Where Do You Get Your Inspiration From?

Where does inspiration come from? A selection of authors shortlisted in the 2015 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards share where they get their inspiration from.

Rebecca LimThe Astrologer’s Daughter (Text Publishing, shortlisted for the Young Adult Fiction prize):

Inspiration is everywhere. I’m a champion eavesdropper. I’m an inveterate newspaper skimmer and collector of weird stories and new words. Many of my novels are fictional responses to cold cases or terrible crimes. The things people do to each other in real life are staggering. You couldn’t begin to make some of it up.

Judith RossellWithering-by-Sea (ABC Books, shortlisted for the Children’s Fiction prize):

Ideas are everywhere. I think ideas and inspiration are easy. It’s the actual writing that’s difficult. You just need to pick something that you like, and make a start. I have to turn the internet off, it’s very, very distracting. I’m always watching videos of cats that adopt ducklings and such things.

Alan AtkinsonThe Europeans in Australia Volume Three (New South Books, shortlisted for the Australian History prize)

I have never found writing or finding inspiration a major challenge.  There have been periods which are more fertile and hurried than others, but in general I’ve always been able to get on with it.  I write down things as I think of them, and as long as they’re useful they come together in due course.  The word-processor helps, compared with the typewriter, because it is so easy to jot down and then rearrange things without re-writing.  If things are going a bit slowly it helps to read something pleasant, like a good novel, which even if the subject matter isn’t directly related can sometimes, by some magic process, act as a trigger in bringing ideas to the surface.

Michael WildingWild Bleak Bohemia (Australian Scholarly Publishing, shortlisted for the Non-Fiction prize):

Just be patient and it will come to you. No point in forcing it.

Judith BeveridgeDevadatta’s Poems (Giramondo Publishing, shortlisted for the Poetry prize)

I always find inspiration in reading my favourite poets.

Rohan WilsonTo Name Those Lost (Allen & Unwin, shortlisted for the Fiction prize):

There are only two topics worth writing about: life and death. If you find no inspiration talking about life and death, stay away from writing.


Winners of the 2015 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards are announced on Monday 14 December in Sydney. Full shortlists can be found here.


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