Today I welcome much-lauded writer and author, Mirandi Riwoe, to the attic. There’s so much gorgeousness in Mirandi’s post about her childhood writing dreams, the first book she ever wrote and her surprise at discovering not everybody wants to write.
So read on …
Mirandi’s novel Stone Sky Gold Mountain won the Queensland Literary Award for Fiction, 2020. Her novella The Fish Girl won Seizure’s Viva la Novella V and was shortlisted for the Stella Prize and the Queensland Literary Award for Fiction.
Doesn’t Everyone Want to Be a Writer?
I grew up in a household filled with books. My mum was such an avid reader. Still is. When I picture her, she is sitting forward in an armchair, her small body huddled over a book. My baby brother used to hand her anything with print on it – a novel, tv guide, phone book – just so she’d sit down so he could climb into her lap.
I, too, couldn’t get enough of reading. Enid Blytons, Nancy Drews, Agatha Christies, The Scarlet Pimpernel. We were allowed to circle as many books as we wanted on the book club forms that came to school. I realise now how privileged that was. As much as I love my children to read, I curate how many books they choose and I pay for.
A few years ago, after many years of writing and finally having my first book published, my sister asked me why I wanted to be a writer, and I said, puzzled, ‘Doesn’t everyone want to be a writer?’ Apparently not. But I think it’s natural that I’d want to emulate those authors who I admired so much.
Recently, my father dug out my earliest work, which he’d very carefully carted around through a number of moves, nestled between a folded piece of A4 paper. Pages extracted from an exercise book, the words painstakingly scrawled in lead pencil. A booklet I wrote, probably when I was about eight or nine years old, titled The Invisible Pianist, a Tania Moore Mystery. (And, reader, I wasn’t very far off from what my first novel many, many years later would be called: She be Damned, a Heloise Chancey Mystery).
Crime fiction was always a favourite of mine and I dreamed of one day becoming a crime writer. I revel in the mental acrobats of working out who-dunnit, and I wanted to try my own hand at crafting the puzzle. I yearned (yearn) to be part of a club, like the one that Agatha Christie and other crime writers formed, called the Detection Club.
I also liked that, in writing a crime novel, I sort of had plot rules to follow – that there had to be a crime, a mystery, clues and red herrings. I could use the familiar devices of crime fiction as a vehicle for themes that interested me, like those to do with cultural diversity and gender. And it was fun to write.
However, sometimes you realise that your forte does not necessarily lie where you might want it to or where you started. So, even though I’m envious of writers such as Robotham, Harper and Viskic, I’ve come to accept that I’ll have to leave the Detection Club to them.
Luckily, though, in writing my Heloise novels, I found a space as an author of historical fiction. And it was the research into my Heloise series that led me to writing The Fish Girl and Stone Sky Gold Mountain. These works are not crime fictions but still highlight my interest in cultural diversity and feminist issues, as do my other novellas and short fiction.
I’m sure my nine-year-old self would be thrilled to know that she finally made it as an author, although she might be a little disappointed that she never got that Dagger Award.