What is your writing/publishing background?
I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was small, but had little idea of how to go about it. I majored in English in university (in the United States, where I’m from), and took some creative writing classes. My professors told me about MFA (Master of Fine Arts) programs in Creative Writing. I ended up going to West Virginia University and focused on Creative Nonfiction writing. I decided on nonfiction instead of fiction—which had been a greater interest during my undergraduate degree—when I picked up a copy of the journal Creative Nonfiction and fell in love with the genre. As part of my MFA, I wrote personal essays, many of which I was able to publish in literary journals.
After I graduated with my MFA, I moved to Abu Dhabi to begin teaching at a university there. I spent a year in Abu Dhabi and a year in Dubai, teaching at another university, and then I returned to the United States to write my travel memoir, Abu Dhabi Days, Dubai Nights. I took a big risk by returning home and writing the book full-time, but I felt I needed to concentrate solely on this project. I was only able to write full-time because of my very generous and supportive family, who let me live with them rent-free while I wrote. I moved to Adelaide in 2010 to begin my PhD, and soon after I was able to sell Abu Dhabi Days, Dubai Nights. The book was published by Pan Macmillan in 2012.
I’m currently writing a novel called Hungry for the World and Its Glow. I now work full-time at the University of Adelaide, and this commitment has made for a very different writingexperience than my last book. However, I have thought about the characters in this book for several years, all through writing my PhD thesis, so now I do feel that when it is time to write—on the weekends and after work—I’m motivated and ready put down on paper what I’ve been planning in my head for so long.
Where is your favourite place in Adelaide?
This will probably sound obvious, but my favourite place is the Central Markets. When I first moved to Adelaide I lived on Grote Street right next to the markets, and it was the perfect place to be as a newbie to Adelaide. I love Friday night dinners at the vegan stall in the food court, stocking up at Goodies & Grains, and admiring the beautiful produce at House of Organics.
What are you doing for the EWF Adelaide Roadshow?
I’m moderating the Me, Me, Me: Writing about the Self session as part of the Saturday Masterclass, and I’m part of the First – Page Clinic on Sunday afternoon from 1-3. Come by and bring along the first page of whatever you’re working on! We’ll do our best to help you make those opening paragraphs as captivating as possible.
Jillian Schedneck’s appearance at EWF Adelaide is proudly supported by The University of Adelaide.