Smells play an exaggerated role in the life of award-winning writer, Dave Luckett.
It may have something to do with some of the more, let’s say, fragrant places in which he has worked: a pig farm, a fertiliser factory and a chicken slaughtering plant.
But for the successful Perth-based writer and this year’s Flinders May Gibbs Fellow, invoking smells is an ideal way to distil the essence of a scene in fiction writing.
“You have to be able to pick up one telling detail to make the scene gel. And the thing that lingers most in your consciousness is smell,” Mr Luckett said.
It is part of the message on the value of “craft” that he imparts to Flinders creative arts students during the 15 hours of work with undergraduates and postgraduates that is part of the May Gibbs Trust Fellowship Partnership Program, established in 2004 and run by Professor Jeri Kroll, Program Coordinator of Creative Writing.
“How do you create a scene? How do you create a character? Using craft skills,” Mr Luckett said.
“We looked at a scene set in an untidy boy’s bedroom written by a Flinders student. She described the bedroom, the distribution of the furniture, the stacks of CDs, the dirty clothes. But what if you opened the door and there was that male smell? That would instantly have gelled the scene. And that’s craft.”
Inspiration is another matter and Mr Luckett doesn’t pretend to teach it.
“It’s an individual thing and how it works for me is different to how other writers are inspired,” he said.
It appears he has no shortage of inspiration, based on his prolific output. It spans children’s fantasy, young adult fiction, historical novels (written under the pseudonym L. S. Lawrence), Sci-Fi and non-fiction, including three books on cricket – one with Adelaide’s Max Fatchen.
Mr Luckett has ideas bubbling away for two novels that he will work on during his stay in the May Gibbs Children’s Literature Trust unit in Norwood. He’s not quite sure what will eventuate.
“Fellowships are meant to take you out of yourself, to take you away from your comfortable writing zone and put you into some place where you have to create something different. Something will happen.”