2020 Snapshot: Penni Russon

Penni Russon grew up in Tasmania and has lived most of her adult life in Melbourne where she writes novels and teaches creative writing. She is an award-winning, critically acclaimed author of several books for children and teenagers, including the Undine trilogy, Only Ever Always and The Endsister. She lives with her husband, three children, and various animal companions in a mudbrick house in Melbourne’s bushy outskirts.

1. Tell us about your recent publications/projects?

I’ve actually been working on a PhD titled. Seeing Feeling, Feeling Seen, which I submitted July 2020. It’s on using comics as therapy in youth mental health. The PhD is about the affordances of art and literature, and how these affordances can help comics convey not just therapeutic principles, but also the lived reality of mental illness and how it manifests in bodies, in social contexts and in the environments we live and work in. Comics show young people the world is rich in resources to offer a troubled self. I have a novel in the works, a sort of hyperreal crime novel that may be slipping over into magic realism.

2. What has been the best publishing experience of your career so far?

I just love living in a world of readers, where books are valued. There are lots of moments, receiving the first box of my very first book, first review, winning awards, meeting my writing heroes, any time I see a cover for the first time, but all of it is a constellation of stars, and hard to say which star burns brightest. What I really love more than anything is being alone with my writing, following the sentences

3. Which recent Australian/NZ work would you recommend to international fans interested in expanding their Antipodean spec fic knowledge?

I really loved Euphoria Kids by Alison Evans. They do more than write interesting non-binary and trans characters, they generate a world that is itself non-binary, fluid and multivalent, spilling over with possibilities. Alison goes beyond representing diverse bodies into representing a world that yields to diverse bodies, that accommodates and makes space for them, that nourishes them and is nourished by them in return.

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