EWF At Home Residency Q&A: Beau Windon

In 2020, EWF is proud to present EWF At Home Residencies, a program that supports emerging writers by offering time and financial assistance to work on their craft.

Beau Windon is one of six writers selected for the At Home Residencies program undertaking a fortnight of creative work, supported by EWF, in November and December.

Congratulations on being a recipient of our EWF At Home Residency! Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Thank you! I’m beyond thrilled about this opportunity. A little bit about me, yes, my name is Beau and I’m an Indigenous autistic writer based in Naarm/Melbourne. I’ve lived with mental health issues since childhood and am passionate about raising awareness about the realities of living with mental illness. I got involved with theatre when I was young as a way to build confidence and to understand what it was like inside the heads of other people . . . and also because I thought it would help me become a professional wrestler which I was absolutely obsessed with as a kid with and am 100% clearly not cut out for (too small, too scared, too bothered by all the sweaty touching). In my late teens my fascination with theatre developed more into a love of storytelling, then my love of storytelling got jiggy with my love of reading and I fell into writing as a way to amuse myself. Years later, dozens of writing classes and craft books, and here I am . . . a fresh faced fiction fanatic that just wants to share stories with people . . . and maybe cats.

What project will you be working on during the Residency? 

I will be working on completing a redraft of my comedic YA fantasy novel, Wild Against The World. The novel revolves around Braith Wild; a broken kid from a broken family in a broken town. He struggles with his mental health and self-confidence, but luckily his love for a strange hobby known as EKCO gives him a dream to chase. EKCO is a magical mixture of creative arts and combat sports, and all he’s ever wanted is to grow up to do that professionally. He lucks his way into an elite institute where he has to combat an elitist bully, a string of disappearances, a talking blackhole that may or may not be his friend, and his own self-esteem issues. Plus, there’s Eve. Eve. She’s dreamy, and nice, and easy to talk to, and she’s just a friend, JUST A FRIEND! HE SWEARS!

This project allows me to mix my love of weird funny fantasy with normalising neurodiversity. There’s a lot of novels out there that explore mental illness and neurodiverse characters, but when I was young I always wished there were more stories that weren’t JUST about them finding themselves. I wanted to see characters that thought like me doing cool stuff and magic and fighting giant monsters. There’s not enough of that in the world, I want to help change that.

What do you love most about poetry and YA fiction?

I’ve loved YA fiction my whole life. I think it’s because the characters in YA are less sure of themselves, still trying to find their identity and come to terms with who they are and what they want. The whole coming into oneself fascinates me. Not having to worry about boring adult stuff like rent or taxes or rates (the rates are crazy rightnow amiright!?) or mortgaging your finances to impress an accountant. Plus the romantic arcs in YA feel more relatable to me, awkward and unsure and easier to digest and understand their feelings. The uncertainty that is so engrained in the core of the characters, something about that just grabs me. It’s fulfilling going on that journey and feeling the character grow into themselves.

I got into poetry hardcore when I first stumbled across Neil Hilborn’s poem OCD. I burst into tears when I first saw the video because it was the first time I’d ever heard a similar thought process to my own put into words in a non-preachy way. It was just so authentic and something I strive for with my own poetry. I don’t know if my poems reach that level of authenticity as I like to hide behind a lot of weird phrases that feel good coming off my tongue. I think that describes my two favourite things about poetry though; the authenticity and the feeling. I love reading a line and feeling it do the two step between my lips. I get caught on those lines, run them through my mind hundreds of times until I’ve sourced a handful of different meanings depending on the way it slides through me. Poetry is magic.

What themes come up most often in your writing?

Identity is a strong one. Coming to terms with oneself. I struggle big time with self-esteem problems so I like writing about that to explore different angles of finding peace with yourself. I love writing about underdogs and failure and overcoming failure and knocking failure on its ass and saying Hey failure, you can knock me down three dozen times but I will keep getting back up because that’s all I know how to do and when you get tired of it I’m going out for cheesecake and you ain’t invited. I also like writing immature jokes about butts and otters though . . . so I like to balance those more difficult themes with some sillyness.

What do you like to do outside of writing?

I’m obsessed with choc orange things, jaffas, whatever you like to call it. Not many people like it but it’s the best. I like eating that. I also like walking. I walk everywhere. It’s nice for thinking and singing songs in my head while pretending I’m in a quirky indie film. I’m a big time geek; so I spend a lot of time reading comics, fantasy, sci-fi, manga . . . watching anime or other animated things. Sometimes I like to sit in front of my washing machine and just watch it spin. I think I’m rather versatile with my “outside writing” interests.

Thanks Beau! We’re so delighted to be working with you.