Behind the mike – Mr Mahoney interviews Lucy Treloar and Tony Birch #BookWeek

As part of Book Week this year, we had novelists Lucy Treloar and Tony Birch visit to talk to the Year 11s. Tony made the long list for this year’s Miles Franklin Award for his new novel Ghost River and Lucy is the on the shortlist for her debut novel, Salt Creek, with the winner announced on Friday. Tony made the shortlist with his previous novel, Blood.
When asked about the importance of prizes Lucy said she was a bit conflicted and tried not to attach too much importance to them, saying the winner was often a bit of a lottery. Tony, who pointed out he had been on shortlists for eight different prizes, agreed, saying he thought novels that were far superior sometimes weren’t even nominated for prizes.

Both writers talked about their paths to becoming writers, which took some time, with both raising families and working in other jobs before publishing their first works. The students were interested in Tony’s account of being expelled from two different schools and finishing his education at night school years later before going on to complete a PhD and becoming an academic.

They discussed the importance of telling the stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australian fiction and Lucy talked about her concern to get that right in Salt Creek in particular. Tony is of Koori heritage himself and says he often thinks of characters as Aboriginal but doesn’t necessarily identify them as such in his novels.

Both writers were engaging and generous with their replies, giving the students plenty to think about.

– Mr Blair Mahoney

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