Writer Of The Week: Liz Filleul

writer of the week

Our Writer Of The Week is Liz Filleul.

You can read her latest short story, “Being Neighbourly”, in our August 8 weekly issue.

Did your work as a journalist help you with your fiction writing?

Yes, in several ways.

It helped me write to length, because I had to produce so many words on a particular topic in a short space of time.

It gave me good research skills, and it taught me to be less possessive of my work because changes often needed to be made at layout for various reasons.

And it taught me to adapt my style and tone to that of the publication I was writing for.

All these things help enormously when writing short stories.

You’ve had several books published. What is your process when writing a novel? How is it different from your short story process?

To use a sporting analogy, short stories are sprints and novels are marathons.

I see myself as a natural sprinter, because I love writing short stories. I can go for a long walk and come back with the entire story in my head, which I can then spill onto the keyboard. All it needs then is some editing and polishing.

Novels are much more time-consuming, requiring months of work and a lot of commitment to something that may or may not work out.

Writing long crime reads for the Special lies somewhere between the two, and I particularly enjoy that challenge.

How much do you think migrating to Australia has influenced your writing?

A lot! It was difficult the first few years, because my writing and characters were very English, so not what Australian publications were looking for.

And the internet was in its infancy, necessitating postage costs if I wanted to submit to UK publications. So my writing lost ground a bit.

But as time went by, I gradually became more “Australianised”. I learned more and more about my adopted country, its diverse people, and its history.

Nowadays most of my stories are set in Australia or feature Australian characters.

We love your blog, where you explore quirky bookshops in search of vintage children’s books and crime fiction. Do you have a favourite bookshop to visit? What made you start the blog?

I started it because I thought it would be interesting, and hopefully helpful for other book collectors in and around Melbourne.

However, not long after I started it in 2010, life changes meant I could no longer spend so much time visiting bookshops, and I forgot about it.

Several years later I wondered whether a particular bookshop was still open, googled, and found my old blog. So I decided to start it up again.

I’m really looking forward to getting back to it post COVID-19.

I have several bookshops I’m fond of, but I have a particular affection for Kallista Books in Kallista and Yarra Cottage Books in Warrandyte.

Notebook and pencil, or laptop? Kitchen table, or study? Blank wall, or inspiring view?

In summer, I sit outside and write the first draft of my stories in a notebook. Then I use my desktop computer in my study for the editing/polishing process.

In winter, you’ll find me sitting in the kitchen next to the fire, with my laptop.

I need an inspiring view (or walk!) for nutting out story ideas, and a blank wall for the actual writing part.

And a P.S. — What’s your top tip for an aspiring Writer Of The Week?

If you want to write for “The People’s Friend”, read as many copies of the magazine as you can to get a really good feel for the type of stories they publish.

I also found the Fiction team’s blogs on the “Friend” website and the Womagwriter blog to be enormously helpful when I first started considering submitting stories.

For more from our Writer Of The Week series, click the tag below.

Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.