Creative Producer Jim Thomas

Diem Nguyen  

Jim Thomas lives in Melbourne, on Wurundjeri land. His writing has appeared in Voiceworks.

What’s the most exciting thing about being an EWF creative producer?

The intensity and professionalism of the planning environment. Also, the knowledge that working hard can produce something really special, that there is the opportunity to see my energy and application help a team create something genuinely original, useful and enjoyable.

What do you do outside of EWF?

I do some freelance editing. I work diligently at a bottle shop and have big dreams of one day not working diligently at a bottle shop. I’d say I write a lot but at the moment, this is mainly just putting down notes on my phone and sending long emails to friends. I have around 1,800 phone notes, a sum which I think counts for something. An edgy novella, surely.

Who would be on your dream author panel?

It would be a very large panel. Perhaps we could roster them on in teams and have some sort of game show instead? The caveat being, I get to hang out in the green room. The host would be Deborah Treisman, fiction editor at The New Yorker. She runs The New Yorker: Fiction podcast (which I recommend, if only to hear her chat to famous authors – she hosts with transcendental calm, low-key genius and sneaky wit).
Team #1: Denis Johnson, Angela Carter, Joy Williams
Team #2: Breece D’J Pancake, Alice Munro, Italo Calvino
Team #3: Marie Darrieussecq, Judith Butler, Zadie Smith
Team #4: Eileen Myles, Ben Lerner, V.S Naipaul

What book have you reread the most?

Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities. It’s extraordinarily brief, but its many paradoxes and elusive metaphors – alongside the momentum, self-aware humour and surface beauty – render it a novel that rewards readers for the energy they invest. Perhaps a better/more sentimental way of putting this is: it’s a big treasure hunt, where, on discovering one treasure, Calvino goes out and buries another one, like an earnest dad.

What books are you currently reading, loving and recommending?

I’m currently re-reading Joy Williams’ microfiction collection Ninety-Nine Stories of God, which is rapidly paced, witty, intelligent and sly. I’m also working through V.S Naipaul’s essay collection The Writer and the World. His essays are brilliantly written and insightful but a little dated. I am loving them both in a lofty, intellectual way. In terms of full-hearted recommendation, if you haven’t read anything by Elif Batuman, you should. Her big, recent novel The Idiot is really flash but her older essay collection The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Literature and Those Who Read it I enjoyed enormously.

The 2019 Emerging Writers’ Festival will run 19–29 June. Find out about Jim’s events after the program launches on 15 May.

Interview by fellow Creative Producer Diem Nguyen