QWS Podcast S1E8 – Kate Hall / Q-Lit
In this episode Rob interviews In this episode Rob talks to Kate Hall, award-winning author of From Darkness, and the Creative Director of Q-Lit: a new queer writing festival touring regional Victoria early in 2023. Kate talks about the festival and how listeners can be involved.
Kate Hall’s Instagram @kate_hazel_hall_author
Kate Hall’s website Home (katehazelhall.com)
Q-Lit Instagram @q.lit.victoria
Q-Lit Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Q.Lit.Victoria
Q-Lit website https://www.q-lit.com.au/
Kate Hall’s Shout Outs
Please note: this interview transcript has been modified slightly for ease of reading.
Rob: Welcome to a special summer edition of QWS Podcast. Today we have Kate Hall. Kate lives, surfs, and writes on Wadawurrung country. She is the award-winning author of From Darkness, a romance set in the Otways and the Classical Underworld. Kate is also the Creative Director of Q-Lit, a new queer writing festival, touring regional Victoria early in 2023. Welcome, Kate.
Kate: Hi, Rob. Thanks for having me.
Rob: Absolute pleasure. Now we’ll dive into Q-Lit very soon. Certainly, I and our listeners want to know more about this new queer writing festival. But first we have a question we ask all our guests, which is, how has your work influenced your identity?
Kate: That’s a good question. So, From Darkness started out as a straight young adult romance. A long time ago I was teaching at a high school. I was partnered with a man. I was living a completely different life. I wasn’t happy, and I wrote From Darkness as a kind of escape pod from that life, basically. And it nearly got picked up by a couple of major publishers. So I mean, it, it went to the big meetings and, but it did just didn’t quite make it through. So I put the manuscript in a drawer and it stayed there. While I escaped the relationship, came to realize that I was, in fact a lesbian, rebuilt my career and everything else from scratch and kind of started my life over. And then one day it might have been in the shower, I think, or the ocean.
I think water is a fabulous conduit for these kinds of epiphanies. I just sort of realized why the novel wasn’t working. It was a love story about a girl and a boy, and it should have been a love story about two girls. Something that I was really invested in. So I rewrote it and sent it out to a handful of publishers here in Australia, but didn’t have any luck. So I sent it to Interlude Press in New York, and they published it in November 2020.
Kate: And it felt like my identity as a later in life lesbian and as a writer got really entangled with the process of rewriting and then publishing that debut novel in ways that I think I’m still learning to understand.
Rob: That’s, wow, that’s an excellent answer. And what an incredible validation of your truth through that process.
Kate: It did, it felt like a gift. It felt like I was being rewarded for living authentically <laugh>. But also it taught me something as a writer, which is that editors generally respond to writing that rings true because it comes from that place of authenticity.
Rob: Absolutely. Absolutely. And for our listeners, Grace, who is our Blaney Books and Art in Port Fairy, our book reviewer has reviewed From Darkness, and it is on, it should be on our Instagram ( @queerwritessessions ), the review, and also on Grace’s @koalateareads
Kate: Hi, Grace <laugh>.
Rob: Now I wanted to ask about Q-Lit and for our listeners. I’ve got a description here, so I might read that first, Kate, and then we’ll get into it.
So, Q-Lit aims to connect readers, writers and storytellers across Victoria. The project is a collaboration between Timothy Ryan (they/he), CEO of Scratch Arts, and Kate Hall (she/her), young adult novelist and academic. We celebrate the work of all LGBTQIA+ storytellers: writers of fiction and non-fiction, graphic novelists, singer-songwriters, playwrights/screenwriters, mixed media creatives, children’s authors, academics and poets.
Q-Lit aims to build community, develop inclusion and provide opportunities for storytelling creatives too often marginalised in mainstream arts and literary circles. Q-Lit is proudly funded by Victoria’s Pride/Midsumma and the Victorian Government’s Department of Families, Fairness and Housing.
Firstly, congratulations to you and Timothy for Q-Lit. How did, how did this all come about, Kate?
Kate: Thank you, Rob. I should also mention that we have lots and lots of support from the five regional libraries where our events will be held. So I wanted to make sure that I give a shout out to, you know, the Ballarat Library and the libraries in Shepparton and Traralgon, Geelong and Warrnambool who have been really generous in offering us space and in some instances catering and promotions and a whole range of other supports. So thank you to the libraries.
