We spoke to Bri Lee, author of Eggshell Skull, about her experience at EWF and her career success.
Tell us about your first appearance at EWF.
I did five events at my first EWF: panels about literary entrepreneurship and imposter syndrome, an author talk, and a workshop. My favourite thing of all was being MC for the Amazing Babes night of storytelling. I was extremely nervous, but it was a hoot and a real honour. The crowd was so supportive. Many of the women who spoke, Alison Whitaker for example, have gone on to even bigger and better things.
Your career has absolutely skyrocketed since Eggshell Skull – what have been some of the highlights?
Getting a cover blurb from Helen Garner is up there. Apart from that it’s just reader responses. Sometimes they make me laugh and sometimes they make me cry. Knowing my work is reaching across time and space to have such a profound effect on so many people, well, that’s pretty much all I can hope for as a writer.
You have combined your law experience and writing talent in such a powerful way to fight for change. What led you to advocacy?
I don’t know how much longer I can do it for, to be honest, I’m finding it really draining. But I have a career now thanks to the success of Eggshell Skull, and I feel really responsible to try to leave things better than how I found them. I suppose I am sensitive to things I perceive to be unjust. Also, I believe there should be roles for ‘legal communicators’ in the same way we value and appreciate ‘science communicators’ because people affected by laws have the right to understand them and fight for their improvement. So much of the current system is opaque and inaccessible. It just shits me.
The festival is an absolutely critical (and joyous) early milestone and point-of-connection for so many of us in the industry.
Can you share some advice to writers starting out?
Don’t worry about talent! Just turn up to the page. It’s so much easier to make bad words better than it is to conjure words from nowhere onto a blank page. Read Bird by Bird by Annie Lammott. Better to ask forgiveness than permission.
What impact has EWF had on you as an artist?
I think it’s pretty telling that my first EWF in 2016 had the phenomenal Michaela McGuire at the helm, and now in 2019 she’s the Artistic Director of Sydney Writers Festival and I just sold out my big solo event there. The festival is an absolutely critical (and joyous) early milestone and point-of-connection for so many of us in the industry.
When they’re first leaving the Shire and Samwise Gamgee says to Frodo, “If I take one more step, I’ll be the farthest away from home I’ve ever been,” that’s it. For me, EWF was the precipice.
Support the future of Australian storytelling by becoming an EWF Pen Pal or adding a donation to your cart at checkout.
Photographer: Darcy Starr