Michael is a Children’s and Young Adult bookseller and writer.
He is the editor of the collection Kindred: A Queer #LoveOzYA Anthology which will be published by Walker Books Australia this coming June.
And he also contributed the story ‘Meet and Greet’ to Underdog: #LoveOzYA Short Stories, ‘Regulation’ to Aurealis #99 and ‘The Next Stop’ to The Victorian Writer.
Michael graciously took the time to do a Q&A with me earlier in the week and I am very excited to share it with you.
DID YOU ALWAYS DREAM OF BECOMING A WRITER?
My desire to be a writer developed gradually. I’ve always written. Starting with the terrible teenage poetry, of a 14 year old. But I never stopped journaling in free verse. Then I got a job in a bookshop as a 19 year old and rediscovered my love of books. Then started wondering if I couldn’t write them myself.
CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR WRITING PROCESS; WHERE YOU DRAW INSPIRATION FROM FOR YOUR STORIES, DO YOU HAVE ANY PRE-WRITING RITUALS OR MAYBE EVEN A PREFERRED WRITING PLACE?
I often have to tidy my desk. Clear workspace, clear mind and all that. And while I can journal and/or daydream stories anywhere, I find it very difficult to write or edit a work in progress with other people around, so I tend to do most of my writing at my desk at home, trying hard to pretend the rest of the world doesn’t exist. I’m VERY easily distracted.
As for inspiration? A lot of my ideas come from images, or snapshots from a scene that appears in my head. Then I get really curious to what came before, or what comes next, and I tease it out. Occasionally a story is in direct response to something I’ve heard. Regulation, my story in Aurealis #99 for example, was my reaction to comments someone said during the Safe Schools debate and I just felt erased in a single statement. That story just poured out of me, and I’m really proud of it.
[Note from Sarah: I purchased Aurealis #99 specifically to read Micheal’s short story Regulation. It was gripping, poignant and beautiful. It was a story that resonated within me. I am now feeling an even deeper level of connection to Regulation, after reading how it came about – I encourage you all to read it]
HAVE YOU FOUND THAT ANY WRITERS, CHILDHOOD FAVORITES PERHAPS, HAVE INFLUENCED YOUR WRITING?
There are certainly authors that while I don’t actively try to emulate their style, I maybe try to channel their vibe? Because I want my writing to be mine. But it’s hard not to aspire to be like the people you admire.
ARE THERE ANY BOOKS YOU WISH YOU HAD WRITTEN?
Ummm YES! But only in that the writer in me has grabby hands every time I read something I feel is brilliant. Margo Lanagan, Patrick Ness, David Levithan, David Almond just to name a few.
WHAT ISSUES DO YOU LIKE TO EXPLORE IN YOUR WRITING?
I’m really interested in the way that people relate to each other. The nuance of individual connections and relationships is what makes them fascinating. This includes people (or characters) relationship with themselves. All these connections are so bolstering and fraught that regardless of what the plot is doing, it’s that balance that intrigues me most.
I WAS ELATED WHEN I HEARD THAT YOU WERE PUTTING KINDRED TOGETHER (Kindred: A Queer #LoveOzYA Anthology). THE WORLD NEEDS MORE QUEER BOOKS! HOW DID YOU FEEL WHEN YOU GOT THE GO AHEAD?
ELATED! The world does need more queer books, so the fact that I was going to be able to help usher these amazing stories into the world was so exciting! I’ve been riding that wave for almost 2 years now. So now that the release is so very close (!) I’m ready for the world to have Kindred in their hands!
CAN YOU GIVE US YOUR TOP FIVE QUEER READS? – I KNOW, I KNOW, ONLY FIVE WHAAAAT. JUST GO WITH THE FIRST FIVE THAT POP INTO YOUR HEAD.
How. Dare. You.
Only 5? Sigh. Ok, here we go:
Release by Patrick Ness
Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
Welcome To Orphancorp by Marlee Jane Ward
I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson
Deadendia by Hamish Steele
WHAT ARE YOU READING AT THE MOMENT OR WHAT WAS THE LAST BOOK THAT YOU READ?
I’m currently reading Prisoncorp, the 3rd and final in Marlee Jane Ward’s FREAKING BRILLIANT series that started with Welcome to Orphancorp. Really, if you haven’t read it, go out and get it in your face.
My last 2 reads were After the Lights Go Out by Lili Wilkinson which was great (and I loved that the main character was bi, even though it wasn’t about her sexuality at all and the romance storyline was F/M). The other was Highway Bodies by Alison Evans, which all I can say is: If zombies are your thing, then what are you waiting for, and if they’re not, read it anyway. The characters and relationships Alison has created are heartwarming, crackling with life and so delightfully queer.
THANK YOU SO MUCH TO MICHAEL FOR TAKING THE TIME TO ANSWER MY QUESTIONS!
Kindred: 12 Queer #LoveOzYA Stories – June 1st 2019, Walker Books Australia.
What does it mean to be queer? What does it mean to be human? In this powerful #OwnVoices collection, twelve of Australia’s finest queer writers explore the stories of family, friends, lovers and strangers – the connections that form us.
Compelling queer short fiction by bestsellers, award winners and newcomers to the #LoveOzYA community including Jax Jacki Brown, Claire G Coleman, Michael Earp, Alison Evans, Erin Gough, Benjamin Law, Omar Sakr, Christos Tsiolkas, Ellen van Neerven, Marlee Jane Ward, Jen Wilde and Nevo Zisin.
Sign ups are OPEN for the queer own voices Kindred tour.
To sign up or for more information see HERE.