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Our July Member Spotlight features Alex Sarkis! Following a successful match at an ASA Virtual Literary Speed Dating event, Alex secured a publishing contract with Ultimo Press, and her debut novel Something Blue will be published on 6 July 2022.
Alex Sarkis was born and raised in Sydney’s West to Lebanese immigrant parents. In her early twenties, she began writing stories of her own. For the past 10 years, it’s been her enduring dream and passion to be a writer and to produce good work that readers will love. Her main source of inspiration has always been the wild and wonderful landscape of her hometown, her family’s heritage, and the pride she feels in being an Australian
What inspired you to begin writing?
I’ve always had a passion for writing, and just for words in general. Song lyrics in particular have always been a big source of inspiration for me. What inspired me to write this story, however, was Sydney’s vibrant landscape, and the fact that there was nothing else like it. I wanted Something Blue to speak to a time, and a place, and a generation of young Australians, and to really encapsulate how significant Western Sydney is to so many people.
What does it mean to you to be publishing your debut novel, Something Blue, following a successful match at Literary Speed Dating?
A mentor of mine recommended that I pitch my novel via the ASA’s LSD event – I hadn’t known about it prior and was so anxious when it came time to pitch my work! The team at ASA, however, were so encouraging and accommodating on the day, and really helped with the whole experience. Matching with Ultimo Press, for me, was a dream come true. I had my heart set on signing with a Sydney-based publisher, and I knew that Ultimo would really see the value in my work. Pitching via the LSD event was such a great way to connect face-to-face with potential publishers, and to get timely feedback from them about my book. I signed with Ultimo and my first novel, Something Blue, is due to be released on the 6th of July. The ASA’s LSD event made this possible.
What do you know now that you wish you’d known at the beginning of your writing journey?
A few things! Firstly, just to trust in the creative process of writing a book – that writer’s block will come and go, and that sometimes the best thing you can do is to just take a break. Another major thing I wish I knew was how intense the editing process would be! The final manuscript of Something Blue has evolved so much from the original draft, and so I guess the major takeaway would be to keep an open mind and to always prioritise good storytelling.
Which Australian authors and/or illustrators have been influential for your writing practice and career?
The first major influence on my writing was Melina Marchetta’s Looking for Alibrandi. I read it in high school and aside from just loving the story, it completely reframed for me what contemporary fiction could look like – that telling a story about ethnic characters in Sydney could actually reach and resonate with the masses, despite it seeming niche. More recently, Trent Dalton’s Boy Swallows Universe was another significant influence on my writing. I love how he marries both humour and heartache against a suburban Australian backdrop. The way he describes the people and places in his novel – all those wonderful details – were just magic to me.