Interview by Tsana Dolichva.
Allyse Near’s debut novel, Fairytales for Wilde Girls, won Best Horror and Best Young Adult Novel at the Aurealis Awards, Honour Book of the Year at the CBCA Awards, and was shortlisted for the Norma K Hemming and Inky Awards. Near won Deakin University’s inaugural Judith Rodriguez Prize for Fiction in her second year of study, and was one of the Melbourne Writer’s Festival’s 30 Under 30 in 2015. She will be hosting a workshop based around crafting fairytales for the MWF this year. Fairytales for Wilde Girls was recently released in Russian.
You recently spent some time in Japan teaching English. How has this experience fed back into your writing?
I lived in Nakano-Sakaue, right on the edge of Shinjuku. I had visited Japan the year before and found it to be a really inspiring and beautiful place. I loved the strong sense of national identity and the clashing culture – the tremendously modern and the revered past. While there, I came up an idea for a novel that I’m hoping to expand into my first series. It’s inspired by the neon-soaked atmosphere and the ‘Mahou Shoujo/Magical Girl’ genre.
What’s your favourite place to write?
It’s probably terrible for my posture, but I love to write in bed, balancing my laptop on my knee, with a big mug of green tea and some music playing. I also get my best work done fairly late at night. I also like to write at the local library during the summer.
What are you working on now? Can you tell us a bit about what readers can expect to see from you next?
I always have a couple of projects on the go. Currently I’m putting together a workshop for the Melbourne Writer’s Festival’s schools program. It’s about fairytales and how they can be twisted and made contemporary. I’m also working on my first screenplay, and two different novels – one the aforementioned Tokyo-set series, and the other a stand-alone YA. My agent has been very patient with me!
I just powered through Fleur Ferris’ ‘Black’ in a day, which is a big deal for me, as my reading speed could be described as ‘plodding’. It was quite thrilling and I’m looking forward to her book. For the most part, I get my recommendations from the @LoveOzYA twitter account and corresponding hashtag. There’s so many gems out there in Australian YA, it’s great to see these books and authors get all the love and support they deserve.
Which author (living or dead) would you most like to sit next to on a long plane trip and why?
This is a difficult question! I think I’d like to sit beside Tolkien. I could order him a drink and get him to tell me a really long, winding story to pass the time. If I could have the middle seat, I’d like to have JK Rowling on my other side. I’d love to talk to her about ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ – I have a lot of questions!