Q&A with Lou Heinrich

Else Fitzgerald  

For the month of November, we are running our annual open call out for EWF 2016 (which you can find out more about here). We talked to some of this year’s amazing participants about their experience, which writers they are excited about at the moment, and what they’ve been up to since EWF15.

Lou Heinrich is a stone cold bibliophile who writes about pop culture and women. Every day she falls more in love with stories, honesty and life. At EWF15 Lou featured in our #writingwhilefemale day as a panelist on Writing While Feminist.

Can you tell us about your very first experience with EWF? How and when did you hear about the festival?

I saw the call-out on Twitter, and applied as an interstate artist for the 2014 festival. Ex-director and cool cat Sam Twyford-Moore gave me a call to discuss where I would fit in the festival and I almost weed myself with excitement.

EWF has been a huge blessing because it granted me with a foundational community. I hadn’t yet managed to connect with Adelaide writers – young literary culture here is mostly pocketed and underground – and it was a revelation to sit amongst a crowd who love words and want to talk about them!

As well as community, the most invaluable thing EWF provided me with was encouragement. Despite no prior speaking gigs, I was programmed to appear at Amazing Babes, a magical memoir event, and on a discussion panel about women and writing. I suppose it’s indicative of my wish to be validated by external approval, but for an organisation to give me such a platform was a great way to be told, You’re doing okay! Your work is worth something! Keep going!

Did you have any particular highlights at EWF15?

Amazing Babes 2.0 was such an honest and beautiful and funny performance event that paid homage to the women who have inspired – it’s a celebration of emotion and creativity. I still have Gilmore Girls on my to-watch list because Lorelei Vashti told stories about binge-watching it when her daughter was born.

I was also lucky enough to take part in Bali Emerging Writers Festival x EWF15 – an exchange where EWF sent me to BEWF, which is connected to Ubud Readers and Writers Festival. What a fabulous opportunity to discover Indonesian writing, to be thrown onto panels as the resident feminist, to be translated in action, and to discover that writers and artists are my tribe everywhere. I am so grateful!

What have you been up to since EWF15?

Freelancing my butt off, and generally trying to find the magic equation of balancing life and my day job and relationships and writing and self-care. I cracked a few publications that I really admire (The Guardian and InDaily), which I’m very proud of!

I’ve also been brewing some ideas for literary events in Adelaide, to bring more emerging authors to our little city. I’m researching at the moment: what do young writers here want to see and engage with? Stay tuned.

Who are some of the writers and artists that you’re excited about at the moment?

Oh God. Too many.

I could go on forever <3

Can you tell us about the last book you read and loved, and what’s currently on your to-read pile?

I was fascinated by Anna Funder’s Stasiland, an exploration of life in post-WWII East Germany. There are two narrative threads: the stories that emerge from her research, and her experience investigating surveillance and horror. I love non-fiction that takes on a big subject and incorporates the writer’s experience and emotional reaction (other Australian books that do this are Wild Man by Alecia Simmonds, Helen Garner’s recent non-fiction, and Anna Krien’s Night Games, to name a few).

When I ordered Christmas presents I accidentally got a few for me, too: one of them is Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts because I want to explore the integration of criticism and memoir.

I’ve also got The Engagement by Chloe Hooper, Blood by Tony Birch, some Ellena Ferrantes and Fiona Wright’s Small Acts of Disappearance lined up – and I really must finish Leslie Jamison’s The Empathy Exams, too.

What have you been working on lately?

I’ve just finished an essay on court narratives by Australian women writers and the notion of ‘feminine’ writing incorporating emotion into text, which will be published next year. I’m also about to dive into the depiction of rape onscreen and the benefits of censorship.

Where can we read some of your writing?

My collected works can be found here – but you can read a personal essay about my personal hatred of bras here and a piece about women, casual work and sick pay here.

Have you got any advice for other emerging writers?

Support and champion your peers. Surround yourself (online and offline) with people who understand and encourage you. Count your blessings every day. And most of all, keep going <3

Applications are now open and will close at 5pm (AEST) on the 26th of November, 2015. Successful applicants can expect to hear from us in late January, 2016*. The 2016 Emerging Writers’ Festival will take place in Melbourne from June 14-24.

Click here to apply!