Q&A with Alicia Gadd-Carolan

A photo of Alicia is superimposed on a white background. On the left is a strip of brown and orange rugged textures and a thumbnail of The Suburban Review #19 cover. The photo shows Alicia standing in front of a green bookshelf that is chockful of books. Alicia has vivid purple hair pulled back into a ponytail and a fringe. She is smiling warmly into the camera.

ALICIA GADD-CAROLAN is a writer from the western suburbs. She has recently graduated from the University of Melbourne with a Bachelor’s degree in English and Theatre Studies and has had works of creative non-fiction published in Farrago, Voiceworks, and Stereo Stories.

Our Associate Editor Panda Wong interviews Alicia Gadd-Carolan about her non-fiction piece ‘Blues’ for #19 ECHO.

‘Blues’ is permeated with grief, it really captures the way that grief sinks into your body and is felt, rather than articulated. It’s a moving and honest piece and resonated with extra force for me during this heavily grief-soaked time. Can you expand on your approach to this piece? What was the process like for you?

The way our minds organise memories and traumatic events is really interesting to me, and I suppose in this piece I wanted to emphasise how grief is something you carry with you, and how little it affects everything and everyone else. The death of someone close to you colours everything, and it changes your entire interior landscape, but essentially the world stays the same. It makes time funny too, warps it at different stages, and it feels very different depending on what you’re feeling. I found that sitting and observing people and my little world was a really good way to let my mind sort things out. Writing helped too!

The epigraph of ‘Blues’ is from The Pillow Book by Sei Shōnagon, a book of observations and musings during her time as a court lady in Heian Japan. ‘Blues’ draws parallels to this text with its observational, almost voyeuristic tone, but I would love to know more about how The Pillow Book influenced this piece of writing? Are there any other influences and inspirations that feed into this piece?

I love the tone of the Pillow Book, because it doesn’t really have an agenda or purpose, it’s simply beautiful in its quiet descriptions of life – which always manage to be poignant and moving in all sorts of ways. The descriptive passages have no apparent connection to each other and don’t necessary mean anything together, but are full of moments and thoughts that feel significant. I love to write description more than anything else, because I feel like I’m just looking at the world instead of experiencing it. Someone I’ve always loved for her descriptions is Zelda Fitzgerald (both in her stories and her letters), and I think you can see traces of her in my writing.

What are you working on at the moment—any projects on the horizon?

Nothing specific! The only thing I’m sure of is I want to write something happy.