23 June 2015

Spotlight On: Bri Lee

Bri Lee

How old are you?

What state or territory do you live in?

What kind of writing do you do?
Many different kinds. (Master of none.)

Most of my writing time is spent doing interviews and feature article-type content for Hot Chicks with Big Brains. Or quick blog posts in response to topical news bites or events I attended as a representative of it.

I did some non-fiction memoir work for the last Voiceworks issue and I enjoyed that so maybe I’ll do more. I’m also plugging along with a bigger fiction project that I’m too scared to call a “novel”.

What are you currently reading?
I am always reading Sofija Stefanovic. Hehe.

Also I’m going through everything Amy Tan ever wrote because the not-novel I’m working on is set in China and I lived there for a year so it’s simultaneous research and also me re-living my 2011 year.

Also I’m excited for the second issue of Accidental Discharge, and the new issues of Riposte and Womankind magazine, and honestly RUSHH is still so good. Every time.

How did you begin writing?
In secret. I churned through so many awful pseudonyms before I was comfortable stamping ‘Bri Lee’ on anything.

How do you remain motivated?
I just told you – the power of girl crush flows through my veins and makes me strong.

Where do you find inspiration for your work?
Women are so awesome – stop pigeonholing them. Let the girl crush flow through your veins and make you powerful. Approach and compliment big-brained hot chicks with reckless abandon and they will answer your questions. Then the words write themselves.  

Do you think where you live in Australia has influenced your writing?
Yes. In good and bad ways.

Growing up in Queensland (as distinct from somewhere like Sydney or Melbourne) made me think that any kind of creative pursuit, like writing, was to be undertaken on the side as a “hobby” in your “spare time”. When I talk to friends down south they seem to have an optimism about finding work as creatives that I don’t see a lot here.

On the flipside, the community here is smaller, and when I did get enough confidence to reach out and say: “Hey! This is something I want to do!” there were friendly faces and outstretched hands who I suppose had actually been there all along.

In particular, there’s a lot less competition for Hot Chicks with Big Brains (HCwBB) here in Queensland, compared to somewhere like Melbourne or Sydney. I go to events and talk to people about it and they love the idea and they think it’s “fresh”. We have Melbourne contributors and we’re reaching out, yes, but we’re also creating a little (online) community of Brisbane-based people as both readers and contributors. I didn’t really see it coming, but it’s growing organically and I couldn’t be more stoked.

What is the best and worst piece of advice you’ve been given as a writer?
Best: For the 100th Voiceworks issue I was allocated Van Badham as an editor and she turned my ugly, limping duckling of a draft into a gorgeous, colossal, kickass swan. Voiceworks is so committed to giving emerging writers a good editing experience, and by emphasising that to young people they are essentially telling them it’s a good thing. Which therefore counts as advice. It took a lot for me to swallow my pride and really be edited, and both my piece and I are so much better for it. Also, Van is amazing.

Worst: My mum was like: ‘Don’t write embarrassing things about the family.’ HA. Best material. Just disguise it as fiction. Nobody will know. (Yes, they will.) Tell your mum that nobody will know.

What piece of published writing are you most proud of? Why?
Interviewing Sofia Stefanovic in New York City for well over an hour, taking her portrait, and then putting together a piece for Hot Chicks with Big Brains that she was happy with… Wowee. She was so kind to me, and I had done my research properly so I had good questions, and she had amazing answers. I read everything she writes for The Lifted Brow and Dumbo Feather. I love Women of Letters and she hosts their NYC events. I am gushing. She is the best.

I used HCwBB as an excuse to get to talk to her and it worked.


What is your goal for National Young Writer’s Month?
Be a sponge.

Where can we find out more about you?
HCwBB Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hotchickswithbigbrains
HCwBB website: http://www.hotchickswithbigbrains.com
HCwBB Instagram: https://instagram.com/hotchickswithbigbrains/