8 August 2016
Meet the Scribe Nonfiction Prize Shortlist: Katerina Bryant
In the lead up to announcing the winner of The 2016 Scribe Nonfiction Prize for Young Writers, we’re introducing you to every talented young writer on our shortlist. Read on for more information on their work, writing journeys, and all their tips, tricks and advice for budding young non-fic creators.
Katerina Bryant – A Pig In Mud
How did you begin writing? With trepidation at the age of 17. It was terrible crime fiction. I began with nonfiction at University and wrote for Adelaide magazines. Nowadays, I’m a long way away from crime fiction. I write memoir mostly, with a touch of fiction on the side.
What’s your favourite work of nonfiction? Australia has some wonderful nonfiction writers: I love Benjamin Law’s Gaysia, Marieke Hardy’s You’ll Be Sorry When I’m Dead and Chloe Hooper’s The Tall Man. Anything by David Sedaris is so thoughtful and belly-laugh inducing. But, I would have to say my favourite nonfiction book (at least, at the moment) is Sy Montgomery’s The Soul of an Octopus. She writes about animals in a way that defies all the tropes and she represents herself on the page so well.
Why do you write nonfiction? The impact of nonfiction is incredible. Knowing you’re reading something that attempts to touch the truth is thrilling to me.
Tell us a bit about your submission to the Scribe Prize: ‘A Pig in Mud’ explores the many ways we use and experience pigs as a society. It covers a lot: pigs in nursery rhymes, animal intelligence, pig dogging, pig populations in Australia, xenotransplantation, pigs in the horror genre (including pigs who eat people in real life), and of course, consuming pig. The essay is tied together through the narrative thread of me meeting my partner’s family’s pig, the wonderful and effervescent Walter.
Why did you choose to write it? When I was studying in the US, my professor placed images in front of us to choose as a writing prompt. I chose one of a boar and through this small act, I realised I’ve been connected to pigs my entire life. My great grandmother loved pigs as much as I do, and I thought this was worth exploring. As I kept writing and learning about pigs, I realised I wanted to share this knowledge. Did you know in studies pigs have shown they can play video games? Or that there are as many wild pigs as people in Australia? That there have been cases where pigs coordinate to gore their farmers?
What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received? And the worst? Both the best and worse is wrapped in one little adage: ‘write everyday’. I’m so conflicted by this. It is a wonderful idea and as someone who writes small amounts frequently, it works. But at the same time, having an anxiety about fulfilling an arbitrary quota is not conducive to thoughtful and reflective writing. I’ve also been told to ‘get a real career’ but where’s the fun in that?
What piece of work, published or unpublished, are you most proud of? (f the work is published, please include a link of where we might be able to read it) I like this essay I wrote for Scum on being a memoir writer with an ailing memory.