Sue Goldstiver, author of Empty Rooms
What inspired you to write this story?
I was staying in a deserted unit block on the Gold Coast and it began to feel increasingly isolated, and eerie. At night, I’d sit down to write with lightning flashing onto black water out to sea, and the story of a missing girl emerged.
What do you like about the long story form?
It allows time to develop a character by exposing them to a range of experiences, yet remains concise enough to maintain a suspenseful storyline.
The Carmel Bird Long Story Award was open to women writers only – how does the fact that you are a woman writing in contemporary Australia impact on you and your writing?
It serves as whip to work harder. A culture is built on its fictional narratives as much as anything, so we need more female story-tellers!
How does your usual writing process work? Where do the ideas for your stories come from?
My stories emerge out of things I can’t get out of my head after an experience or conversation. A current fascination is how we react to information about something such as climate change. I started to talk to people about what they felt, and why, then reviewed media stories about the topic. I arrived at a belief that ‘fact’ is the most simplistic and ridiculous term in our language, and a passion to examine that turned into a story. It has two principal characters, one with a fervent belief in the need for environmental change, the other a sceptic, but both lacking awareness of the emotions that colour their perspectives.
What writers do you turn to when you’re feeling uninspired? Do you have any tricks for getting motivated?
You mean apart from food and alcohol? I think my principle motivation has always been the same — I find people fascinating, frustrating, joyful, hurtful and essential. I write to examine that or just cathartically expel it, but mainly to say if we look at ourselves hard enough we will understand and enjoy this being alive thing a lot more. There are so many authors I admire, and for different reasons. Elizabeth George for intricate plotting, Peter Temple for laugh-out-loud dialogue in our wonderful Australian vernacular, and Tim Winton for phrases that lodge in your mind like a splinter in your foot. There is something clean and clear about their writing, and I attempt to replicate that clarity in my stories.
Sue Goldstiver recently completed a Master’s program in Arts and Media at Griffith University in Queensland. Her dissertation explored the use of Gothic tropes in Australian literary works, indulging a long-term fascination with a genre that peeks behind the façade.
Book available in ePub and mobi formats at Tomely