Jess Gately interviewed Susan Midalia about how to combine the elements of traditional romance with a strong political agenda. Jess is from Perth, and is a graduate of ECU, but she is currently studying a Master of Professional Writing and Publishing at Curtin University. She is also one of the founding editors of the zine Underground Writers. This is her first podcast with Fremantle Press.
Have you always been a writer?
Not professionally. My undergrad was in biology and geology with a minor in writing, which was kind of a weird mix. When I left uni, I worked in the environmental sector for a while, decided it wasn’t really for me, then ran away to the other side of the world and worked in hospitality. After travelling for a while, I decided it was time to come back and sort my career out and figure out what I wanted to do long-term. I’ve always loved writing, so I’ve recently started a Master of Professional Writing and Publishing at Curtin.
Tell us about Underground Writers.
Underground started as a zine that some friends and I started during my undergrad at ECU. It’s now a bigger operation that also focuses on helping emerging writers develop their skills, and arms them with the information they need to get published. It’s been going for almost 10 years, which is really exciting. We offer everything for free because we believe that everybody should be able to have access to the information they need to tell their story, regardless of their financial situation. The zine is also released as a free publication, because people of all means should be able to support emerging writers in some way.
Tell us about the new bookshop, Underground Books?
This August, Underground is launching its very own online bookshop, which will only sell debut Australian titles. It means people who are specifically looking for a new Australian author will be able to come to us and know that everything we stock is an Australian debut. All the profits from the store will go towards funding professional workshops and events for emerging writers. We’re very excited and we’ve had a really positive response since the announcement.
How did you come to be involved with the Fremantle Press podcast?
In early 2017 I ended up chatting to (Fremantle Press Publisher) Georgia Richter and asked if she’d be interviewed for Underground. She said yes and later put me in contact with Claire Miller so that we could do book reviews of Fremantle Press titles. After working with them for the last year, Claire approached me about this podcast and has since offered me the opportunity to work casually with the Press. I love every second of it!
What do you like to read?
I love fantasy and sci-fi. My reading goal last year was to read different genres and this year’s is to read different voices, so exploring those new options is really cool.
Do you write? What do you write?
I do write: mostly fantasy, though I haven’t actually finished a manuscript yet. I have written seven copies of the same story, but it’s still not done. Otherwise, I do a lot of writing for Underground. Writing blog posts is really enjoyable because I get feedback from people who really benefit from it.