with Amanda McLeod:
Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?
Amanda: I started writing when I was very young, and like so many of us pushed it aside to get a ‘proper job’. I didn’t come back to it until well into my thirties. As a young writer, I loved reading Bryce Courtenay, Judy Blume, and classics like Jane Austen.
Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?
Amanda: Today I read very diversely. Contemporaries whose work I admire include Melinda Smith, Sarah Wilson, Mark Tredinnick, Robert Macfarlane, Gaynor Jones, and Kathy Fish – and many, many more! I’m also dipping in and out of Wordsworth and Thoreau at the moment.
Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing? Have any travels away home influence your work?
I grew up in Central Queensland in Australia and to be honest, it didn’t have much of an influence beyond encouraging escapism when I was young! I did have two wonderful English teachers in high school who really encouraged my love of books and writing, and I think they had far more influence on me than the environment itself. I think it’s made less than a handful of appearances in my poetry in recent times, mostly as I’ve reflected on change.
Influenced by travels, absolutely yes. I’ve travelled overseas numerous times, but seem to go back to the same places over and over (I think I’ve been to New Zealand four or five times and it never ever gets old!). I’ve also lived in a lot of different places in Australia and those various environments tend to shape my work as I’m in them.
Q4: What do you consider the most meaningful work you’ve done creatively so far?
Amanda: That’s a tough one. I think whatever I’m working on at that point in time is the most meaningful thing. I think at this point my flash collection, Animal Behaviour, holds the title. It’s very dear to my heart, and was a labour of love that allowed be to really find my creative self and paved the way for me to develop more as a writer.
Q5: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?
Amanda: Less a pivotal moment than a slow dawn!
Q6: Favorite activities to relax?
Amanda: I am an avid hiker and love being outdoors as much as I can, whatever the weather. And of course I paint, and read.
Q7: Any recent or forthcoming projects that you’d like to promote?
My poetry chapbook, Heartbreak Autopsy, is coming out August 30th, 2021. It’s a collection of poems about all the ways relationships don’t work out that aren’t the sobbing-in-the-bathroom or explosion-of-hatred endings. Remember in the movie The Bodyguard, how at the end Kevin and Whitney loved each other but didn’t stay together? These are those kind of stories – the ones where two people part and there’s no big drama, just a kind of quiet grief or even sometimes a sense of relief. https://animalheartpress.net/heartbreak-autopsy/
Q8: What is a favorite line/stanza from a poem of yours or others? A favorite piece of art?
A favourite line from one of my poems:
The world is changing; loss is the only constant.
Favourite art piece? Van Gogh’s The Starry Night and Monet’s Bridge Over a Pond of Waterlilies.
Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?
Amanda: Kelly from Sick Lit Magazine gave me the self belief to really go for it. Eli and Beth from Animal Heart Press have both pushed me hard and made me a much stronger poet. I’m also a member of a fabulous writing group (hi, Canberra Writers!). They’ve definitely helped me strengthen my writing. We meet fortnightly and give each other feedback on our works.