We are thrilled to introduce you to Sydney writer, Amanda Jayne whose short story, ‘Dress Code’ is published in the 2021 Slinkies anthology. In this interview with publishing intern, Jessica Duff, Amanda talks about the origins of her story, writing across fiction and non-fiction genres and who she is reading right now. To find out more about this year’s Slinkies, join us on Friday October 1 at 8pm for the online launch of this excellent publication as well as literary trivia, giveaways and the lowdown about Slinkies 2022. Register here.Were the characters in ‘Dress Code’ inspired by anyone from your personal life?
No one in particular, although the main character does share some of my grandad’s attitudes towards work and labour. My grandad was a country doctor and worked hard to provide for his eight kids and grandkids. I think this prioritisation of work is still common today, though it may have taken on a new flavour for younger people. For my grandad, working hard was connected to his Protestantism and his role as a provider for the family, but now it seems hard work is increasingly bound up with capitalism and labour as identity.
Where is your favourite place to write?
Pre-COVID, I had a few favourite cafés that would let me sit with my laptop and a coffee for a few hours, but these days I like to write out on my back deck overlooking the garden.
I think perhaps it has made me more aware of the mechanics of narration, because that was my particular area of interest. I enjoy paying attention to the way a story is told, and the relationship between the voices of the characters, narrator, and author. There’s so much skill in allowing a character to speak for themselves, while narrating in a way that reveals their subjectivity and bias.
What are your favourite authors and books? How have they influenced your writing?
It’s always so difficult to name just a few! Recently, I’ve really enjoyed The Blind Owl by Sadegh Hedayat – it’s claustrophobic in the best possible way and reminded me of Ingeborg Bachmann’s Malina. I appreciate inventive narration, interiority, and a bit of strangeness. I’ll always go back to re-reading Christa Wolf, Doris Lessing, and Simone de Beauvoir’s autobiography, and Carmen Maria Machado is one of my favourite contemporary writers.
On the question of influence: I’m sure my writing is coloured in some way by what I read, though I do find myself loving books that aren’t necessarily the kind of thing I would write myself.
What do you like about the short story form?
I like that a short story allows you to experiment with ideas that might not go the distance in a longer piece. You can explore a character you might not want to spend too much time with, test out a new style of narration, or play out a situation that might start feeling a bit stale in the long run.
What other projects are you currently working on? Where can people catch you on the internet?
I have a few short stories on the go, and I’m working on a manuscript for a novel in the background. It’s about four characters who are all reading the same self-help book and slowly becoming disillusioned with its doctrine of individualism.
Follow Amanda on Twitter @mxAmandaJayne.