Working with Words: Romy Ash

Romy Ash’s debut novel, Floundering, was shortlisted for last year’s Vogel Award; it’s published by Text this month. Her writing has been published in Frankie, the Big issue and Zen. We spoke to her for our Working with Words series.

What was the first piece of writing you had published?

It was a short story in Voiceworks magazine and I remember the acceptance letter coming by mail to my Brisbane house. I was so excited, and probably 18-19 years old.

What’s the best part of your job?

Being a writer means that you can live other lives/jobs through your characters’ eyes, or when researching a story. It’s a way for me to do everything.

What’s the worst part of your job?

Long hours at the computer.

What’s been the most significant moment in your writing career so far?

The publication of my debut novel Floundering.

What’s the best (or worst) advice you’ve received about writing?

The best: an edit should be brutal.

If you weren’t making your living by writing, what do you think you’d be doing instead?

Well, I don’t just make my living by writing. Sometimes I waitress, sometimes I cook for people, and I teach at the University of Melbourne. But for a while, as a kid, I wanted to be a geologist; I loved going on walks and looking at rock formations. I loved looking at the layers in a rock face – it’s like looking into the past.

There’s much debate on whether creative writing can be taught – what do you think?

Writing is a craft, it’s hard work, it requires practice and persistence; just having talent is not enough. I don’t see anything wrong with fostering talent and giving a writer a place to breathe through writing programs.

What’s your advice for someone wanting to be a writer?

Read, read, read, read.

Do you buy your books online, in a physical bookshop, or both?

I usually buy from my local independent booksellers, but if there’s something I can’t get there I buy online.

If you could go out to dinner with any fictional character, who would it be and why?

A dinner with Roald Dahl’s the Twits would be riotous.

What’s the book that’s had the most significant impact on your life or work – and why?

Wake in Fright by Kenneth Cook for its thirst-inducing prose and tight storytelling.

Romy Ash will be a guest in tonight’s instalment of our Debut Mondays series, along with Ailsa Piper, Bruce Scates and Oliver Mol. Come along to The Moat, 6.15pm - 7.15pm.

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