We spoke to Westerly editor, novelist and short story writer extraoradinaire Dr Catherine Noske about the things the set her world alight. Not surprisingly, she was erudite, considered, and engaging…her story, ‘Brown Snake’, will be published in the upcoming Margaret River Press anthology, Shibboleth and other stories in August, 2016.
What are you reading?
I have just finished re-reading Patrick White’s Voss. It was listed as part of the Australian literature course I am involved in this semester at the University, and after the energy of the discussions which erupted in our tutorials, I couldn’t resist starting once more at the beginning. The book is so rich, so strange and beautiful that it really demands you come back again and again. And then there are these moments of sheer and visceral ugliness, disturbing the whole experience. That is what stays with me, the sensation of being undermined.
What are you watching?
The last thing I watched was Keira Knightly in the film remake of Pride and Prejudice, which I found an interesting mix of excellent detail and some horrid re-writing. I am also being taught, (slowly and gradually, a process of years), to watch AFL football. As much as it makes an interesting contrast with my normal choice in movies, there is something enthralling about watching the single-mindedness of individual players go head to head over the ball.
What are you listening to?
I’ve been listening to a bit of Tim and Neil Finn, simply because I love their lyric writing – and I heard a version of one of theirs live over the radio, which has got me caught on Crowded House. I’ve also got Mendelssohn stuck in my car’s CD player, so there’s been a bit of that…
What have you got a taste for?
Cheesecake has been following me around lately, in several guises. I ate a delicious coffee-flavoured one at a dinner party last weekend, and made a particularly strange lemon version myself the week before. Something went wrong with the texture of mine, it came out weirdly sticky. I was quite happy the second came along to redeem it.
What scents currently surround you?
My copy of Voss is an old edition, one which I found at a secondhand bookstore. So the scent which stands out right now is that beautiful yellow mustiness of old book. It appears to have travelled some miles, there is a page in the middle stained with red dirt, so the smell is cut with something sharper that normal. It seems appropriate given the story. The rain lately, too, has brought my little garden back to life, so maybe my sensitivity for the smell of dirt has been heightened in the timing. Regardless, it makes me wonder where the book has been before me.
Dr. Catherine Noske is currently serving as the editor of Westerly Magazine. She completed her PhD in creative writing at Monash University in 2013, with an interest specifically in the representation of landscape in Australian literature. She also produces scholarly essays and fictocriticism exploring ontological pluralisms in the French Vitalist tradition, looking at how philosophies of this kind might be applied creatively to challenge the ways in which we write place and space. In her time as editor with Westerly, she has applied her interest in creative writing to the publication of some wonderful work from across the nation, particularly focusing on ensuring that Western Australian voices are well represented and that new and original work is given space to flourish. Beyond the Magazine, she teaches in creative writing and literature at the University of Western Australia. She has in the past been a visiting research scholar at the University of Warwick (UK), and the postgraduate representative to the Association for the Study of Australian Literature. She has twice received the Elyne Mitchell Prize for Rural Women Writers. In 2014, she was awarded a Varuna fellowship for her manuscript ‘The Call of Salt’, which has since been shortlisted for the Dorothy Hewett Prize, and will hopefully come to publication in the near future.