On the Couch with Mary Anne Butler

Mary-Anne-Butler-AAR-On-the-CouchWho is Mary Anne Butler?
I’m a writer, who lives in Darwin.

What would you do differently from what you do now?
I’d still write. I love the process too much. I can’t imagine a life without it.

Who inspires you and why?
The plethora of incredible writers who have the courage to go deep; whose work grabs me around the heart and head, shakes me up, and challenges me to become a better person.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
Agitate politically to have empathy taught as a subject in schools. Alternatively, invent an empathy microchip to be implanted into everyone at birth.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Half my heart belongs to Ireland, so Ireland for sure. It’s incredibly rich; culturally, socially, politically. And those folk sure know how to turn darkness into humour, which I love. I also love heading out bush with mates to some of the beautiful Northern Territory waterholes, desert, wilderness. It reminds me that there’s a bigger picture than any of us.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
I live about 200 metres from the beach, and whenever friends come all they want to do is take scrumptious food and a drink of choice down to the edge of the ocean, have a laugh and a chinwag, and watch the sun set. There’s a real sense of community down there, and it’s a brilliant way to end any day.

What are you currently reading?
Charlotte Wood’s author interviews in The Writer’s Room, and Dart; a poetic novella by Alice Oswald. I’m studying for a PhD, so I’m also reading Anthropocene Fictions by Adam Trexler, and a host of articles – mostly related to climate change fiction.

What are you currently listening to?
Thelma Plum’s Better in Blak swings me sideways. Uplifting, heartbreaking, the personal rendered universal. Stunning writing. Podcast: A Mind of One’s Own, which is psychologist Alison Manning interviewing Charlotte Wood on her writing craft. It’s incredibly insightful. I have to keep pausing it to make notes.

Happiness is?
Appreciating what I’ve got, rather than craving for what I don’t have. Being around friends and community. When the writing is going well I’m ecstatic, and when it’s not I’m miserable – so happiness for me is also innately connected to the process of the work at hand.

What does the future hold for you?
I’m working on a novel and a new play concurrently – and while there’re a lot of hard yards ahead, there’re also mountains of joy and curiosity in the process. So more of both, I hope!

Mary Anne has been commissioned to create a new 10 minute story for Come to Where I Am – Australia, an exciting new writing and performance initiative from Paines Plough and Critical Stages Touring. For more information, visit: www.criticalstages.com.au for details.

Image: Mary Anne Butler (supplied)