Q&A with Laura McPhee-Browne

LAURA MCPHEE-BROWNE is a writer and social worker from Melbourne, Australia. She is currently working on two things at once: a novel about two young women from Melbourne living in Toronto, and a collection of ‘homage’ or ‘echo’ stories inspired by the short fiction of her favourite female writers. You can find her at lauramcpheebrowne.com
 
Her short story ‘The Day I Sat with Janis in the Garden and She Gave Me Her White Fur Hat’ appears in The Suburban Review #8.
 
 
AP: You’re currently writing short fiction in response to women writers you admire. How do you inhabit their words, but also make them your own?
 
LM: The short stories I write in response to stories already written are attempts at homages, and thus hold some small element of the original story close (a tone, a theme, a message). I find that this process can lead to playful writing that comes up seemingly out of nowhere, but is of course coming from something that has already been. I’m not sure I am successful at inhabiting the words of these authors and making them my own, but I try! It’s a pretty experimental process most of the time, and seems to work best when it’s fun.
 
 
AP: Has editing fiction made you more conscious of your own practice?
 
LM: I’ve been volunteering as a fiction editor for Verity La over the past year or so, and have found that the responses I have when reading and editing the work of others are often responses that I trust more than those I might have about my own work. This has reminded me to try and step back as far as possible when reading and editing my own work—to forget about why I am writing something and to focus on the story that is forming.
 
AP: You’ve written about how your career in social work often motivates your writing, are you inspired by specific situations you’ve witnessed? Or is the link more subtle?
 
LM: I think when I first started writing stories I was heavily influenced by my work in homelessness and addiction and mental illness and the bravery and hope and pain I witnessed every day. I think I certainly was inspired by and tickled by so many of the people I came into contact with, and I tried to weave their wit and chaos into my stories.
 
These days it might be a bit more general: I’ve had countless connections with people who are struggling, and I’ve witnessed the human spirit sinking and rising and sinking and rising, and I try to write about that in a way that isn’t incredibly corny.
 

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About Anupama Pilbrow 3 Articles
ANUPAMA PILBROW studied mathematics at The University of Melbourne. In 2015, she received the Dinny O’Hearn Fellowship for her manuscript the ravage space. Her poems, reviews, and essays have been published in journals and anthologies including Cordite Poetry Review, Rabbit Poetry Journal, JEASA, Southerly and The Hunter Anthology of Contemporary Australian Feminist Poetry. Read her chapbook Body Poems, out with Vagabond Press 2018. Her work often deals with diaspora, dialogue, exchange, and gross stuff.