2024 Stella Prize Longlist: Reflections
Melissa Lucashenko 2024 Stella Prize

Something unique or special you do when you are writing

Melissa Lucashenko, longlisted for the 2024 Stella Prize, for Edenglassie, talks about her writing and what she needs to be able to spend many hours sitting down working at the craft.

Unlike any other author I know, I write reclining in an armchair. There’s something in my contrarian sense of humour that enjoys working at the craft – and working pretty bloody hard, I might add – in the lap of luxury, in a chair which epitomises rest and relaxation. Kind of like the old Woody Guthrie thing – “Take it easy. But take it!”

It’s been an experiment to find the best solution for my bad back. Part of all my novels were written sitting on lounges. Killing Darcy I mostly wrote very fast at a desktop computer in Tonga, and also part of my third book, Hard Yards. But by the time Mullumbimby came along in 2011-2012 my crook back was refusing to sit in a conventional chair for more than about ten minutes or so. My sciatica would regularly cripple me if I tried.

I must have discovered the Lazy-Boy brand around that time – I certainly didn’t grow up around them. Now, a dozen years later I own two identical recliners. They’re pretty expensive but are essential for the hours of seated work it takes to compose a literary novel.

I work where I live, in a suburban house. I also often work deep in the rainforest country of the Border Ranges, in a remote unlined wood shack without electricity, internet or running water. It’s a place where I need to be sure to turn off the tap to the water tank, in case the koalas accidentally knock the lever open and waste all the drinking water, and where I don’t go more than fifty metres from the shack without a precautionary stick, in case the dingoes are close by.

Unlike any other author I know, I write reclining in an armchair. There’s something in my contrarian sense of humour that enjoys working at the craft – and working pretty bloody hard, I might add – in the lap of luxury, in a chair which epitomises rest and relaxation.

edenglassie melissa lucashenko

So if you happened to drive about two and a half hours south from Brisbane, winding along increasingly narrow, and heavily potholed roads, dodging loose cattle and the occasional echidna, and if you were to then head up into the wild, wild rain-forested hills where the bitumen ended long ago and the creeks all rise in summer to trap the locals at home; and if you knew just where to look and you weren’t overly-afraid of leeches or carpet snakes or getting bogged on a washed-out dirt track on the side of a mountain, you might happen upon me, cup of tea to hand, brow furrowed, sitting and typing as my laptop battery faded along with the daylight, hard at work in my maroon Lazy-Boy recliner.

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