Posted by: Lisa Hill | March 28, 2011

Meet an Aussie Author: Chris Womersley

Chris Womersley is the acclaimed author of Bereft, which has been nominated in two of Australia’s most prestigous awards in the last week.

Bereft (see my review) is

Womerlsey was born in Melbourne in 1968.  His fiction and reviews have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including

  • Granta New Writing 14
  • Best Australian Stories 2006
  • The Monthly
  • The Age

He won the Josephine Ulrick Literature Prize for short story in 2007. His first novel, The Low Road, was shortlisted for the 2006 Victorian Premier’s Award for an unpublished manuscript and won the Ned Kelly Award for Best First Book in 2008.

Amy Whittaker, publicist for the Miles Franklin, has kindly provided via Scribe, Chris’s responses for this Meet an Aussie Author segment – thanks, Chris and Amy!

1. I was born in Melbourne just over 43 years ago.

2. When I was a child I wrote a sequel to Star Wars, which has sadly been lost.

3. The person who encouraged me to write was probably Fyodor Dostoevsky. In a dream, 1983. Actually, he was speaking Russian, so who knows what he was really saying.

4. I write either in my office at the lovely Abbotsford Convent in Melbourne, or at the kitchen/dining room table when my son is sleeping…

5. I write whenever I am not working to make a living or parenting or doing whatever else it takes to get by.

6. Research is a great excuse to sit around reading weird books and websites. And staring into space is much underrated, too.

7. I keep my published works in the shed, mostly.

8. On the day my first book was published, I was probably wiping my then four-month-old son’s bum.

9. At the moment, I’m writing a big strange novel that is a something like a cross between Brideshead Revisited and The Gormenghast Trilogy.

10. When I’m stuck for an idea/word/phrase, I often find a piece of music that approximates the register of the description I am chasing and use that to select the exact words I need.’

I’m a bit shocked to see that precious first editions are languishing in the shed, Chris!  I hope you’ve got plenty of naphthalene in there too!


  1. No. 9 sounds intriguing … what will it be? I love the answer to no. 10 too, though I’m a bit mystified how effectively music can work as a thesaurus!


    • Yes, it sounds fascinating. Have you read Ghormenghast? I tried very hard but ended up scampering through some IMO turgid bits…


  2. I like his answer to number 8!

    Am intrigued by what he does to “make a living or parenting or doing whatever else it takes to get by” (see answer to number 5). Does this mean writing is not his main living?


    • I guess it does mean that, Kim. It’s very difficult for most authors to make a living out of writing here in Australia – especially not writers of quality literary fiction. The market is so small here, and they have to compete in an international market that can be rather insular or else focussed on places closer to home. That’s why I am so thrilled when you review an Aussie book because it gives writers who deserve it a bit of airspace in the UK market.
      The PM’s prize (which is a bit less than the original $100,000 now because they’ve added extra categories without increasing the prize pool) is a fabulous prize for a young writer because managed carefully it gives a few years of full-time writing. But we need more prizes like that, and until Australian philanthropy and sponsorship supports the arts as well as ubiquitous sporting groups, most writers can’t give up the day job.


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