Degraves Street haunted by memories of a past lover. Racing monkeys at the end of Sunshine Road. One last, lonely bucks’ night on Brunswick Street.
Melbourne’s streets might not be as charming as Rome’s, as romantic as Paris’s, as edgy as New York’s – but they’re more than capable of telling a good story. In this collection of essays, short fiction and poetry, some of our best emerging and established writers turn their pens to the streets of Melbourne. They explore geographies of love, loss, disappointment and changing culture in a city beloved by many.
If you’ve ever lived in or visited Melbourne, or have a passing interest in our everyday connection to place, this is the book for you.
The book is most obviously a celebration of a city – Melbourne – but it’s also about our connection to place. It’s about the way geographical markers like streets can have a psychological as well as physical existence. So somewhere like Brunswick Street in Fitzroy is one street, but it means a million different things to millions of people.
Let's talk about it
Tell us something about yourself that not many people know.
I’m a keen West African percussionist – I play the djembe, and have been to West Africa twice to study traditional music from that region.
Why did you choose these themes in your book and were you aware of them from the outset?
Yes, I chose the theme of ‘Melbourne streets’ for this anthology quite deliberately, as I love Melbourne, and I know a lot of other people do too! I was interested in getting different perspectives on some of our most well-known streets, and I did. But what was interesting and unexpected was the range of mini-themes that emerged among the submissions. Some pieces were intensely personal, others were more historical and journalistic, and some were just wild rides down the streets of the author’s imagination!
How difficult was it for you to write this book? Did you face any obstacles?
Well, I didn’t write all of it! In terms of editing, it was not very difficult – there were some challenges figuring out the best way to present all the different works as a whole piece, and it took ages to decide on a title, but overall it was surprisingly smooth.
That’s not to say it wasn’t hard work – reading through all the submissions, selecting works, editing them, putting the book together – it’s a lot of work, and I and my co-editor, Sue, definitely put in the hours, around full-time day jobs and family work. But I wouldn’t say it was difficult, if you get what I mean.
What are your writing habits or idiosyncrasies?
I use the mornings for creative bursts of writing, and the afternoons for editing. I find it a lot easier to have something to work with after lunch, when my brain has a bit of a slump. I’m sure I’m not alone there… I also still do a lot of writing by hand, for the first draft. There’s something a bit more freeing about scrawling words across a page – you can’t go back and re-write (I can barely read what I’ve written sometimes, my handwriting is that bad) so you’re forced to go onwards. Definitely helps turn off the inner editor when it’s really not needed.
With hindsight, what would you say to yourself as a fledgling writer?
The usual – write more, don’t be afraid to fail, back yourself, and don’t lose sight of what you enjoy about writing. (Actually, this is what I still say to myself now!)
What’s next for your writing?
I have a nearly completed first draft of a novel that I’ve just returned to after 3 years, so I’m going to give that some attention and try to finish it. I’m also working on the third book in my junior fiction series, the Adventurer’s Apprentice, and have some more ideas for publishing projects like On the Street that are percolating.
Sarah Fraser is a medical writer who moonlights as an author and publisher. She is co-editor with Susanna Nelson of the anthology On the Street, which features work by Anna Kate Blair, Helen Cerne, Rijn Collins, Alyssa Coombs, Johanna Ellersdorfer, Michelle Fincke, Nick Gadd, Sheila Graham, Bea Jones, Allan Lake, SJ Lawry, Chris Muir, Thuy On, Mark Phillips, Olivia Shenken, Arathi Sriprakash, Anna Sublet, John White and Ailsa Wild.
Sarah is also the author of three books for younger readers: Dinosaur Danger!, Where’s my Mummy? and The Secret of the Catacombs.