Spotlight on Larissa Behrendt

Larissa Behrendt1. Of all the art forms why literature?
As an Aboriginal person, I feel like I grew up in a culture steeped in a tradition of storytelling. Writing stories as a form of expression seemed to come very naturally. I loved writing from a very young age as a way of expressing how I felt.

2. In the writing community you’re probably most well known for your fiction. Why that genre?
There is a large freedom within writing fiction. It allows a writer to explore themes that can be very difficult to talk about in a non-fiction setting. I find it a great vehicle for exploring my ideas about the experiences Aboriginal people have with racism in the most intimate parts of their lives that many other Australians may be unaware of.

3. What is your major goal as a writer?
To write stories that speak to people. The biggest compliment I have had is when people have read my work and they tell me it captured their experiences or gave them a way of expressing what they felt but couldn’t say.

4. What or whom would you say influences your writing most?
My experiences and relationships with people in my family and the Aboriginal community. My Aboriginality defines who I am and so it also defines my writing.

5. What role does Indigenous literature play in Australian society today?
I see Indigenous literature as being an important way through which contemporary Aboriginal cultures continue our tradition of storytelling. It provides a way for us to tell stories to each other and to communicate to non-Aboriginal Australia so they can better understand who we are.

6. If you could recommend only one book, what would it be?
Smoke Encrypted Whispers by Samuel Wagan Watson.

Do you have any web links you’d like us to include?
National Indigenous Times:
Jumbunna, University of Technology, Sydney: