Interview with Maria Tumarkin | Spirit of Punk

Welcome to the Writing 101 newsletter.

I had the huge pleasure last week of interviewing Maria Tumarkin on the craft of writing. Maria is a writer, cultural historian, and teacher of creative writing, whose four books to date TraumascapesCourageOtherland and Axiomatic have poked, provoked, challenged and confronted, and changed the landscape of Australian non-fiction. Her awards include the Melbourne Prize for Best Writing and the international Windham-Campbell Literature Prize. Axiomatic was named one of The New Yorker’s Top Ten Books of 2019. In short, Maria is one of Australia’s pre-eminent non-fiction writers.

Maria joins Sofie Laguna, Alex Miller, Graeme Simsion and Nikki Gemmell in my growing library of interviews for Writing 101 students.

The entire interview will be available soon for anyone who enrols in one of the Writing 101 courses. Extracts of the video interview are available here or click the image below to start watching now. 

Library workshops

Photo by RetroSupply on Unsplash

Over the next few monthsI will be delivering some free writing workshops in Victorian libraries. The intention is to do them face-to-face but there may be the need to do some of them via Zoom. The fewer of these the better because it will mean we’re still in lockdown. The workshops are tasters of my three courses, but there is another workshop called The Art of Feedbackthat is designed for writing groups. If you have a writing group and would like a free workshop, contact me at

And speaking of The Art of Feedback workshop, I had the pleasure of delivering it to the Peninsula Writing Group. It was a fun, lively hour and I hope they got as much out of it as I did.

Open mic night

Spirit of Punk

Another one of my ventures is an open mic event for emerging writers, called Spirit of Punk.

I’ve been running it for a few years, usually in Melbourne bars, but to help us all cope with lockdown, I have an online version coming up on Thursday 21 October at 7.00pm.

Spirit of Punk is a wordslam/reading event that evokes the ethos of punk rock – to have a go and have your voice heard. Come prepared or improvise – any genre, any style – just no longer than a Ramones’ song.

Log on and join others reading out a piece of their own creative writing, or just sit back and enjoy those who do.

This will be a Zoom event. For the Zoom link, email me at

This month’s writing tip relates to character. It’s for those who have more than one main character. If you have two or more main characters, make sure you make them as different from one another as possible. That way more conflict is inevitable – and as I pointed out last month, conflict is everything.

So, for example, make sure one character is a risk-taker and the other is risk-averse. Make sure one is punctual and the other is always late.

You get the message.

Thank you for subscribing to this newsletter. Writing 101 was designed with people like you in mind. I know you won’t be disappointed if you sign up for one of the courses.


Nicolas Brasch.