Local artist profile: Lauren Mitchell

December 26, 2022 BY

Page turner: Mitchell’s new children’s book, Dragon Dance, will be launched on 21 January at the Bendigo Library. Photo: SUPPLIED

This week we chat with well-known Bendigo writer and journalist, Lauren Mitchell


What initially motivated you to become a writer?

The books I read as a child. The good teachers who encouraged me. The retail job I was bored with after three years. The persistent energy within that told, and continues to tell me, to get to the page.


How would you describe your writing style and how did you develop it?

It changes whether I’m writing a feature article, piece of memoir or tinkering with fiction. I hope my writing generally skips along lightly and fluidly and always puts the story first. I’ve developed my voice via practice and bravery over 20-plus years of writing.


Which other writers inspire you and why?

Locals! The brilliant local journalists I’ve worked with, the talented local novelists, poets and children’s authors I read. The many local writers laying down words in the wee hours. They inspire me because they’re all living their truth, with integrity and creativity. It’s not an easy thing to do. We’re fortunate to have a beautiful, inclusive writing culture and community in Bendigo.


What are some highlights or fond memories you have from your career so far?

Being published alongside Paul Kelly, Tim Winton and Charlotte Wood in Slow Magazine was very cool. As was my first article in The Australian. I’m looking forward to reading my upcoming children’s book to my little boy, although I think he’s sick of hearing about it! Really, the highlights are always driving home from an interview with someone amazing, with that wonderfully energising feeling of having discovered a cracking story to write. There’s nothing quite like it.


How has your practice been affected by COVID? Has there been little change or has it had a substantial effect?

I had a busy, social writing job at La Trobe Uni before COVID. Then I went home to work with the rest of the world and have been there ever since. I found a silver lining when I wrote Dragon Dance. It’s a children’s story based on Bendigo’s Chinese dragon tradition, and the past three years when the dragons have ‘slept’. The main character is a creative, resourceful little kid called Sunny, who acts to save the family tradition. Our children missed out on so much, and yet often they were the ones who helped get us all through. That’s what inspired my story.


How can people check out your work?

They can read Bendigo Magazine, purchase an Artist Spaces book from oftheworldbooks.com or come along to the Dragon Dance launch, with illustrator Geoff Hocking, on 21 January at the Bendigo Library, but they’ll need to book via the library website.


What would you say to regional aspiring writers who are thinking of having a go at working as a professional?

Enrol in the professional writing and editing course at Bendigo TAFE. I did 25 years ago and haven’t stopped writing since.