The Stella Interview: Joan London
The Stella Prize chats with Joan London, author of The Golden Age
Stella: Which writers have shaped your work?
Joan: Alice Munro. Penelope Fitzgerald. William Maxwell. Chekhov.
Stella: Have you had any significant professional or personal mentors in your writing career?
Joan: Wendy Jenkins and Ray Coffey, of the Fremantle Arts Centre Press, first opened my eyes to the saving grace of good editors. Drusilla Modjeska rescued my first novel from abandonment by insisting on reading it.
Stella: Why did you become a writer?
Joan: I made up stories – talking out loud and acting out roles in private – from earliest childhood.
Stella: Do you care what other people think?
Joan: Less than I once did.
Stella: Do you have a good writing place? Tell us.
Joan: I have a small writing room. I also have a big, long bench in an empty bedroom, looking at a blank wall; notes stuck up all over a pin board. I move between the two.
Stella: Where would you live if you could live anywhere?
Joan: I’m very happy living exactly where I’ve ended up.
Stella: Have you ever received a grant, residency or fellowship to write?
Joan: Yes, a Literature Board New Writers Fellowship in 1986. A WA Creative Development Grant in 1988. And a residency at Varuna in 1996.
Stella: Favourite heroine in literature?
Joan: Alice Munro’s heroines, in all her tales of the lives of girls and women, defiant, lustful, regretful, in their many incarnations, high school girls in country towns, seething young wives, struggling divorcees, and older women looking back on their lives.
Stella: How do you know when a story is finished?
Joan: When I can’t change the ending. When I can’t write any more.