Susannah Fraser Interviews Kate Liston-Mills

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 Feature image from KATELISTON-MILLS 

Growing up as a young girl in Pambula, Kate was “super uncool”. She read the Silver Brumby while everyone else discussed The Baby Sitter’s Club. She watched the Man from Snowy River most days of the week and spent far too many afternoons bored at her Nan’s. These Australian themes appear to have left their mark on Kate and are explored in her new book, THE WATERFOWL ARE DRUNK! which launches on the 10th June in Wollongong. This short story collection is based in her hometown of Pambula and traces loss, hope and connection through a family living in a small coastal Australian town.

These short stories are woven together to paint a portrait of a family experiencing the ups and downs of life, in a community where relationships are important and tea and bickies are the comforts that make the roller coaster all the more sweet, and a little more bearable.  I won’t delve too much into the content here, but you can read our REVIEW.  I will highly recommend you grab yourself a copy and read it. It is a fantastic book.

I was running late for my Skype interview with Kate. As I clutched my bags and scrambled for a seat on the bus, I managed to text her a quick update on my whereabouts. Kate messaged back – she was in the garden and covered in mud. Would that be ok? She would feed the dog and get tea ready. She sounded like a character in her book – warm, friendly, domestic. 

As the bus jerked through tight inner city streets, I realised I have known Kate, distantly, for about ten years.  I met her on a stinking hot summer’s night in Sydney through a mutual friend. She has popped up in my life about once a year, at various gatherings. My impressions of her were always of fabulous hair, a hearty laugh, and an ability to talk to anyone. However, I knew nothing about Kate, the Writer, and on the verge of her book launch, I was curious to find out!  Continue reading

The Waterfowl Are Drunk! Kate Liston-Mills

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Feature image of Panboola Wetlands from MANUSCRAPPED


How I came to be reading The Waterfowl Are Drunk! is a long story.  In short, I received an advance unedited proof for reviewing purposes.  The long answer starts eighteen years ago when KATE LISTON-MILLS and I walked into the same English class.

From the first page it’s clear why Liston-Mills was awarded WRITER OF THE MONTH from the South Coast Writers Centre for her poetry.  The Waterfowl Are Drunk! is a poetic treasure consisting of seven short interwoven stories.Kate Liston-Mills, kate liston, waterfowl are drunk, kate liston mills writer, Emerging writer, emerging writers festival, what is an emerging writer, young writer, your writers, australian writers blog, blogger or writer

The opening story Bound sets a quiet, chilling tone as a fox stalks a nest of hatching swans.  Immediately the reader is initiated into what will become recurring motifs in the work; loss, the bonds of family and the lasting effect absence can have on a community.

Hey Porter, Hey Porter deals with the difficult issue of a child’s diagnosis with Down syndrome.  Parents, Edward and Hazel, sit with their three year old Lottie and listen as the doctor explains the term.

After a few moments of stares and throat clearing, Hazel shakes her head and stands, “Rubbish! Lottie’s normal… just a slow learner, that’s all.” Her eyes are glazed. Ed tries to squeeze his wife’s hand, but shaking, she lugs Lottie out of the room, leaving him with the mongrel doctor.

How does a diagnosis change the child?  While Edward is driven to find answers, for Hazel it changes nothing.  Disability or issues of difference is another recurring theme in The Waterfowl are Drunk!

Time is marked by historical events; war, cricket, technology and changing attitudes of disability.
Continue reading

Susie Mander, An Interview

Susie Mander, Bird of Chaos, Harpies Curse


australian authors, young authors, female writer, female writer australian, Susie ManderMeet Susie Mander, a Sydney based writer who from her earliest memories has been writing and telling stories as she walked round and round a huge date palm in her back yard.  In just one year this incredible lady has released her first novel and given birth to her first child.

She wrote her first novel (seven pages long) somewhere around the age of ten and by the time she started high school she had already accumulated a pile of rejection letters from publishers.  But it was not a direct path to the release of her first novel.

With a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master’s of Teaching, Susie Mander has found herself in a number of different careers, Teaching English, designing a mobile phone app and getting involved in running a tech start up, before finally realising that writing was the only thing that was going to make her truly happy.

 After being released on the 10th of August, just under fifty days before her daughter was born, Bird of Chaos; Book one in the Harpies Curse, has already been downloaded hundreds of times.

As Mander gets to work on Book Two, Manuscrapped caught up with this new mother and Emerging Writer to find out which was harder; giving birth or publishing a book? Continue reading

That First Week as a Writer

24 September 2012…started looking online to see what information is out there to help me become a writer.  I want the best chance of succeeding at this new job of mine, and I have always been a huge fan of reading and researching and writing lists.  After two undergrad degrees I am a professional student.

I have found soooo many ads for Creative Writing Courses – Lots of Bogs written by writers – Realising that there is so much for me to read.  I have got a lot of work to do.

Found something very interesting after a little while of searching.  Realised that ‘The Emerging Writers Festival’ is coming to Sydney in two weeks.  Thinking about going.  Realise I am not ready for that sort of thing.  Everything happening way to fast.  Need a way to make myself accountable to my promise to become a writer…consider getting a website as a sort of public Writers Diary to help keep me on track. 

26 September 2012…Is this even possible?  Like really?  What am I doing?  Right now I am 26 years old and work full time in a cafe in the Inner West of Sydney.  I didn’t even study creative writing at University! I have tried my hand at a few different creative professions, why do I think that this might work?  Insane.

But I can’t stop writing.  I have been writing for years really…

29th September 2012…

Today I told my lover I was going to become a writer, like from now! Like right now!

It seemed strange to say it out aloud and make it so final.  Up until this moment I have always just talked about writing, enjoying writing, joking about books I could write and asking him really late at night….’Do you think I could ever be a writer – like a real one?’

I had not told him yet because I was worried, not that he would laugh at me and think I was completely ridiculous – But I was worried that he would hold me to it, once I said it outloud.  I didn’t want him to know, because I wanted to still be able to change my mind, or if I kept it to myself then no one would know when I failed.

But that is not what this is about.  The decision to become a writer must feel real.  Every Day.  And you must be able to talk to your partner about your work.

Instead of laughing at me and guessing at how long it would be before I quit, he went online.  In a few moments he had purchased me a new domain name, organised hosting for a blog and paid for one non refundable ticket to The Emerging Writers Festival in a few weeks.


Now I have to get out of working at the cafe that weekend! Shit!

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