John Clanchy has written seven volumes of fiction (novels, novellas and short stories).
His work has won awards in Europe, the US, New Zealand, and Australia.
His novel The Hard Word (2002) was awarded the ACT Book of the Year and Vincenzo’s Garden (2005), a collection of prize-winning short stories, have been published to wide critical acclaim.
John’s forthcoming novel, Sisters, which he wrote over two retreats at La Muse, will be published by La Muse Books.
Born in Melbourne John has lived in Canberra since 1975.
What do you consider most valuable about your retreat at La Muse?
I came. I sat. I wrote. La Muse not only works so well for me in thinking and writing but it’s natural ambience and friendly Musing fellows have made the few months we’ve now spent here each year a joyful period in our lives. Vive La Muse! The atmosphere of the place – remote, mountainous, forested, a bit wild and yet comfortable at the same time. It is the perfect space for someone who has an artistic project and who wants both peace and solitude for their work, and when not working the company of friendly companions with like interests to talk with, share ideas, try out your work on etc.
Tell us, in a sentence or two, about the project you were focused on while on retreat.
In my first writing retreat (two months in spring of 2007) I completed four long stories focused thematically upon father-daughter relationships, which together with one other story written in Australia was published in 2008: Her Father’s Daughter (UQP). In my second retreat undertaken in late spring the following year, I wrote the first draft of a novel, provisionally titled The McLeay Sisters which I re-drafted back home and which is out being looked at by a publisher now.
What advice would you give future residents?
It’s crucial to research La Muse before you go, to realize that when it says that it is essentially a work space then that’s what it means (though you have lots of fun there too), and that you are disciplined enough in your own life to be able to use the time spent there well. Make sure you have a specific project to work on when you arrive, rather than hoping for ‘inspiration’ to strike once you get there. Be prepared to work hard AND to enjoy yourself – the people you’ll meet there, the beautiful forests and mountains … and French food and wine!
Finally your three French words to describe La Muse?
etonnante, feconde, accueillante…