Mandy Sayer - Author Q & A

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5 minutes with Mandy Sayer

Mandy SayerMandy Sayer's non-fiction has attracted many honours, including the 2000 National Biography Award, the 1998 New England Booksellers Award in the US, the 2006 South Australian Premier's Award, and the 2006 Age Book of the Year. She has two degrees from Indiana University, and a PhD in Research and Writing from the University of Technology, Sydney, where she was the holder of the CAL Non-Fiction Writer-in-Residence in 2014.

What was the last good book you read?

The Town, by Shaun Prescott.

Do you have a favourite Library?

Yes, my local, Kings Cross Library. The staff were very helpful in helping me research Australian Gypsies: Their Secret History.

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

A reviewer once wrote that I deliberately omitted my mother's name from my childhood memoir, Velocity, to make a feminist point about the unknowability of the female experience. In fact, the reason she remained nameless was because my publisher was scared of being sued.

What’s the best piece of advice you have received?

Set up a regular writing schedule and don't deviate, no matter how little you write during your allotted times.

What inspired you to write your book?

Romani Gypsies have been living in Australia since the arrival of the First Fleet, yet they have been omitted from official histories of our country, and there has never been a book published in Australia that details their fascinating backgrounds and cultural practices.

Want to read more about Australian Gypsies: Their Secret History?

Since the arrival of the First Fleet there have been Gypsies in Australia, yet their experiences have never been included in any official histories. In Australian Gypsies, award-winning memoirist and novelist Mandy Sayer weaves together a vivid, wide-ranging history that begins with the roots of the Romani culture, tracing the first Gypsy people to arrive in Australia (including James Squire, the colony’s first brewer) through to Gypsy families today, who share the stories of their ancestors and their lives.

With her unconventional, nomadic early life, Mandy Sayer has a unique insight into the lives of the people she meets, and a strong sense of the importance of their history. Given their blessing to tell their stories, Sayer also demolishes some longstanding but baseless myths along the way.

Australian Gypsies: Their Secret History is available now from NewSouth Books