Meet Tish! When she’s not keeping the Wheeler Centre ticking along, she’s been working with us as a Creative Producer – and we couldn’t be luckier.
Tish has been working with us to deliver the 2017 EWF Formal and has masterminded a Masterclass in Young Adult Fiction. In the lead up to the festival, Tish shares with us a few tidbits about what it’s like working with EWF, what makes YA such a great genre, and what makes writers’ festivals so addictive.
Tell us about yourself. What do you do outside of EWF? Are you working on any creative projects?
I’m lucky to be surrounded by writing pretty much constantly. Outside of EWF, I can usually be found just downstairs, supervising Wheeler Centre events and managing the building’s venues.
When I’m not bouncing around the Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas, I make stories: short (usually the contemporary kind, with a drop of magical realism), and long (currently, a speculative YA novel). The latter is set in a near-future Melbourne where the line between technology and the body is blurry, the need for creative thinking is dire, and adolescence is even harder to navigate than it is now. But mostly it’s about unlearning: the process of untangling the complex knots inside you that are really just stories people have told you – or stories you’ve told yourself – about who you are. So, stories within stories. Or in dad joke form: lo-fi cli-fi sci-fi.
And when I’m not doing that, I pursue my true calling: befriending neighbourhood cats. Also dad jokes.
What made you want to be a Creative Producer at EWF this year, and how are you finding the experience so far?
Years of supporting and delivering arts events have got me excited about arts programming. The experience does not disappoint – I now have the joy (and mild terror) of producing what is just about my ultimate event!
Along the way, I’ve been a little awed by the generosity shown to me by artists and organisers alike. The combination of freedom and support that underpins this festival is really special.
What draws you to YA literature?
Adolescence is such a strange, raw, liminal space, and storytelling for me is all about liminal spaces. I couldn’t wait to escape it as a teenager (and nothing could convince me to return) but I’m fascinated by it now.
I also love that YA readerships demand stories without artifice. Good YA encourages the things I like most about people: honesty, curiosity, and compassion.
What are you reading at the moment, and what’s on your ‘to-read’ pile?
I’ve been particularly captured by genre-defying stories this year: novels from Leanne Hall and Alison Evans that are fantastic in both senses of the word (and neither in the ways you expect); Steven Amsterdam’s What the Family Needed, a multiple perspectives family saga – with superpowers; and The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell, which is welcome to live in my head forever.
At the moment I’m falling in love with Formaldehyde, Jane Rawson’s brilliantly inventive novella, and Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts, which is taking me forever because it’s so white-hot-wonderful I find myself rereading every damn page.
I’ve also been on a crime fiction bender lately, and particularly enjoying stories by women that subvert the genre: Emma Viskic, Melina Marchetta, Emily Maguire. It’s a precarious kind of pile.
What is your favourite aspect of writers’ festivals, and what are you looking forward to at EWF17?
My answer to both of these questions is the same: I’m keen to hear (and eavesdrop on) lots of thoughtful and productive conversations, but what I’m most excited for is inhaling the festival energy. If you’re not familiar with it, that’s the intense, nerdy enthusiasm that permeates a good writers’ fest, and you’ll soon find that it’s addictive.
Who would be on your dream panel, including all literary figures fictional and real, alive and dead?
I’d love to see what some of my favourite protagonists made of their writers and each other, so let’s say: Amy Witting and her Isobel, Philip Pullman and Lyra and Markus Zusak and Liesel. (The bonus is that the fictional trio would inevitably form a band/girl gang/political party in the green room.)