The festival was born from a, a realisation that sometimes it’s very difficult as a queer writer to find a place in existing literary festivals unless you happen to be quite famous. And I had a, a discussion with another queer writer following this realization, and I think I remember saying to them, well, let’s just create our own festival, <laugh>. And I reached out to Timothy who, you know, is amazing and knows how to get these things done, and it all kinda built from there.
So we started applying for funding and we had some community consultation, as you know, because you were part of some of those early discussions. Thank you very much. And we were really fortunate to, to grab the couple of grants that we did and that has allowed us to be able to deliver our regional events plus our day at Victoria’s Pride in Collingwood, Fitzroy on the 12th of February.
Rob: Oh, brilliant. So just on those events and, and dates, are you able to tell us which ones you’ve got locked in? And no shameless self-promotion here, <laugh>, although the last episode Grace reviewed my book, so I’m not sure what listeners are thinking this podcast is about, but I will be at one of the events. I’m very excited about the Ballarat event. Kate, if you can let us know the dates?
Kate: Yeah, thank you. So you are absolutely one of our superstars at our inaugural event in Ballarat on the 15th of January. So the lineup looks roughly the same at each of our regional locations. We will have a children’s and families event in the morning and all the daytime events take place at the libraries, and then we’ll have something for middle grade to young adults, and then we have three masterclass slash workshops in the afternoon for, you know, upper secondary VCE adult audiences. Then we follow with an evening showcase session at a local venue.
So in Ballarat, we’re doing that at Piano Bar and I’ve got a few people booked in already, which is fantastic. So as well as yourself, you know, there are a few people who have put their hands up. I can’t say anything really concrete yet, but I can say that if people would like to go to our website, which is https://www.q-lit.com.au/ and that’s got links to our Instagram and Facebook pages as well.
Hopefully over the next few days to a week we’ll be able to release the full confirmed line-up for Ballarat. But I will say that as well as your good self running a masterclass during the day, I have someone delivering a session called Writing from the Body, which should be really interesting, and possibly slightly erotic. We have a session on writing as activism slash protest, which will be fantastic. And we do have a really exciting session in the morning for young adult readers and writers.
So it’s big, it’s exciting. I know that there have been many, many queer literary festivals in Victoria before and we’re proud to be contributing to that tradition and hopefully offering something new as well because we’re starting regional and then we’re building towards something a little bigger in at the end of next year if we can get more funding.
Rob: Oh, wow. That’s very exciting. So yeah, as I mentioned listeners, we’ll have the details for q it in our show notes and on our Instagram as well. So please keep an eye on that. It’s summer Q-LiT Festival in Victoria, so Ballarat, Shepparton
Kate: Traralgon. Yep. And then we have a little bit of a break so that we don’t overlap too much with Midsumma. And then in April we will have two further regional events in Geelong and Warrnambool.
Rob: Oh, fantastic. And you mentioned, so you are gonna be doing something in Collingwood, part of Midsumma as well?
Kate: Yeah, so for Vic Pride on the 12th of Feb we will have a showcase, hopefully a full day or close to, and again, details to be confirmed, but I know that, that Timothy has in mind some kind of performance space where people can get up and do whatever they like — recite a poem, perform a song that people, that you’ve written, you know — read an excerpt of whatever prose you want to read, make a speech, do some standup comedy, whatever that looks like. And, and we really want to include aspiring and emerging writers and established writers and get everybody who works with words, however you identify, wherever you come from, to be able to come together and, and share words and to share queer words in particular. That’s what this is all about.
Rob: How can people get involved? So if they just keep an eye on your website or…?
Kate: The best way to get involved is to fill out the expression of interest form, which is on the website. We have a spreadsheet. And that means that we can gauge what your level of involvement might look like. You know, are you into just being kept in the loop about what we’re doing, or would you like to contribute in some way?
There’s a range of options that are captured in that form. And if we haven’t answered your question in that form, you can email us, you know, we’re pretty responsive and we’ll start to build a community that way of writers, readers and storytellers and figure out where everybody might like to contribute and where we can put people.
