The Stella Prize chats with Ellen van Neerven, author of Heat and Light
Stella: Who is your favourite woman?
Ellen: My mum, without a doubt. She is amazing.
Stella: Which writers have shaped your work?
Ellen: Louise Erdrich, Junot Diaz, Lisa Bellear, Dorothy Porter, Oodgeroo Noonuccal, Annie Proulx, Kristina Olsson, David Vann.
Stella: Is there a writer you aspire to be like?
Ellen: I’d like to write beautifully across poetry, short fiction and nonfiction, as Louise Erdrich does.
Stella: Why did you become a writer?
Ellen: To play with words and tell stories in a way I never could in conversations.
Stella: Do you care what other people think?
Ellen: Yes, otherwise I wouldn’t read reviews. At the same time, not really. I just want to keep entering new creative territory without too many voices in my head.
Stella: Do you have a good writing place? Tell us.
Ellen: Just at home, rotating between the couch, the desk and the kitchen table.
Stella: Where would you live if you could live anywhere?
Ellen: Bundjalung country, coastal northern NSW.
Stella: Have you ever received a grant, residency or fellowship to write?
Ellen: Yes. I received a 2014 Queensland Writers Fellowship to write my next book this year. The project is called Days of Extinction, and it will be a look into the past, the megafauna of Australia, and also a look forward, to impending extinctions my generation will face.
Stella: What book would you take with you to a desert island?
Ellen: Staying Alive, a poetry anthology edited by Neil Astley. An infinite treat.
Stella: How do you know when a story is finished?
Ellen: When you have moved on. You are no longing feeling the emotion that compelled you to write it, propelled you forward. It’s over.