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5 minutes with Vicki Hastrich

Vicki Hastrich

What was the last good book you read?

Believe it or not it was The Weekend by Charlotte Wood! I’ve just reread it – with enormous pleasure. It’s so masterfully put together, so well observed – and funny and sharp – that I’m predicting l won’t be the only one rereading it on a regular basis. Before The Weekend, the best book I’ve read in a while was The Summer Book by Tove Jansson. A friend brought it to my attention. It’s a Scandinavian modern classic, a novel, first published in 1974. It’s about the relationship between an elderly woman and her six-year-old granddaughter during a summer when both of them are grieving. It’s a beautiful lesson in economy, as stripped back as the windswept island it’s set on.

Do you have a favourite Library?

The State Library, hands down. It’s my favourite place in Sydney actually. A wash of calmness and spaciousness comes over me the minute I step in the door. There’s a feeling of lightness and potential; as a place it wants nothing from you, it only wants to give. The new exhibition areas are fantastic, but I love every part of the State Library, even the austere old locker-room in the Mitchel Wing. But I’m pretty fond of my local library too, the Stanton, in North Sydney. It’s always worth a first look, and I can walk there.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever read about yourself or your work?

When I first began writing, an established writer looked at some of my stuff and said, ‘You’re an artist.’ I was flabbergasted. It had to have been an overblown claim, based, as it was, on nothing much. But I decided that perhaps what the writer was really saying was, ‘You have the inclinations of an artist.’ And I found that a strange and wonderful thing to contemplate, and suddenly I knew I badly wanted it to be true.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Keep going.

What inspired you to write your book?

Place. The waterscape of the Brisbane Water near Woy Woy on the Central Coast is special for me, and the pages of Night Fishing are filled with it. I’ve holidayed there all my life and somehow I find my best self there, and my best writing.