On the Couch with David Carlin

David Carlin - photo by Esther CarlinWho is David Carlin?
David is a writer, teacher and researcher who lives in Melbourne with his wife, Linda Mickleborough. His latest book is The After-Normal: Brief, Alphabetical Essays on a Changing Planet (2019), co-written with Nicole Walker. Previous books include Our Father Who Wasn’t There (2010) and The Abyssinian Contortionist (2015), and two anthologies of new Asian and Australian writing co-edited with Francesca Rendle-Short, The Near and the Far (2016) and The Near and the Far, Vol 2 (2019)David is a professor of creative writing at RMIT University where he co-directs the non/fictionLab.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
I would read more books (all the way to the end), or train myself to read books more quickly. I would reply to email letters from friends sooner! I would spend less time worrying and more time helping others and being grateful.

Who inspires you and why?
People who are courageous and compassionate inspire me. Greta Thunberg and the other young leaders all over the world campaigning for climate justice. Indigenous elders and youth in Australia and other countries – the Amazon, the US, the Pacific Islands, Indonesia, just to name a few I know a little about – who have been for many years and still remain powerful exemplars of creative resistance to oppression.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
Through making creative projects with a range of different people from different cultures and backgrounds, I’d like to help build connections of love, friendship and strength in the face of greed and cruelty.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Right now, my favourite holiday destination is anywhere in Australia I can go camping and/or hiking. I’ve been lucky enough to have been able to travel a lot but now, realising that air travel in particular comes at a high cost to the planet, I’m aiming to discover the wonders closer to home (of which there are plenty!).

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
I would take them walking in the local streets of inner-city Melbourne, to get a feel for the texture of the city, and then I would take them down to the Otways to experience the beauty of the wild ocean and the forests there.

What are you currently reading?
About twenty books at once! This is an increasingly bad habit. They include Tony Birch’s new book The White Girl, Catherine McKinnon’s Storyland, Kayang and Me by Kim Scott and Hazel Brown, and Radical Happiness by Lynne Segal.

What are you currently listening to?
I’ve recently got into audiobooks. When I have a longer space of time, I will listen to one of those (currently, Richard Powell’s The Overstory and Michelle Obama’s Becoming). If time is shorter I listen to podcasts – I like The Daily and podcasts about books and writing, like The Garret and Longform.

Happiness is?
Friends and family. Sharing meals and stories. Walking, swimming, laughing, pausing to breathe. Being joyful and feeling like you are contributing to the wellbeing of others.

What does the future hold for you?
Who knows! Wouldn’t it be boring if we knew what the future held for us? But I hope to have the chance to write some more books, to keep working with wonderful colleagues on interesting and worthwhile projects together, and to do more of those happy things above with people I love. And to learn many new things!

David is the co-author (with Nicole Walker) of The After-Normal: Brief, Alphabetical Essays on a Changing Planet – published by Rose Metal Press and available from all leading book retailers including Booktopia.

Image: David Carlin – photo by Esther Carlin