Inez’s top tip for aspiring authors: Write however you want to write. Make your own rules, find your own voice.
Inez Baranay was born in Naples, Italy, grew up in Sydney, Australia. She has published 12 books of fiction and non-fiction, and has lived in and taught creative writing in countries including India, Indonesia and the United States. Most recently Inez taught at the university in Canakkale, Turkey, on the shore of the Dardanelles. She now lives in Sydney.
To find out more about Inez and her writing, visit www.inezbaranay.com
Why do you write? I couldn’t bear not to. I need those periods of immersion in imagination and language, to be making something, to be in that state of other-being. But why why why, it’s a mystery eventually; sometimes to need to write feels like a curse.
What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? I can’t realistically imagine not being a writer. I’d have to be someone very different. A gardener? A painter? An outrageously wealthy heiress?
What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? Waiting until the right publisher at the right moment turned up – it took a while.
How involved have you been in the development of your book? Did you have input into the cover? After the publisher (Transit Lounge) accepted the book they assigned an editor (Kate Goldsworthy) who was great for tidying up the manuscript and helping me solve remaining issues.
The publisher consulted me about the cover; several covers were suggested, then this one, and I immediately said Yes. The image gives me a good feeling.
What’s the best aspect of your writing life? Writing itself. The solitude, the complete freedom. You make your own rules, invent your own way of working.
—the worst? The realities of financial poverty, the times it’s going badly and my whole life seems based on stupid delusion.
What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? Learn a trade by which to earn a living. When I started out there was an expectation that earning a living was possible from literary, independent writing.
What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? Nothing anyone could have told me would have made any difference, I suspect.
What’s the best advice you were ever given? A strangely difficult question: good advice in general seems to confirm what you already feel is true, so the best advice came from myself, to trust the instinct. (No general advice suits all situations.)
How important is social media to you as an author? Not at all, except sometimes as a place to lurk and see what’s going on in the world and how people talk about it.
Do you experience ‘writer’s block’ and if so, how do you overcome it? I don’t like that expression. Every creative endeavour has different phases, you can’t expect it always to be like it is when it feels like it’s flowing. Sometimes the writing doesn’t go well. Almost to the point of despair sometimes. Just keep going, try a different way, go for a walk, have a nap if you need to.
How do you deal with rejection? Pick myself up, dust myself off. Persist. Maybe feel horrible for a while then make up any interpretation of the rejection that makes me keep going.
In three words, how would you describe your writing? Experimental. Imaginative. Precise.
If you had the chance to spend an hour with any writer of your choice, living or dead, who would it be and what would you most like them to tell you about living a writing life? Hm, that would have to be the subject of the biography I am currently writing, Sasha Soldatow, who died in 2006; he was my first editor, and wrote brilliantly, but not enough, who had talent to burn but, by all accounts, was destroyed by alcohol and pills, or by whatever made him turn to them rather than to writing.
They were two little girls on a very big boat.
In the 1930s, Ada and Leyla meet as children on a boat bringing migrants from Old Europe to the New World. They talk of seeing kangaroos yet end up living miles apart from each other in suburban Sydney. Their separations are often lengthy but their friendship endures across continents and
decades and is a thread in this haunting story of writing, relationships and ageing.
Ada (A.L. Ligeti) becomes an author, searching for a Utopian world, exploring aspects of patriarchy and gender in her groundbreaking feminist science fiction novel called Turn Left at Venus. That novel and its sequels are celebrated and much discussed by generations of fans. Memory and imagination fold seamlessly into one another as Ada keeps moving on,
from relationships and places, living in hotels and rental spaces
in Kings Cross, San Francisco, Ubud and elsewhere.
Baranay’s emotionally resonant portrait of the solitary and artistic
life, lived adventurously across space and time, triumphantly
celebrates the singularity of being, of age, of imagination, and
of the ‘getting ready’ for the ending that life demands.
The book is available from https://transitlounge.com.au/shop/tun-left-venus/