A Conversation with Friends

Queer authors talk life and writing

Andrea Goldsmith, Luke Williams, Dennis Altman, Quinn Eades and Neal Drinnan talk life and writing. We posed the question: what shapes your writing life? Leading queer authors with close links to Hares & Hyenas respond in this conversation  about life, writing and the influences that shape their work. This is a writer's conversation in the truest sense in that the five authors are left to their own devices to structure and focus the discussion and where it takes them live on stage, with a chance for audience members to ask questions.

Dennis Altman is the author of over a dozen books. His first, Homosexual: Oppression and Liberation (1971), is a groundbreaking work that brought gay lib and its radical agenda to mainstream attention. Long before queer theory Dennis wrote of the ‘polymorphous whole’ and the ‘end of the homosexual’. His books since have included a novel and numerous non-fiction titles looking at AIDS through a global lens and politics at a local and global level. Dennis has contributed strongly to the debates and global movements that have led to the rise of queer identity politics and its evolution. His latest book, Unrequited Love, is a snapshot of his work over the past half century, and introduces us to scores of people across the world who have influenced and impassioned him. His works seldom speak of certainties, remain agnostic about things others hold as incontrovertible, and demonstrate a flexibility in thinking that readily takes in new evidence and the emergence of new communities. Dennis Altman  has had a long and distinguished career as an academic and currently Professor at La Trobe University.

Neal Drinnan is the author of seven books. His first novel, Glove Puppet, was released in 1998 and his latest, Rural Liberties, was released in 2017. As a novelist Neal glides expertly between the literary and the popular. With a strong background in publishing, bookselling, reviewing and an early career in gay publications, Neal has a strong understanding of literary and queer worlds, and is renowned as good-willed but incisive observer of both. His recently released true crime book, The Devil’s Grip, relied on his friendship with and expert testimony of Bob Perry, the lover of the book’s main character. Bob provided Neal with inside knowledge of the events behind the triple homicide and an understanding of the stultifying environment for queers in rural settings of the day. The book describes the manifest ways gay men found pleasures both fleeting and lasting, the lasting effects of intergenerational trauma and how attraction can outwit our best instincts at the worst of times. In the book, Neal also chronicles his own life, recalling personal milestones and evoking memories of the past and its cultural signifiers that bring the book’s events into sharp and unforgettable focus.

Quinn Eades is a poet, champion slam performer, academic, author, parent, cultural explorer and proudly polyamorous and polymorphous. Quinn has written his body in numerous works, both on stage and on the page, and his powerful, deeply inspirational words bely someone who can be fragile and furiously strong instants apart. Quinn takes real life experience, domestic and conceptual, and exposes it to rigorous analysis through cultural theory based on an unrelenting instinct to be truthful and expansive, open and inventive. Quinn creates new renderings of common experiences through an uncommon understanding that life’s events can be the subject of deep theoretical investigation and sharply felt at the same time. Quinn is a latitudinarian of secularism in the fields of cultural theory, research, poetry, ethnographic autobiography, writing, teaching and life. Quinn’s books include the poetry collection Rallying, and the poetic queer autobiography of the body, All the Beginnings, which in three words sums up Quinn’s work practice and philosophy of humanities studies.

Andrea Goldsmith has made a writing career of subverting the expectations of her reading audience, embracing queerness and difference in everything she writes. After a distinguished career as a speech pathologist for children with multiple diagnoses, Andrea went on to release her first novel, Gracious Living, in 1990. This has been followed by seven since. She is also an acclaimed teacher of writing and a much-published essayist. Her relationship with Dorothy Porter exemplified the importance of a ‘room of one’s own’, with Andrea and Dorothy having their own telephone lines and never speaking professionally on behalf of the other while being fiercely supportive and loving of the other. In her books Andrea invites her readers to see the familiar as if for the first time, and her latest novel, Invented Lives, is a novel of exile—exile from country, exile at home and exile from one’s own true self. Like many of her novels before, it evokes a Melbourne that is both familiar and thoroughly unexpected at the same time. It is Rowland’s favourite novel of 2020, even though it was released last year.

Luke Williams is a writer who candidly reveals the complex, nuanced and damaged parts of his life, including addiction, self-neglect and inherited mental instability. Compelling and deeply affecting, his recent book, Down and Out in Paradise, describes life after crystal meth and his journey to Asia in his attempt to write and think his way out of addiction, mental health issues, generational damage, anger and multiple other associated issues. Luke first highly acclaimed book, The Ice Age: A Journey into Crystal Meth Addiction, tells of his life in a meth dealer’s house in Packenham and his gradual addiction to the drug. It presents a palpable history of crystal meth in this country, its supply routes, impact and seductive power, relationship to class and the inevitable failure of government and law to deal with the commanding power of drugs. He is at manuscript stage of his first novel, which imagines Australia under a dictatorship and the steps it takes to get there. While Luke is in Melbourne he is sleeping rough some of the time to research his second planned novel, an autobiographical fiction whose first narrator is a homeless person in and out of psych wards. His purpose on the street is to talk to homeless people about how they find meaning in their lives. 

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Event & ticketing details


Wheelchair Access

Dates & Times

When Mon 20 Jan 7:30pm
Duration 2hrs


Full $18.00
Concession $12.00


Hare Hole (Hares and Hyenas)

63 Johnston St, Fitzroy

Get directions


11 to stop 16 | tram 96 to stop 15


200-207 to Brunswick/Johnston St

Event notes


New Work


Open content event

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