18 September 2014

Stella Schools Interview: Carrie Tiffany

The Stella Prize chats with Carrie Tiffany, Stella Prize-winning author of Mateship with Birds and a speaker with the new Stella Prize Schools Program


Stella: What were your favourite books as a child?

Carrie: I had a Child’s Treasury of Verse that I poured over. It was pretty dreary stuff by today’s standards but I loved the smell and heft of it, the heavy cotton stitching across the spine and even a few of the poems, although I was very disappointed with myself for not being able to learn them off by heart.

Stella: Did you mostly study books by male or female writers at school? Did any particularly resonate?

Carrie: I don’t remember reading or studying any books at all at school. Can this be right? Perhaps I’ve blacked it out. I do remember borrowing Elizabeth Jolley’s Palomino from the local shire library when I was around fifteen. I thought it was going to be a story about pretty horses. It both terrified and excited me.

Stella: How did your interest in reading and writing develop over time?

Carrie: I read what was around me as a child – my mother’s Georgette Heyers, a few leather-bound Dickens that we brought with us from the UK.  When I moved to the Northern Territory to work as a park ranger in my early twenties I did a lot of reading. I joined the library in Alice Springs as a remote reader and books were sent out to me on the tourist buses.

Stella: Is there a book you think all young people should read?

Carrie: There’s no canon and nor should there be. There’s a lot of stumble and chance involved in finding your books. Reading is an intimate process of discovery.

Stella: What is advice  would you give to young aspiring writers?

Carrie: Read. Read avidly. Read ardently. Read widely.