We are thrilled to introduce you to published writer Svetlana Sterlin whose short story ‘Violets’ is published in the 2022 Slinkies anthology. In this interview with Kathleen Kelly (publishing intern), Svetlana talks about the inspiration behind ‘Violets’, her favourite genres, favourite Australian author and the poetry collection she is working on at the moment. To find out more about this year’s Slinkies, join us on 29 September at 7.30 pm AEST for the online launch of this excellent publication and the lowdown about Slinkies 2022. Register here.
What was the inspiration behind ‘Violets’?
The car crash was inspired by an accident that actually occurred on the road I used to take to school everyday. My friend’s mum happened to be at the scene when the incident took place. She called an ambulance and sat with the other woman in her car, holding her hand and trying to ease the shock. While waiting for help to arrive, they bonded over the fact that they had similar first names. Sadly, while they were still holding hands, the woman died.
Seven years later, that light pole is still dented.
Obviously, most of the story is fiction, but when I listened to my friend’s mum recount the events, I could see how much the experience had affected her and it really moved me.
Do you identify with either of the Violets?
To an extent, I would say I identify with Violet. She embodies many of the values I saw in people I knew growing up around middle-class suburbs, especially some of the stay-at-home-mums and their sheltered children. It was the kind of future I always dreaded for myself. That isn’t to say that Violet’s life choices aren’t valid, but just that these dead-end suburbs don’t always foster progressiveness, ambition, or any kind of excitement. Even when these settings are being gentrified and redeveloped, they seem to remain stagnant—and I identify with Violet’s desire to break out of this cycle.
What are your favourite genres to write in?
I like a bit of everything (I also write poetry and screenplays) but at the moment, I’m mainly focused on YA stories. Coming-of-age is my favourite genre to consume, and I feel—perhaps naively—that I’ve gained enough hindsight to start writing from my own experiences, but not so much hindsight that I no longer remember what it’s like to be a teenager.
I usually lean towards literary fiction, whatever that means, but I’ll often throw in elements of magical realism.
How do you prefer to write your stories: laptop, desktop, pen and paper, voice recordings?
Definitely on my laptop; my handwriting is too messy, and my thoughts aren’t organised enough to articulate aloud!
When I’m brainstorming ideas, I tend to vomit my thoughts into my Notes app. This often happens on the go or when I’m ten seconds away from falling asleep, so it’s genuinely unintelligible stuff and I hope nobody else ever has to read those! But for drafting and revising, I use my laptop, where I can easily make changes and keep track of multiple drafts.
Do you have a favourite Australian author?
Australian literature is so rich, but if I had to pick one, it would be Trent Dalton. His prose is gorgeous, and his characters are incredibly captivating; it’s really refreshing to read about places you’ve actually been to or can realistically picture in your head.
He’s also such a genuine and empathetic person—see here for evidence! I’d highly recommend attending any events or festivals where he’s on the lineup.
Are you writing anything at the moment?
Always! Currently, I’m working on a poetry collection about my experiences growing up as an immigrant and a swimmer. A lot of what I’ve been writing lately stems from these experiences and what it was like to be coached by my dad, who faced frequent unemployment. I’ve also been working on a pilot script for a YA drama inspired by these same experiences, and an outline for a coming-of-age feature about female friendship.
Where can we find you on the socials?
Everything else is on my LinkTree: @svetlanasterlin or https://linktr.ee/svetlanasterlin