Posted by: Lisa Hill | October 21, 2016

Meet an Aussie Author: Emily Maguire

emily-maguire-2It’s only a day or two since I reviewed An Isolated Incident so I’m very excited to be able to introduce the author to you via Meet an Aussie Author.

an-isolated-incidentAn Isolated Incident is Emily Maguire’s fifth novel.  As she says in her blurb:

It’s about Chris Rogers, an easy-going, heavy-drinking barmaid in the dying NSW country town of Strathdee, who’s plunged into despair  – and thrust unwillingly into the national spotlight – when her adored younger sister Bella is murdered. It’s a novel about everyday violence, the media obsession with pretty dead girls and the difficulties of knowing the difference between a ghost and a memory, between a monster and a man.

As you can see from my review, it’s a novel that speaks to Emily’s skill in creating compelling and highly readable fiction about the pressing social problem of violence against women in Australia, and it’s part of a suite of publications about feminism, sex and culture including

  • previous novels Fishing for Tigers, Smoke in the Room, The Gospel According to Luke and the international bestseller Taming the Beast;
  • a non-fiction book Princesses and Pornstars: Sex + Power + Identity which is a frank, personal examination of what it means to be young and female in Australia. A Young Adult version of this book titled Your Skirt’s Too Short: Sex, Power, Choice was published in 2010; and
  • articles and essays in The Sydney Morning Herald,  The Age, The Monthly and The Weekend Australian.

Emily has twice been named as a Sydney Morning Herald Young Novelist of the Year (2010 and 2013) and was the recipient of the 2011 NSW Writers’ Fellowship. She has an MA in literature and works as a teacher and mentor to young and emerging writers.

So you can imagine how pleased I was when Emily agreed to answer my questions for Meet an Aussie Author!

1.I was born …in Canberra, but my family moved to Sydney when I was still tiny.

2.When I was a child I wrote…constantly. I reckon I wrote a dozen ‘novels’ and twenty ‘plays’ before I was ten years old.

3.The person who encouraged/inspired/mentored me to write is/was…my parents and siblings. We were and are a family of proud and joyful reading and writing nerds.

4.I write in… a little room at the top of the NSW Writers’ Centre (where I also teach), my living room, bedroom, hotel room, airport gate, library, park, borrowed back room of someone else’s place, cafe, car, unused staircase. I need my laptop and earbuds with loud lyricless music playing and I’m good to go.

5.I write when… I can. My preference is late at night but I long ago realised that the only way I was going to sustain a writing life long-term was if I learnt to write when and wherever. So I do.

6.Research is….thrilling. How many times have I been about to close a book only to come across the perfect tiny detail that brings everything I’m trying to do into focus or shows me the way forward? The tricky thing is disciplining myself so I don’t use all of my precious writing time on research and never get any words on the page.

7.I keep my published work/s on my bookshelf at home. I often feel, in the midst of writing a novel, that I have no idea what I’m doing and should give it up. The published books remind me that I’ve felt like this before and lived to write another day.

8.On the day my first book was published, I…smiled until my face ached and then drank until my stomach did, too.

9.At the moment, I’m writing an historical novel set in Far North Queensland. It’s new territory for me in several ways and I’m finding it thrilling and terrifying in equal measure.

10.When I’m stuck for an idea/word/phrase, I …(an activity) write. Even if it’s crap and nonsense to begin with, I find the act of writing (anything) is what gets me writing (well).

Emily is not the first author to reveal in Meet an Aussie Author that she works from a state-based Writers Centre, which attests to the value of these centres as places for authors to write.  NSW has more than any other state, WA comes in second with four, and because Melbourne is a UNESCO City of Literature I’m surprised to see from the ASA list that Victoria has only two: Writers Victoria (which offers studios and ‘cells’ for writing in) and a branch of the Australian Writers Centre (which appears to market writing courses rather than offering writing spaces).  I thought The Wheeler Centre was going to offer writing spaces but they’re not listed, so I guess they don’t.  And the State Library of Victoria – famous for a number of notable authors using it as a writing space – is now so noisy that only the very tolerant could hang out there to write the next Great Australian Novel.  But Emily’s space at the Macdowell Colony where she worked in 2015 looks very congenial, I love that restful Delft blue.

I’m very curious about that historical novel that Emily’s writing….

You can buy An Isolated Incident from Fishpond and good bookshops everywhere.


  1. Good interview/generous answers. It’s clear, both here and from the various reviews that Maguire is passionate and articulate about violence and prejudice towards women. The carping in my review about truck driving and the Hume Hwy are minor in this context, and in light of Maguire’s answers, maybe demonstrate the shortcomings of research compared with experience.


    • Indeed. Speaking for myself and my terror of outback spaces, I think I’d be relying on research too.
      Maybe you could – as a sideline – set yourself up as a consultant to authors who likewise want to wimp out on the outback experience but need it for a novel?!


  2. Wonderful interview, Lisa! I read Emily Maguire’s ‘Taming the Beast’ when I first read it years back. I still remember her interview at the end of the book in which she talks about how ‘Jane Eyre’ I inspired her and shares her thoughts on what it means to be a woman in today’s world. I also read an article by her in the Sydney Morning Herald on being an introvert – it was absolutely beautiful! Have you read it, Lisa? (It is here.) So, I am so happy to read her interview here. Thanks so much for hosting this interview, Lisa!


    • Hi VIshy, thanks for sharing that link about Emily being an introvert. It’s one of my bugbears too, that I used to feel that there was something wrong with me because I preferred being by myself. And then I did a Myers-Briggs test when I was on a course and learned that there are 16 personality types and we all need each other because we all bring something special to our circle of friends, family and workmates.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. love the format of this Lisa. Her comment on the need to be disciplined about research is something a lot of would be authors would benefit from hearing . I see too many books where its clear the writer became enamoured with all the detail they discovered and, having invested the time, feel compelled to share it with us. But it sticks out like a sore thumb….


    • Interesting that you say that, Karen, because I’ve just read your review of The Siege of Krishnapur, a fine book which was worthy of the Booker Prize, but was followed by The Singapore Grip which nearly drowned in its own research, ruining what could have been another great book.


      • I have Singapore Grip yet to read. Now I’m not looking forward to it …..


  4. Oh, I so agree with BookerTalk’s comment. And it is sooooo hard to leave out all those wonderful details that we discover researching. I sometimes feel quite ill deleting whole paragraphs of delicious information but the writing is all the better for it. Sigh.
    I say it every time but I’ll say it again. Thanks Lisa, for these wonderful insights into the lives of writers.


    • Hi Karenlee, thanks, but really, the thanks should go to the authors for being willing to participate:)

      Liked by 1 person

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