Interview and feature image by Anna Day
Bachelor of Journalism and Professional Writing, Bachelor of Arts (Creative Writing and Literature)
When I was a kid, all my spare time was writing books. So, I was like ‘well, journalism seems like the only degree that I can get academically where I can get the creative side as well.’ I started off writing the normal, usual kids’ ones but then as Twilight and everything came out I used to write fantasy ones but yeah my dad always said I was like the next J.K. Rowling.
He was born in Scotland. He was 15 years older than my mum when they got married. When I was maybe seven, he started drinking a lot, and his dad was an alcoholic, and his brother was also an alcoholic, so it was just in the genes, unfortunately. I think it started when he lost a lot of jobs and turned to drinking and from there it just escalated from when I was about seven to when he passed away when I was 15. So, it was seven or eight years of just pure hell with him.
I think I was angry a lot. My whole life at the start, it was very much trying to be understanding—trying to understand alcoholism as a disease. I remember being 11 and sitting in an AA meeting with my mum because she would go to them to understand how to help him and then I would also go to try and support her. And I remember sitting in this room with all these recovered and current alcoholics, and I think they were distraught that someone so young was sitting in a room with them trying to understand such a complex disease. And that’s what we always said, ‘it’s a disease, alcoholism is a disease’, but when he went to rehab and then booked himself out that’s when it felt like that is not a fucking disease, that’s a choice. I think angsty little Anastasia was very angry about that, all the time.
And then, of course, we didn’t have my dad anymore, like, it wasn’t him. And everyone was always like ‘your dad was so great, your dad is amazing’, and I was like ‘I don’t really remember him.’ I only know seven years of my life with him, and I don’t really know what he was like without the alcohol because him drunk was the only person I knew, and I didn’t like him.
I can only imagine, now that I’m older, how he felt not being able to be who he wanted to be and having that addiction just pulling him under. He couldn’t get out of it, and there was no getting out of it. When he passed away, it was almost like, not a sigh of relief, but we didn’t have to think about if he was alright anymore because he was just gone.
We moved out a couple of years before he passed away and I was working at Kmart. And I remember my mum had Aunty Lucy in the car and I was like ‘oh! Aunty Lucy what is up?’ and I got in the car in the undercover carpark at Tea Tree Plaza. We drove to get out then Aunty Lucy just pulled over and they both looked at me. Mum got out of the car and then she put her hands on my shoulders and I just knew immediately.
My mum, yeah. We don’t always get along but she is my role model. If she was stressed about money or if she was stressed about my dad she did not let us see that. I commend her for that because I think if she added that onto my shoulders, I wouldn’t have been able to handle it. I think she did amazing and still to this day if she’s struggling with anything you can see it but she won’t lay it on me. You know, I lost my dad and my brother lost his dad but she also lost a husband who she thought she was going to spend the rest of her life with. I don’t know who it is harder on.
Oh god, oh, there was this one that I wrote I think her name was Ava and she went away to her auntie’s house and her aunty turned out to be angel. Because I was obsessed with the Fallen books, so, prime Twilight time. And you know the book Hush, Hush? I loved that book. Oh my god. I don’t know how her aunty was an angel—fuck you. Ask eleven-year-old me, I don’t know. I wrote 250 pages of this book and it’s just sitting on my hard drive and that is about as extensive as it got.
I don’t think I have the creativity anymore. Yeah. I don’t think so. I’m reading again. I just bought a Kindle because I haven’t read a serious book since high school. Yeah. I used to go through two books a week. Nose in my book all the time. I wanted to be reading and I wanted to be writing but I wasn’t. But I’m reading Eleanor Olliphant is Completely Fine. Did you like it? I’m halfway through. Yeah, I’m getting that vibe. She seems like she’s fucked up. And when she asks for Mrs Brown because she’s at Bobby Brown. She’s so socially awkward—I love it. And when I’m reading it, I’m like ‘I wouldn’t be able to write like this’ and I think that’s what puts me off now. Maybe one day I’ll write a book. I’ll put you in my acknowledgements.
And I think the other thing is with my dad because he thought I was the next JK Rowling—yes, so bad. It breaks my heart because I loved her but she’s sucky. The fact that she felt the need to be vocal about being transphobic and now she’s ruined her entire fan base. I read this article on Buzzfeed about trans people who have Harry Potter tattoos and now they’re completely detached from it because they said ‘Harry Potter was my life growing and made me feel like I belong somewhere and now the person who wrote it is transphobic.’ I can’t even imagine what that would be like. Hectic. Anyway, don’t want to be the next JK Rowling because she’s transphobic.
But my dad was a writer. He used to write poems for my mum and they were amazing. Seriously amazing. That’s where I get all my creativity from. He used to read books after books. You should see my front room, it’s covered in three massive bookcases. That is all he did is read books. I reckon until the day he died, which I obviously didn’t see him a lot, but I reckon he would’ve been reading.
This piece was originally published in Edition 35 of Verse. View it in its original PDF form via ISSUU.