Brigid Lowry read You Belong Here before anyone else asides from my PhD supervisors. She taught me that you don’t need to bring things to a meet-up to be worthy of meeting-up with; She taught me life is not in the joins but the threads that fray; she taught me that good things come to those who work. I had the better part (in every sense) of a year in her company, my first son gone from bub to toddler as we went. In that year we worked on words, worlds, and ways of seeing.
Brigid is uncompromisingly, unapologetically, delightfully Brig. As such, she is very, very special to me.
Ask me why I love Susan Midalia and I’ll tell you it’s because she dropped the c-bomb on stage, she rocks boots, and because there’s nothing quite so joyous as leaning down for a Susan hug, especially given she’s five foot and I’m like three metres tall. Move past that, though, and you get the real Susan: a kind, patient, no-bullshit but incredibly supportive woman, and a great guide as one struggles to find their feet and their strength as an emerging author.
Ryan is incredibly Scottish. I say this because, while I barely understood our first couple of conversations, I very much enjoyed them. He has this way about him, a quiet humility they should hand out to writers upon their literary debut. Say, ‘look, it’s great, your book is out; just don’t be dicks about it.’ He is also the kind of writer who eats books for breakfast, the story mechanic that wrote the manual on linguistic play and experimentation. As such, he’s already fast establishing himself as a national literary treasure, and I’m honoured to call him a friend.
I knew I was going to be friends with Brooke Dunnell from the moment I met her. Since those heady days in 2011, I’ve watched her grow into one of the best writers and writing teachers in WA. She always conducts herself with optimal professionalism, and, let’s be honest, far greater sartorial choices than my not-so-fine self. One winter, she let me stay at her flat in Melbourne, and never once admitted that my home-made panna cotta looked more like some low-rent tofu than a dessert befitting of Dunnell dynasty. She writes insightful prose and reads as though she touches every word, feels its surface for flaws, discolouration or some other subtle imperfection.
I call Heather Delfs, ‘Delfs’ because I see us as literary/parenting crossover trailblazers. This means we’re both parents of young children and are surprised we ever get any writing done. But we write, and we read each other’s stuff (her piece ‘Hraunfossar’ is epic in the best possible way, a literary Sigur Ros-like surge of motion and emotion). Because she’s a good friend, she also read an early version of You Belong Here and said, ‘WTF?’ in the most polite, gentle way possible. I call her ‘Delfs’ because we’re writing not to have books out but to break molds, and while we make a mess from time-to-time, there’s no one I trust more to spot the cracks in my work; to push down the clay, say ‘go again,’ in the hope I can create something truly special.