28 May, 2010

writing real lives

can historians write literary narrative? can writers write history if they're not historians? do you have to know your real subject to write about them? what methods are used to capture the real life on the page?

three queensland writers opened up to their audience last night at thuringowa library to reveal the essence of creative nonfiction and their work within the genre.

Bob James spoke about his oral history project for his masters' at James Cook University on the Gugu Badhun people. Over a three year period he conducted many interviews, attended many camps, and took many photographs to produce a historical work with the voices of the people involved faithfully recorded.

Deborah Carlyon spoke about her journey to realisation of her book Mama Kuma: One woman, two cultures - an exploration of her Papua New Guinean grandmother's tribal life. This book was awarded the Queensland Premiers Literary Awards (2001) for an Emerging Queensland Author. Deborah interviewed her grandmother while she was still living, and then interviewed family members from their PNG village, as well as researching in libraries and archives to establish facts and dates to satisfy a western audience's demand.
She noted that the PNG villagers were not so concerned with pinpointing dates and ages.
She had asked 'how old was Mama Kuma when that happened?' and received the response, 'she didn't have breasts then, she was still a girl'.

Dr Lindsay Simpson spoke about her path to nonfiction writing. She has written about famous and infamous people, some she has met, others she has not. Coming from a journalistic background and working as a court reporter, Dr Simpson developed a love for finding out more. she said that a newspaper feature was not big enough - she needed to move into books.
she has interviewed prisoners in jail, researched, learned to dive when she was writing about a diver, and has co-written with other authors. Dr Simpson is currently Head of Journalism at James Cook University.

An inspiring evening, organised by the fabulous Lifelong Learning Team at CityLibraries Townsville.

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