It’s time for a new Writer in Residence on the SPP blog, and the topic of his upcoming essays seems tender, inquisitive, nostalgic and awesomely Canberra: if you had a soft spot for Joanna Pope’s rooftop tour of Canberra, you’re going to love Tom Brown.

Tom is originally from rural NSW. He’s just finished a Bachelor of Writing at the University of Canberra and he hopes to commence Honours in the New Year. He writes fiction, non-fiction and, occasionally, poetry. Tom’s work has been published in Burley, and he currently writes reviews and commentary for Dirty Gal. Our favourite line in Tom’s application was: ‘I started my Bachelor of Writing at the University of Canberra when I was seventeen. I’m now twenty two, and am quite a bit better and less full of hubris than I was then. Man, you get one good mark in HSC English and you think you’re hot shit.’

So we nabbed a quick interview with our latest literary star.


What corner of Canberra are you from, and what goes on there? Any cool secret stuff? I live on the north side, just near the University of Canberra. There’s cool stuff all over Canberra, but you have to go get it. Very excited about the impending Chop Shop in Braddon, assuming local gov lets it get off the ground. In terms of secret cool stuff near me though there’s not a whole lot, but when I was living on campus there used to be this really nice hill out the back of the uni where me and a few buddies would go and sit and drink beer and talk rubbish.

So now you’ve got this residency, what are you hoping to do with it? I just want to explore something that’s interested me for a long time, and do it properly. Hopefully other people find it as interesting as I do.

What do you worry about the most? Mediocrity and bills.

Name a book that you put down a slightly different person after you’d finished the last page. I do this terrible thing where I read a book halfway through and then put it down, get distracted, and pick up another one and do exactly the same thing. I hate it. There are a few I would mention though that I may, or may not, have read all the way through…Cloud Street by Tim Winton probably made me want to write, as cliché as that is. Michael Ondaatje’s In the Skin of a Lion has the best first page I’ve ever read, and the rest of it is amazing. David Foster Wallace changed my whole understanding of non-fiction pretty much. But those are just the highlights. One line out of an otherwise unremarkable book can change you.

Online must-visits? adamgnade.com – Really great writer from the US. He and a few other people run an independent publishing company out of an animal rescue farmhouse in Kansas. dirtygal.co – This is just a shameless plug for a blog that I do reviews and other bits and pieces for. Not porn, despite the saucy domain name. chopshopcanberra.com – Really positive project, check it out, support ‘em.


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