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A Novel Idea – Interview with Author and Thinker Krissy Kneen by Ahliya Farebrother

Ahead of Byron Bay Writers Festival in August we’ve been talking with Krissy Kneen about writing, blocks, and respecting your work.


Photo: Krissy Kneen. Credit: Anthony Mullins


Krissy, what is your favourite section of the bookshop and why?

 I love fiction. It calms me. I don’t have children so I suppose looking at novels that have been reprinted throughout the ages gives me some hope that my book babies will proliferate into the future.

What do you consider to be people’s most common blocks to writing?

 I think the major block is our own fear of failure. I am tempted to say that is our only block. We are afraid that it will not be good enough, we are afraid we will never finish the book or that it will feel like every other book written this year. We are afraid that the reality will not match our mental picture of what the book could be.  And you know. That will always be the case. The book is never as good as our image of it and that is ok.

What first led you to write?

 Reading was my first passion. Good books make a reader work. They make you bring your imagination and ideas to the story and when I read very good books as a child they demanded so much of me that I had too many ideas in my head and I had to put them on the page. Ray Bradbury was the first person to really make me want to be a writer. His books are a total collaboration with the reader.

When was the moment you really acknowledged that you are a writer?

 I felt odd calling myself a writer for many years even though I was one. I didn’t have anything major published and that made me shy of the title. The first time I felt I could use it was when I got a QWC residential mentorship to work with editor Judith Lukin Amundsen. She taught me that I should have been using the term all along. I was writing very seriously and regularly from the time I was 15 and I could have adopted the label back then. I felt I needed permission from a respected member of the literary community, which is crazy. I just needed to be brave enough to believe in what I was doing.

Finishing a novel in a year would be many people’s ideals, what is one ingredient of that secret recipe?

 Committing to it is the only real trick. It is hard work and the first draft is going to be awful. When you admit that to yourself and stop judging the work as you go along then you can set goals and stick to it.

Do you consider yourself a feminist?

Yes I am a feminist. I think any woman who cares about equality must be a feminist. The world is not yet an equal place for all and the gender divide has a massive impact on women. Till people stop asking for a ‘book for a boy’ or a ‘book for a girl’ we have a lot of work to do.


When confronting so many taboo subjects in your writing, what are some things you hope to achieve in writing?

 I really want people to question the taboos they accept blindly. We all have social taboos that we just assume are the way things should be, but taboos are completely socially agreed upon lines we do not cross. Sometimes we are blind to how arbitrary they are. I want people to think about our knee jerk reactions to taboos and to constantly question.

What does the landscape of and surrounding Byron Bay inspire in you?

 Byron Bay is astonishingly beautiful. I have gone there to have writing retreats and they have been incredibly productive. The ocean is such a force for change and inspiration. If I could I would have a writing place by the ocean. Those who live in Byron are incredibly lucky they have this.


Krissy will be presenting her workshop ‘Writing Your Novel in a Year’ on Thursday 6 August. BYRON BAY WRITERS FESTIVAL RUNS AUGUST 7-9 2015.


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