EWF At Home Residency Q&A: Mykaela Saunders

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.

Mykaela Saunders 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.

I belong to the Tweed Goori community, though my ancestors were Dharug, Lebanese, and Irish people. I’ve worked in Aboriginal education for 18 years and have been writing fiction and poetry almost for 4 years.

What project will you be working on during the Residency? 

My novel, Last Rites of Spring. This story has gone through countless iterations – beginning as memoir, then autofiction, and now fully-fledged no-doubts-about-it made-up fiction. I’m not very happy with it; I started writing this story when I was a terrible writer and it shows. The more time that goes by, the less happy I am with it – a very good sign I’m getting better at reading and writing. This year it was a finalist in the David Unaipon Award for an Emerging Aboriginal Writer which gave me a big boost of confidence, and determination to work on it until it matches the vision I have for it. I’m so grateful for this residency for giving me the time and space and energy and focus I’ve needed to pull it into line.

What do you love most about writing and creating?

I’m fascinated by the alchemy of transference and understanding. Whatever I do to myself, and whatever I experience during the process of writing something, I get to pass on to others when they read that particular work. Whether I’m entertaining or teaching or seducing or terrifying or captivating myself, or making myself sad or stoking myself into apoplexy, these states seem to get smuggled through the stories and into the reader somehow, and so an emotional state that began in my body is planted in the readers as if by magic.

What themes do you find come up most often in your writing?

Really relaxed themes like country, community and culture, the past and the future, trans-generational traumas and heartaches; trans-generational healing and strengths, Aboriginal sovereignty and survivance, ancestors and descendants, relationships, relatedness, relationality, poverty and hermetic solitude, heavy metal and the ocean, camping, surfing, swimming, fishing, bushwalking, psychedelics, stars, blood, fire, colonisation, apocalypse, climate change, ceremony, otherworldly journeys, language, world-views, family, dancing, small towns and big city living, belonging and wandering, and the long hangover of institutional interference.

Who is a person who has inspired your craft the most?

My older brother, who was a true Metal Lord and Ocean Lord, and the best storyteller I’ve ever known.

Thanks Mykaela! We’re beyond excited to be working with you.