As, I mentioned yesterday in Day 1 at the Melbourne Writers Festival the second session I went to was All Made Up with Janice Galloway talking with Meg Mundell. “Galloway is Scotland’s most celebrated contemporary writers, the author of novels, short fiction and libretti. Her award winning, sharply detailed memoirs depict a tough upbringing and love of language and learning.”
Galloway is one of those gifted people who not only write with flair but who is a captivating speaker as well. She had the audience laughing, thinking, reminiscing, and at times, perhaps a touch tearful, as she recounted how she draws on her family and past in her stories.
She sees her stories more as sharing “commonalities of the human experience” rather than straight personal memoirs that she referred to as implying something that is perhaps a little more self indulgent. When questioned about drawing on her family and what they thought of her representation Galloway replied, “I didn’t ask them!” In fact her father, mother and sister were all dead before she got published. She also said, “My books are made up of known realities” where she is blending or interpreting experiences, memories etc. of her youth. She went on to refer to Irish writer, Clare Keegan, who said, “Life doesn’t happen in paragraphs” and felt this reflected her work that can be seen as “a trajectory between what you think and what is.”
Galloway’s sense of humour is contagious and belies, or masks, a past that she described as being “primed for drudgery” by her mother. From a tough working class Scottish background peppered with domestic violence, hardship and a get-tough-young attitude, Galloway was drawn to books as a child as they, “opened up the world and showed me that I wasn’t a solitary being for one thing and that there were different places and opportunities”.
Despite, or in spite of being a shy person, Galloway’s stories are told with wit and charm and are bound to hit a chord with many readers.
On a side issue Galloway spoke of her love of wombats saying, “Wombats cheer me up! If an animal that stupid can get by so can we!”
It was evident that Galloway has a real love for people as she spent a lot of time with each person afterwards at the signing table asking them questions just as much as she was being quizzed too!