This is the first in a series of three blogs about the writers recognised in the 2016 black&write! Indigenous Writing Fellowship Competition.
Congratulations CLAIRE COLEMAN and DYLAN COLEMAN who have been awarded a black&write! Fellowship this year.
AUTHOR PROFILE: CLAIRE COLEMAN
Claire Coleman is a writer from Western Australia. She identifies with the South Coast Noongar people. Her family are associated with the area around Ravensthorpe and Hopetoun. Claire grew up in a Forestry’s settlement in the middle of a tree plantation, where her dad worked, not far out of Perth.
She wrote her Fellowship-winning manuscript ‘Terra Nullius’ while travelling around Australia in a caravan. When asked about writing on the go, Claire said “The hardest thing was finding the time to write when you’re on the road, you’re only in one place for not very long, so it was hard to pack up camp and move again when all I wanted was to sit down and write!”
‘Terra Nullius’ is a speculative novel set in the great southern region of Western Australia told with an intimate understanding of the realisms of Aboriginal lives.
Claire started writing the story after visiting a memorial acknowledging a massacre of her family’s ancestors near Ravensthorpe, WA.
“When I started the book I didn’t know if I could write it. I didn’t know if I could tell what I wanted to,” said the author. “I deliberately used the style of historical fiction, then there’s a big science fiction twist.”
Claire has been a science fiction fan from a young age. Among her inspirations are JRR Tolkien, and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. “I read Lord of the Rings at age 8. It was probably the most profound novel in my life; it wheedled its way into my soul. The epic narrative, no clear right and wrong, characters that weren’t all good or all bad, it spoke to me.”
When asked why she writes, Claire responded, “I write to provoke, to switch something. I want to make that connection with another person, maybe change something. Hopefully make them empathise. Empathy is the hardest thing to provoke.”
She also said “The best way to sneak in a statement without people realising is through sci-fi. The best novels are controversial. I wanted to make a connection, so that people sitting on the edge will fall off it.”
Did you see the Cleverman premiere last week? Claire joins the growing ranks of up and coming Indigenous Australian creators who are using science fiction to tell their stories.
We can’t wait until everyone can read your story Claire!
Next week: Author Profile Dylan Coleman