I met crime writer Natalie Conyer at Oz Comic-Con in Sydney, where we were on the same panel. We admitted we were both Comic-Con first timers; nonetheless, we were being shown through the bowels of the venue to the top-secret location of the green room by Annie McCann, our third panelist and a regular emcee who had been facilitating panels all day. If 'green room' sounds glamorous, it shouldn't: it was more of a place where the three of us could snatch some bottled water and fruit before getting on stage.
On stage for a Clan Destine Press showcase, for this company publishes all three of us, the word that comes to mind when I think of Nat is encouraging. She didn't hesitate to urge all comers to enter the Scarlett Stiletto, a crime fiction contest in which she has won several awards. I once tried to enter this but, unlike Nat, I lack subtlety. My killer appeared with all the finesse of TikTok's red flag guy who comically waves an oversized scarlet cloth like he's trying to enrage a bull.
Natalie Conyer. Photo: supplied
Natalie Conyer is the 19th in my series of creatives to take five questions.
When my creative process is stuck I reach for… sugar. Not kidding. Seriously, though, when my creative process is stuck I go over what I’ve written already. I walk with music in my ears, or swim, or take a long shower, and sometimes ideas emerge. The most effective way to get unstuck, however, is to just to sit down, grit my teeth, and start work. In my case, that’s writing, and the idea is not to try to get it right, but just get something on paper. Anything. In his great book On Writing, Stephen King says the muse won’t scatter fairy dust unless you’re doing the grunt work first. He’s right. If you keep pushing through, it’ll come.
The weirdest thing about being a creative human is... how every time I think I’ve come up with an idea so crazy nobody could ever believe it, I find something in real life that goes far beyond anything I could ever think of. Also weird is how I look at life and people as a creative source. Can you be creative and compassionate at the same time, or is there a coldness at the creative heart, one that mines people for material? I’m not sure.
The most unusual object in my house is… me. Sometimes I think I belong here, in this place I’ve crafted to suit myself; other times it seems totally alien, as if I were seeing it on film for the first time. And that’s true of wherever I am.
I celebrate my achievements by... being quietly smug, mostly alone. I’m not a people person – a socialised introvert, really – and I’m happiest by myself or with a couple of trusted others. Also, because I came to creativity late in life, I don’t take time off to celebrate. I just keep moving on.
Something in the world that already exists that I wish I had created is... oh, gazillions of things! Small genius things like Post-it Notes or paperclips. Chocolate. Coriander. Michelangelo's slave sculptures. Hilary Mantel’s books. Cashmere, Bialetti Moka pots. Fado music. Anything that makes life more comfortable and more beautiful.