Rob: Oh, it sounds fantastic. I’m really excited to see it, to be part of it, and then yeah, just to watch it develop and grow. Yeah, the fact that you’re going out to the regional areas is brilliant. And then obviously for those who are living in Melbourne who can’t get out for whatever reason hopefully they can catch you in Collinwood. And having that safe space for people to share their work, I think is fantastic. So well done to you and Timothy.
Kate: Thank you, Rob. Thanks for being part of it.
Rob: Oh, excellent. Pleasure, <laugh>. It’s exciting. No, it’s, it’s great. So we have a writing question that we ask all of our guests, which is any advice or top tips for, for writers and they could be emerging writers or beginners or published?
Kate: Yeah, well, as an emerging writer, I can speak to what works for me and I think the old advice about getting up early is key to getting anything done. I’m a single parent, so that hour between 6:00 AM and 7:00 AM is absolutely crucial for me. And I’ve also learned that you can’t get up early and stare at social media for half an hour while coffee and then write.
Rob: Yeah, right.
Kate: I mean, maybe some people can, but I think that if I do that it clutters up the brain too much, you know, it’s either get up and get into it or have a break. And also, I do have writing epiphanies in the shower. I don’t know why it just happens. Yeah. Soak oneself in water I think it is.
Rob: Oh, I think yeah, absolutely. And I also wonder if it’s part of your subconscious kind of pulling a trick because you’re in the shower and you need to like take the (idea), take it down, right? But you’ve obviously got no access to pen and paper in the shower <laugh> anyway, but it does happen a lot. It does. And it’s, yeah, great, yeah, it’s amazing.
Kate: And then you’re sort of jumping out and drying off really quickly going, I’ve gotta go and write that down.
Rob: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Repeat it in your head so you don’t forget it. Yeah, <laugh>. Exactly.
Another part of QWS Podcast is the shoutout question. So you’ve mentioned how listeners can connect to Q-Lit, but how can listeners connect with you on socials? And also any shoutouts for LGBTIQA plus artists, books, art shows, organizations, social media? Yes, the choices, Kate!
Kate: This is my favorite question. Alright, so just quickly, I am on Insta as Kate_Hazel_Hall_author, and I’ll be posting lots of Q-Lit content on there, over the coming months. Yep. I’m Facebook as well as both Kate Hall and Kate Hazel Hall, but I’m not very good at Facebook. Q-Lit has an Instagram and Facebook presence, which is in its infancy at the moment, but that will grow as we grow.
Yeah. so shouts, so I’m reading Nothing to Hide: Voices of Trans and Gender Diverse Australia at the moment, edited by Sam Elkin, Alex Gallagher, Yves Rees, and Bobuq Sayed, published by Allen and Unwin. It’s just, there’s so much richness in the collection and I keep picking it up and losing myself in it. So I feel like I need to, my reading which I’m terrible at, but I’m really enjoying that and fantastic.
In terms of things that are upcoming, I’d really like to send a huge shout out to three lovely authors who have books coming out early in 2023, Ariel Katia has a memoir called The Swift Dark Tide, forthcoming from Gazebo books, Hailey Singer, a book of essays called Abandon Every Hope: Essays for the Dead from Black Inc, and Autumn Royal has a poetry collection, The Drama Student is forthcoming from Giramondo, and I’m going to find hard to rationalize a to all of those <laugh>, but we’re looking forward to all of them.
Rob: And again, we’ll put all those in our show notes as well. So for our listeners, you can check those books out and pre-order them – which is always a good thing to do.
Our final question, Kate, which is, what is your hope for the LGBTIQA plus communities?
Kate: I hope that all LGBTIQA plus people who live in regional and rural areas as I do, can find ways to connect and belong to communities. It’s not easy sometimes being queer and living some distance away from large cities. And I think that that’s true the further away you are from a metro center. So my hope for existing communities in those regional and rural areas is that their tendrils will be long enough. You know, that they can gently enclose anybody who feels lost and needs a community and needs to belong. And I hope that those people who are searching for belonging will find those communities and find their way home.
Rob: That’s beautiful. Thank you very much, Kate. So that’s Kate Hall and Q-Lit. Get involved, get onto it.
Kate: Thanks so much, Rob.