Book Week - Carly Findlay

For Book Week, we shine a spotlight on Victorian writers like Carly Findlay. Awarded an Order Of Australia Medal (OAM), her writing on representation and appearance activism has been ground breaking.

Book Week conversation series

For Book Week 2020, we put the spotlight on five Victorian writers, each with a unique voice and story to tell.

Was there a particular moment you recall when you fell in love with reading and/or books?

"I was a reader (and storyteller) from a very young age. My parents would read to me and make up stories (which I would also contribute to) while doing my daily baths and skincare sessions. I loved picture books like Spot, Meg And Mog and Noddy as a young child. When I graduated from preschool I was given Beatrix Potter and Grug books."

"As I got older, I adored chapter books by Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl, Paul Jennings, Margaret Mahy, Gretel Killeen and The Babysitters Club. Mum and Dad also encouraged me to read the classics like Pollyanna, The Railway Children, Little House On The Prarie and Anne Of Green Gables. I was a voracious reader, staying up late on a Friday night reading." 

Carly Findlay tweet about being painted for an Archibald Prize submission

What is the most rewarding aspect of being an author? 

"It’s pretty amazing to think that a piece of writing starts with a blank page, and happens through words being transferred from brain to fingertips onto the page." 

"I have written to find a sense of identity, and also a community - I have been lucky to find both. Because I write so much about living with ichthyosis, a rare, severe skin condition, I often hear from and meet others with ichthyosis. The best thing is them telling me they feel less alone or more confident since they read my work, and also knowing that I’ve empowered them to tell their story too - even if just telling it to themselves.  What a privilege."

What creative work of yours are you most proud of? 

"Apart from my books Say Hello and Growing Up Disabled In Australia (out in February 2021), I am really proud of my essay that was a finalist in The Horne Prize in 2019. It was part personal, part political commentary. I wrote on being a disabled baby born to migrant parents, and observed the Australian government's cruel stance on migration and disability. Why was I a lucky one, relying on the public hospital system when my parents were new migrants? And yet so many migrant disabled adults and children are deported due to being seen as a burden by the government. It hasn’t found a publication home yet!"

"I also really loved being able to write a piece on my Savage Garden fandom for the media last year. It’s no secret that I have been a music fangirl for almost my whole life - and I found Savage Garden when I was 14. I’ve loved them ever since. I wrote in the 20th anniversary of Affirmation. It was so nice to write on something I am passionate about that wasn’t disability or appearance diversity focused." 

How has the pandemic impacted your work as a creative? 

"My next book, Growing Up Disabled In Australia , has been postponed to February 2021. It was due out in June this year. This is a good decision as the contributors and intended audience are disabled, and at risk of Covid." 

"I have lost a heap of public speaking work, but I am picking it up again with various online projects. That’s been good. I am really busy. My part time job at Melbourne Fringe has continued, and I feel lucky to have regular paid work that I can do from home." 

"I have felt a bit demotivated in recent weeks, because lockdown feels so damn long!  I miss seeing people and I can’t seem to get my sleep patterns right. It’s been hard to separate working weeks and weekends - so I’ve made sure I am watching some good (and trashy) TV, cooked a lot, gone for daily walks, and also bought rollerskates !" 

Author Carly Findlay has bought rollerskates to keep sane in lockdown, here is an image of her trying them out

"I was also awarded an Order Of Australia Medal earlier this year. While I’m really proud of it, the medal presentation ceremony was cancelled due to Covid. It doesn’t feel real yet." 

What has been your favourite piece of writing in 2020? 

"I have read a lot of books this year - proudly over 60! A couple of amazing books have stood out: The Confessions of Frankie Langton by Sara Collins and also Nightingale Point by Luan Goldie. These are both books by British women of colour, and feature themes of social justice, race, disability and class. They have stuck with me for months. I spoke about them on Anonymous Was A Woman."

You can follow Carly Findlay on Twitter  or keep up to date with her latest work on her website .

Visit Carly Findlay's website

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