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Paul Dalla Rosa on An Exciting and Vivid Inner Life

We spoke to author Paul Dalla Rosa about the influences behind An Exciting and Vivid Inner Life, his celebrated debut short story collection that’s turning heads around the world.

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When did you start writing fiction? 

I started writing fiction around when I was 19. I’d never really intended to be a writer though I always read. Then at that age I came into contact with some pretty amazing contemporary short stories. I remember reading a pretty incredible story by Tom Cho in The Lifted Brow. I was reading The Paris Review and it was a very exciting time for the contemporary short story. I really was enamoured by it, so I started writing my own.

Who are the short story writers you are most influenced by? 

Truman Capote, Katherine Mansfield, Mary Gaitskill, Ottessa Moshfegh, Amie Barrodale, Elizabeth Ellen, Deb Olin Unferth.

Your stories take place all over the world – Dubai, New York City, Mallorca, Melbourne – why was it important to you to bring an international perspective to your collection? 

It was important for the collection because the collection isn’t exactly interested in one particular place but problems that span the globe. So it made more sense to have the stories set in different locations rather than having them all set in one place. That was able to do a lot of work that I then didn’t have to explicitly state in the writing, which would have made the individual stories poorer for it. Maybe a part of that comes from being cosmopolitan in certain ways or maybe it comes from the media we all consume, or the media I’ve consumed since childhood, and the dreams that came from it.

In 2019, one of the stories from your collection ‘Comme’ was shortlisted for The Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award, the world’s most prestigious prize for a single short story, and you were the youngest writer since Sally Rooney to do it. Can you tell us about that experience? Was it daunting or thrilling or both? 

I don’t think it was daunting. I guess because I never expected it I was able to enjoy it. I flew in to London for a week for the award and was jetlagged for most of it. It was fun to be in London and I guess enter this whole other world. It was incredibly different from my daily life. I was meeting some pretty incredible writers and got to meet the editors I’d worked with at Granta. The experience was good for me. It pushed me to finish the book. I was taking my time before then and when I got back, I sort of thought, ‘Yeah, what am I waiting for? I can finish it’, and so the next year I did.

Which Real Housewives franchise is the best? 

I’m not going to answer that.


Paul Dalla Rosa will discuss An Exciting and Vivid Inner Life as part of Melbourne City Reads in an event live at the Wheeler Centre on Thursday 16 June 2022.

As part of the Melbourne City Reads initiative, you can purchase a copy of Paul Dalla Rosa’s An Exciting and Vivid Inner Life for the special price of $22.99 (RRP $29.99) from particating Melbourne bookstores: Dymocks MelbourneHill of ContentMary Martin BookshopPaperback Bookshop and Readings.

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