17 August 2016

Meet the Scribe Nonfiction Prize Shortlist: Louise Jaques

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.


Louise Jaques – Go Gentle

Age: 25


How did you begin writing? I’ve always written and read stories. In Year 6, we told us there was no page limit for our creative writing project. Big mistake. I came back with a 15 page saga called “Year 6 Goes to Space,” (I pity the poor teacher that had to read it) whilst my classmates had prepared much more sensible 2-3 page affairs.

What’s your favourite work of nonfiction? Eats, Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss.

Why do you write nonfiction? To be honest, the piece I entered into the Scribe Nonfiction Prize is the first long form nonfiction piece I have written. I have written a few articles here and there, and always adored writing essays at uni, but this is my first foray into something more nebulous in the nonfiction sphere.

Tell us a bit about your submission to the Scribe Prize… ‘Go Gentle’ explores the attitudes towards death and grieving of Lebanese Maronite Catholics. I have drawn on my lived experiences with my family, as well as finding sociological and historical references to round out the vignettes. In writing it, I aimed to weave humour, anthropological observation, and narrative.

Why did you choose to write it? The subject material was begging to be developed somehow; to exist in a space beyond the four walls of my grandmother’s kitchen. I detected the behaviours around me as lending themselves to storytelling… the often repressive affection, the borderline maniacal faith, and the intensity of grief over the elderly and suffering. It would have been criminal to ignore such rich characters and oddities. In the words of my inner monologue while reading my first draft: “you can’t make this shit up.”

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received? And the worst? The best piece was from the Australian poet Kate Middleton. She told me to trust my instincts. Simple, but devastatingly effective. As for bad advice…I don’t think I’ve ever received any!

What piece of work, published or unpublished, are you most proud of? Certainly my first inclusion in a printed book – nothing can quite compare to that feeling. In 2014, my poem ‘synaesthesia’ was published in the UTS Writers’ Anthology Sight Lines. It was an extraordinarily proud moment to  perform the piece at the Sydney Writers’ Festival.


You can find out more about Louise and her work at  www.louisejaques.com.au or on Twitter at @Louise__Jaques