Rachel’s top tip for aspiring authors: Join a writing program or any environment where you can give and receive feedback. Write about what matters to you, that will resonate to the reader. Forget trends, they come and go. Don’t edit your first draft of anything, just write. Be vulnerable and mindful of your own judgements.
Dr Rachel Matthews is a Melbourne author, lecturer and VCE English teacher. Recently, she completed a PhD in creative writing (a novel and exegesis). Her critically acclaimed debut novel Vinyl Inside received strong press reviews and was highly commended by the Australian Vogel Award judges. Her short fiction has been published in EQ magazine, educational and writing journals. She has more than 15 years’ experience as an educator within a diverse range of learning environments, including lecturing in RMIT’s Associate Degree in Professional Writing and Editing, teaching within international settings and the RVIB. Rachel is also an experienced presenter with the Melbourne Writer’s Festival, the Vic Association for Teachers of English State Conference and National Young Writer’s Festival.
Visit https://www.rachelmatthewswriter.com/ to find out more about Rachel and her books.
Why do you write? I love the power and release of storytelling. The aim is to try to be honest and vulnerable. But that is also the hardest part.
What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? Anything with a creative bent.
What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? Finding a fit for my first novel ‘Vinyl Inside’ when approaching publishers. Many of them found the genre and style didn’t have a specific fit but they liked the writing. Also, it is an incredible lesson in patience and persistence.
What’s the best aspect of your writing life? Giving marginalised characters a voice, listening to my students share their stories and working toward understanding the bigger questions.
—the worst? The need for solitude. This is sometimes not easy for others to understand.
What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? I’d work hard to develop a broad profile and develop a range of skills, such as articles, short stories, poetry, etc. I’d be more patient when approaching publishers and enter more competitions, keep connected to the writing community.
What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? That persistence will become more paramount than skills.
What’s the best advice you were ever given? Write the first draft of a novel without editing or worrying about the direction and final details. Just get the initial concept down without any rules so that you have text to shape and play with.
A brave new novel that sensitively explores one woman’s experience of sexual violence and the silencing of those who feel compelled to speak out.
What happens when a young woman enters a city apartment early morning, with two footballers? Jordi Spence is sixteen years old and lives in outer Melbourne. By daybreak, her world has shifted. Max Carlisle, a troubled AFL star, can’t stop what comes next. And Ruby, a single woman from the apartment block, is left with questions when she sees Jordi leave.
In this remarkable novel, Rachel Matthews captures the characters of Jordi and her family, the players, and the often loveable inhabitants of a big city with a deceptive lightness of touch that seduces the reader. Siren reveals the often unnoticed life of a city while simultaneously drawing us deep into a dark and troubling world. What happens has an unexpected effect on all those who are both directly and indirectly involved.
The result is a powerful and haunting novel about cultural stereotypes and expectations, love, loneliness, family and our struggle to connect. In so many ways, Matthews subtly sounds the siren on sexual violence and its prevalence in our culture.
The book is available here.