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Artist Profile: Siv Parker - Twitter fiction writer

Announcing more good news for Siv:-

Siv has been chosen as one of three writers to take her blog, OnDusk, into book form through the ‘Blurb-Blog-to-Book’ challenge.

‘I’m sure my success is partly due to tips I was able to get on tidying my blog format, honing my publishing pitch and writing in general from the Emerging Writers’ Festival I was able to attend thanks to the RAF Quick Response Grant,’ Siv said.

You can read about the Blurb Blog to Book challenge here.

Artist Profile

If you spend any time in the writing community of the Twitterverse, the name Siv Parker is a familiar one. Siv, a Yuwalaaray woman originally from northwest NSW and now resident in Lismore, is an award-winning writer. This month she celebrated her second anniversary on Twitter with just over 2,500 followers (and rising).

Siv worked for thirty years in Indigenous affairs in various sectors and roles, before taking up writing full time a couple of years ago. She is an acknowledged social commentator and emerging screenwriter/producer.

She’s taken to Twitter like a moth to a flame: an apt analogy for the woman who when asked how she tells her stories through this social media platform imagines she is ‘sitting around a fire talking to people, telling a story’.

Recently with the assistance of a Regional Arts Fund Quick Response grant from Regional Arts NSW, Siv appeared at the Emerging Writers Festival (EWF) in Melbourne where she was able to connect with other writers and publishers. She also had reinforced just how strong her brand as Australia’s pioneer Indigenous storyteller on social media is.

Robyne Young asked her if the brand title is one she is happy with.

Yes, I am being marketed as Australia’s pioneer Indigenous storyteller on social media. I had been on Twitter about 18 months when I live tweeted an original story, Maisie May, on January 26 this year. For many of us that is Survival Day. My tweetyarn as it came to be known was made up of thirty-eight tweets. That story, along with another short story I wrote, was included with new works from twenty other Indigenous writers in the new black&write! Anthology, Writing Black: New Indigenous Writing from Australia. The anthology was launched at the conference.

It wasn’t the first Emerging Writers’ Festival you’d attended. Tell us about meeting Australian author, Jennifer Mills in 2012.

In 2012 at EWF sponsored me to attend. This lead to me writing a piece the edition of Australian Review of Fiction that Jennifer Mills was curating. My story, Nightwalkers, appeared with a story by award winning writer, Bruce Pascoe, My Red Shirt. Australian Review of Fiction pairs an emerging writer with an established writer.

Before you entered the realms of social media, you wrote in more traditional forms?

Yes, and I still do. I was the recipient of the 2012 David Unaipon Award for an Unpublished Manuscript at the Queensland Literary Awards with a work entitled Story. I had always wanted to write a book and so I did, but also I was very sure that I didn’t want to write memoir. I am far more interested in fiction and social realism, so that’s what I have written and I’m currently working on the manuscript for my first novel.

Was it a conscious decision to use social media, and in particular blogging and Twitter, as a vehicle for telling stories?

Yes. A very conscious decision and not just to promote my own writing but also to contribute and work to enhance a rich cultural life for the community and to support other Indigenous writers and artists to tell their stories. Also to enhance awareness of Indigenous history, culture and the contribution it can make to Australian prosperity.

It is the major way I’m building my reputation as a writer and already some fantastic opportunities have come to me, but it’s also a case of identifying the people who can mentor you. I’m an active member of Indigenous writing networks including the First Nations Australia Writers Network; Northern Rivers Screenworks with mentor Jon Bell whose writer credits include Gods of What Street and Redfern Now; Metroscreen Indigenous Producers and the online Indigenous blogging community,

Reference to your tweetyarn ended up in an unlikely place. Can you tell us about that?

I had my first academic citation in March 2013. Yarning is now a recognised research method used in Indigenous health research.

Returning to the Emerging Writers Festival – what were the benefits of you attending?

I had so much more media interest than I could have imagined. The interest in Twitter as a medium to tell stories was incredibly high and this opened many more doors than I anticipated. I also had the opportunity to blog daily at my blog, OnDusk and from this picked up two paid writing commissions. From the interest in the Awaye! Radio interview I created a six-yarn, tweetyarn series An Outsider: Tales from the Fringe.

You also have some very exciting new projects you’re working on. What can you tell us about them?

They’re diverse! I’ve found that there’s a shared experience of other First Nation people and believe that the way I tell stories can be applied across all of these nations, so I’m developing an International Indigenous online storytelling festival for January next year. We’ll be sharing stories in real time. I’ve also been invited to run a workshop for students that include Twitter fiction events. As well, I’ve been contracted to provide cultural awareness to medical students at the University of Sydney Lismore campus.

Writing Black: New Indigenous Writing from Australia is available on  iTunes here.

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