Welcome Emma Viskic to my blog. Emma is a Melbourne based crime fiction writer. She has won two of Australia’s premier crime friction short story awards: the Ned Kelly S.D. Harvey Award (2014) and the New England Thunderbolt Award (2013). She has had stories placed and shortlisted in numerous other competitions and been published in Award Winning Australian Writing. She wrote the final draft of Resurrection Bay while being mentored through the UK WoMentoring Project. Emma is also a classically trained musician.
When I was a child… I spent most weekends and evenings playing ‘Adventure’ with my brother and sister. We’d travel to distant planets on our backyard swings, exploring strange landscapes and fighting monsters. For some reason this often involved real life danger to my (much younger) brother, but it never ended with a trip to hospital. Well, hardly ever.
My favourite book of 2015… I read a lot of great books this year, but one that has really stayed with me is Black Rock, White City by Alec Patrić. It follows the story of Jovan, a Serbian refugee and poet, who now works as a janitor in an outer-suburban Melbourne hospital. There is a thriller-like plot threaded through the novel, but it’s the examination of Jovan’s character, his past losses and present struggles, that draws you in. It’s a raw, sad, beautiful book.
Inspiration…where did the inspiration for your protagonist in Resurrection Bay – Caleb Zelic, come from ?
My murky subconscious! My rough drafts are directed by pure instinct. It’s only when I’ve written a few chapters that I stop and examine what I’ve got. A first I couldn’t work out why Caleb was deaf. In fact, I couldn’t even work out why he was a man. Where was the kick-arse female detective I’d always assumed I’d write? So I examined what I’d written and began to see glimpses of a girl I’d gone to school with. She shared many of the same qualities as Caleb: she was watchful, proud, hyper-aware, and profoundly deaf. But Caleb shared traits with other people I’d known too, all of them men. Wonderful, complicated, uncommunicative men. So in many ways, I think he was born of my need to understand the people around me.
Research… To research Resurrection Bay I spoke with people in the Deaf and hard-of-hearing communities, tried to learn to lip-read, and began studying Auslan. Because Caleb is so determined to live in the hearing world, I went to my first Auslan class still unsure if he was going to use sign language at all. Ten minutes into my first lesson I knew he had to. It’s a beautiful language, and the perfect way to demonstrate Caleb’s closeness with people. So he speaks English most of the time, but signs with those he loves.
Tell me more about the Womentoring Project…
The WoMentoring Project is an international mentoring service that teams professional literary women with emerging female writers. I wrote the final draft of Resurrection Bay while being mentored by writer and editor, Janette Currie. It was a life-changing experience. Before I was accepted into the program I was writing in a vacuum, with no feedback or advice. Janette gave me guidance and support, and taught me how to see my own work with fresh eyes.
How do the worlds of performing and teaching inform your writing?
Performing and teaching have both been great foundations for my writing. So much of teaching is about psychology, particularly when you teach instrumental music. It’s given me lots of insight into human behaviour. I also find the detailed work of writing similar to playing music. I read my work aloud the same way I practise the clarinet, playing and replaying phrases, adjusting a word here, an emphasis there.
My next book is… Book two in the Caleb Zelic series. It begins six months after the events of Resurrection Bay. I don’t want to give away too much, but I think it’s safe to say that things are looking a bit grim for poor Caleb.
Next year I … (something personal, plans of travel, festivals you will be appearing at, concerts you will be attending/or performing …)
I’m really looking forward to the Perth Writer’s Festival. I’ll be on a few panels, but also spending a fair bit of time gawping at some of my favourite writers.
I love…Eggplant. If I had to choose between only ever eating chocolate or eggplant… I’d choose chocolate, of course. But it’d be a close thing.
The best thing about being a writer… Is disappearing into the words. When the writing is going well I fall into the story and nothing else matters.
You can follow Emma on twitter here: @EmmaViskic