God bless the internet: Michelle Law

Michelle Law chats about gracing us with her presence at EWF this year. She’ll be in conversation about how to write outside of your own experience at What Right Do I Have, pulling our heartstrings at our YouTube Party, and getting jealous at It’s Not Easy Being Green.

This year we’ll be seeing you in several events of the festival — are there any other events in particular you’d have liked to be a part of or are interested in attending? 
I’m really interested in the ‘Early Words’ series that is happening during the festival. I’m not a morning person at all, but I’d totally get up early to make these events! ‘Self-Care for Writers’ looks so necessary for anyone who’s creative. Self-care is a practical skill you learn over years through a lot of trial and error, so this event would be a fast track in learning those skills. And ‘Who Tells Our Stories’ is particularly interesting to me as a writer from a minority background who’s constantly having to navigate this minefield of race.

What Right Do I Have you’ll be questioning author intention when it comes to writing outside of experience. Can you tell us a little more about this topic and how you approach it?
To me, this is a discussion about the agency we do or don’t give ourselves to tell stories that don’t belong to us. Is it right for us to write about lives and worlds that we haven’t experienced firsthand? Or is the very purpose of stories to enable us to imagine? I’m in two minds about this, and I think what makes it acceptable or unacceptable comes down to many factors, including intention, research and execution.

You write a great deal about your own experience in creative non-fiction and memoir. With these forms there is an element of vulnerability, of exposing parts of yourself to strangers.  How does your experience as a writer inform your own interpretation of the question What Right Do I Have?
I think my interpretation of What Right Do I Have changes depending on whether we’re talking about fiction or non-fiction. Obviously, if we’re talking about memoir, I’m writing about myself and my firsthand experience; there’s no escaping that, and I write memoir for a particular reason. Normally, it’s to make sense of something that I’ve experienced or get to the truth of that feeling or event. In a way, it’s free therapy. If someone were to write from my perspective and label it as non-fiction, I’d be very salty about that. Fiction gives you some freedom. If we all wrote fiction based on things we had experienced ourselves, we wouldn’t have books like, and I’m casting a wide net of examples here, The Virgin Suicides or Harry Potter. (Unless JK Rowling is actually a boy wizard — somebody call the police.) When it comes to fiction, you may not be explicitly writing about your own experience, but you’re drawing — however consciously or unconsciously — on your own world and bank of experiences as well as your ability to empathise with your characters.

You are participating as an artist for one of our funnest events, the YouTube Party. Why do you think it is so important that we celebrate the weird and the wonderful work that can be found online? Can you give us a clue as to what your video might contain?
God bless the internet, and god bless this event. I am looking forward to this so much, and I just know all of the attendees are going to experience the full spectrum of human emotion on the night. The internet is a beautiful, awful, exhilarating place, and what better way to celebrate that than by gathering your nearest and drunkest and toasting the machine that delivers us wild content anywhere and anytime we want it. What a time to be alive. My video’s a tear jerker – think dog rescues and life-saving surgery level tear jerker.

And lastly, are you working on anything creatively or in regards to your first stage play with La Boite Theatre Company in the lead up to the festival that we can look out for?
I am! There’s going to be a full reading of my play, Single Asian Female, at La Boite Theatre Company’s HWY Festival in July. It’s part of a showcase of new and exciting theatre works, where audiences will be able to see glimpses of full form works that will hit stages soon. Tickets are super cheap and I’m going to be super drunk to prepare myself for all the feedback. Hopefully I’ll see you there!

Michelle Law is a Brisbane writer of fiction, non fiction, film, and theatre. She is an AWGIE award-winning screenwriter whose films have screened internationally and on the ABC. In 2014 she co-authored the comedy book Sh*t Asian Mothers Say. In 2015, she was shortlisted for the Queensland Premier’s Young Publishers and Writers Awards. This year, Michelle is working on her first stage play with La Boite Theatre.

You can see Michelle Law at It’s Not Easy Being Green, the YouTube Party, and What Right Do I Have.

See all three events, and more, with a Golden Ticket. Golden Tickets are your passport to the Emerging Writers’ Festival. They will give you access to the National Writers’ Conference, plus the rest of the festival including all panels, talks, performances and selected workshops – that’s over 70 events! A better value way to get a full experience of a writer’s festival you will never see elsewhere.

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