is true but I know I am really terrified of pitching and rejection yet I think all female writers should pitch without fear or shame. What helps me is when I pitch and hear back from editors, I pretend that I am a person called Rochelle Wang who is a very awesome and talented writer who can be professional about all opportunities and feedback. It is kind of like Beyonce and Sasha Fierce though a bit less glamorous sounding (sorry to anyone’s real name is Rochelle Wang). What I am trying to say with my dumb little story is that pitching and rejection are all part and parcel of being a writer and that there’s nothing wrong with being ambitious and wanting your ideas to be heard — once you distance yourself from the sting or insecurity of this constant process, you can learn a lot from it.

What does “feminism” mean to you?

Yikes, this is so tough. I am an ardent feminist but I’m aware it’s such a controversial word with so many facets, even among feminists. My personal take on it is that until all women — of any ethnic background or age or sexual orientation, trans* or cis –– are paid the same as men, have less to fear than men, are educated as well as men, are afforded the same resources and respect as men, have all the same rights and opportunities as men, are treated as equal in society as men, can express themselves fully and safely in any space they desire — I will be a feminist.

Why have you agreed to judge the Rachel Funari Prize for Fiction 2014?

I am excited to see what is out there! I think it’s as simple as that.

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 the media and publishing world?

I have been excited to see the rise and proliferation of websites that speak specifically to women; not because I think women and men need separate cultural inputs, but because so many smart and awesome women are interested in talking to other smart and awesome women. I might be biased, because I am a staff writer for Rookie, but every day I’m gleefully excited to know that girls and women every day are talking to each other, supporting each other and sharing stories.

In terms of the mainstream media — actually, probably culturally in general — I think we still have a long way to go. The way we talk about sexual abuse, for example, as recently highlighted by the Dylan Farrow story arc over the past decade or so, has really astounded me in terms of the huge misapprehensions the general populace have about women, sexual violence and trauma. It is hideously sad and I have been at a loss lately. But there are amazing journalists out there who are doing great work to ensure that careful and respectful stories exist alongside the lazy, blasé ones.


When it comes to judging the competition, what will you be looking for?

This is not going to be helpful to anyone, but I think I will just know it when I see it. I like beautiful sentences, fully realised characters, complete emotional arcs, successful experimental styling, humorous asides, extremely beautiful characters called “Estelle” who have seven dogs, that kind of thing. Good luck!


Do you have a story hidden under your pillow? Do you have what it takes to write the winning words? Find out more about the Rachel Funari Prize for Fiction here.

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