Viva La Novella Shortlister – Marlee Jane Ward

What do you do in your day job/life?

Late last year I quit my career-y type job and totally abandoned my life to move to Melbourne. It was an equally rad and terrifying series of events, but I wanted more from life and more adventures. Right now I work two casual jobs (with sights on a third!) so I can pay the bills, have adventures and write as much as I can.

What’s the earliest thing you remember writing?

I wrote my first piece of fiction on my first day of kindergarten: an illustrated work entitled and in its entirety, 'I can swim.' At the time I could not swim so it's better to call it fiction than face the fact that I was a five-year-old liar. Otherwise, I discovered my penchant for word-wrangling during the creative sections of mid- and end-of-year English tests. I lived for those little prompts until I realised I could just write things on my own, in my own time.

When do you like to write?

There's no specific time in which I like to get things done, though during the day is better for me than night. 'Where' is important: I'm mostly a café writer, so I pick a place I like and go there daily for a few hours. I feel like buying expensive coffee is an onus to accomplish more, because I'm making an investment in my work and don't want to waste the money. I am working on writing at home, though, trying to resist the urge to procrastinate via cleaning.

If you could brunch with anyone, who would it be?

If I could set it up for tomorrow, Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer. I could talk words, genre and story with Neil, and music, memoir and ladystuff with Amanda. Then, the singalong. If we're talking anyone, I'd want a morning get-together with Stephen King. I've been reading his stuff since I was quite young and I feel like his books played a big part in shaping me as a person and a writer. I'd really dig talking aliens and monsters over avocado toast with SK.

Most important thing the Internet has taught you:

I marvel daily at the notion that anything a person could want to learn is now available online. All you need is a PC, a connection and the will to learn. Isn't that just a trip? I say it often as a joke, but it really is a beautiful time to be alive. The lines between those who have access to knowledge and those who don't are slowly fading and I think it's going to make for some amazing advancements and beautiful insights from minds and voices that have gone unheard until now. That's big picture stuff, but on a smaller, more personal scale, amongst other things I've taught myself HTML via the W3, how to cook, and how to play the ukulele badly.

A quotation you have used more than once:

I'm pretty partial to Chuck Wendig's 'Art harder, motherfucker.' I think a lot of people see writing as some kind of divine inspiration that comes at will, and I used to be the same. Now I know that it's more about working hard, every day. Whenever I'm being lazy about my writing, I think to myself, 'you should be arting harder than this.'

What’s next?

Right now I'm writing the sequel to my novella (it's gonna be a trilogy, everyone loves a trilogy). I'm always at work on one or two murky short story ideas at any given time, as well as tapping away at a memoir-y type deal when I'm feeling blocked, because I know how that story goes and it helps to get the words flowing. I've got so many ideas churning away in my mind so it's really just a matter of having the time, getting my shit together and knowing the right way to get them out.