Q&A with Jude Bridge

21 August 2013 Jude Bridge

Q&A with Jude Bridge

Jude Bridge

Perth-based writer Jude Bridge has been published twice in The Big Issue’s annual fiction edition. In both cases, Jude’s work was picked from hundreds of entries, with editors judging the competition ‘blind’ (ie, no names attached to the stories). Last year, we featured her story ‘The Stand-in’ and in the fiction edition on sale right now, we’re featuring her hilarious cautionary tale of scentless monsters, ‘Travisty’. Jude has been published in various other journals and publications, including Dot Dot Dash, Sand and Indigo.

Have you always written fiction?

I wrote my first illustrated novel, six pages short, at primary school. There was a long lull until 1999, when I submitted a very rude short story to the HQ/Flamingo Short Story Competition. Thrilled with my runner-up status, I embraced the short story and have been pumping them out ever since.

Have you studied creative writing?

At the tender age of 16, I attended Curtin University and studied Creative Writing with Elizabeth Jolley for a year. The experience was very strange for a rather immature young ruffian. I was more interested in drinking (the tavern didn’t ask for ID) and becoming a famous actor (which hasn’t happened...yet).

What do you do when you’re not writing?

For 15 years, I was a comedian in a series of all-girl duos and trios, singing and making merry in Australia, England, America and Hong Kong. When performing wasn’t fun anymore, I decided that perhaps it was time to grow up and actually earn some money for a change. So I returned to study and became a library technician, which is a fabulous day job. I didn’t succeed in growing up, though, and am now rehearsing with an old comedy partner to take to the stage again, which is pretty darn exciting. You can’t keep an old comedian down.

Which writers did you love as a kid? Who are your favourite writers?

As a youngster, Enid Blyton was my idol. I was particularly fascinated by the Faraway Tree and wanted one of my own. I also had shelves full of horse stories. They were all pretty much the same: the heroine met a wild horse that no one could tame and went on to win riding competitions.

As an oldster, I like Ryan O’Neill, for being oh-so clever, unusual and witty; Ben Elton because he is current, funny and surprisingly touching; Neil Gaiman, for creating such amazing worlds; Jodi Picoult, because a good cry is so cathartic; and Sue Grafton and Ruth Rendell, because they are old friends. My favourite writer ever – in the whole wide world – is Roald Dahl. He’s the master of the short story. I wish I’d written his stuff.

What are you reading at the moment?

Through Splintered Walls, a short-story collection from Kaaron Warren. The story ‘Sky’ rocks.

What are your writing habits?

I write while I’m swimming laps. Ideas come thick and fast and I have to finish my 20–30 laps (both obsessive-compulsive and superstitious behaviour) before crouching on a bench, usually dripping wet, and writing as fast as I can so I don’t forget anything. At home, I have an uncluttered, designated table to write on, with a view of the garden (essential). I write longhand.

How would you describe your leanings genre-wise?

I am an extreme genre-hopper. Much of my work fits into the ‘slightly ridiculous’ genre, but conversely, I also write quite seriously about the humdrum of life. Some days I think I’m slipstream [non-realist fiction that crosses various genre boundaries]. Some days I think I’m completely hopeless, some days traditional, experimental, repulsive, speculative. I have possibly delved into ‘bizarro’. There is humour in nearly everything I write; I can’t help it.

How did you come up with the idea for this year’s story, ‘Travisty’ – about greasy, odourless monsters?

‘Travisty’ is based on real life. Most of it is true. I know a Travis.

The Big Issue fiction edition is on sale now. See editor Alan Attwood talk with past and present Big Issue books editors about the magazine's annual fiction edition at a Melbourne Writers Festival event on 1 September. It's free!