In May and June, non/fictionLab hosted two writers at McCraith House in Dromana – Sam Cooney and Briohny Doyle.
Sam Cooney is publisher and director at literary publishing organisation The Lifted Brow, and is a writer and editor. He teaches writing at various Melbourne universities, sits on several boards, recently undertook a residency with McSweeney’s Publishing in San Francisco, and helps kids make literary magazines at 100 Story Building. He has hosted events and chaired panels at the Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Brisbane, Ubud and Emerging writers’ festivals, and was a judge of the 2013 Victorian Premier’s Unpublished Manuscript Award, the 2015 Victorian Premier’s Non-Fiction Prize, and the 2015 Lord Mayor’s Narrative Non-Fiction Prize. He is excited about the very first novel The Lifted Brow will be publishing later this year: Briohny Doyle’s The Island Will Sink.
Sam says of his experience at McCraith: “If anyone had ever told me that I’d one day find artistic solace inside a giant architectural butterfly, I would’ve told them that taking drugs never really helps me be creative in any meaningful way. But indeed, my time at McCraith House allowed me to withdraw from all parts of the world not related to my practice, allowed me to embrace the tunnel vision that is required for sustained and productive work. Facing out over the sometimes sunny sometimes gloomy but always transitioning Dromana bay, listening to the river of traffic along the Peninsula Link freeway, waiting for the large flock of unidentified feathered objects to take flight around 4pm every day and murmurate wildly above the various roofs – who would’ve known that these are the ideal conditions for writing? But they are, and for it I am grateful. To totally fuck up the butterfly metaphor, McCraith House was not a butterfly at all but rather a lifestage earlier, a larval stage: it was a cocoon inside which I huddled, in which I gestated hard, and grew that important little bit as a writer.”
Briohny Doyle’s debut novel The Island Will Sink is the first to be published by the new book-publishing arm of literary journal The Lifted Brow. Doyle’s column on popular culture has been a regular feature of the Brow for many years and her fiction, criticism and nonfiction has been heard on Radio National, and at the Sydney Festival and appeared in Meanjin, Going Down Swinging and The Age. Her first nonfiction book considers adulthood as a cultural artefact and is forthcoming through Scribe Publications in 2017.
What did Briohny work on at McCraith House? Says Briohny: “I spent ten glorious days at The Butterfly House working on final edits for my novel The Island Will Sink, rewrites for my nonfiction manuscript Adult Fantasy and marking student short stories. I got a suntan from all that bright winter light through those giant windows and enjoyed watching the birds windsurf at 3pm everyday, just before the sky turned purple and the silhouette of Melbourne emerged across the bay. I enjoyed some drives around the peninsula, a sneaky long-lunch at a winery and even a freezing cold sunset dip.”