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Reading, writing and ideas

What I’m Borrowing: Lisa Fuller

By Reading and Writing | 26 August 2020

What I’m Borrowing is a new blog series exploring our affection for libraries, loans, and sharing great reads. Each post we ask a Queensland writer and reader to tell us about their recent lending-loves.

This month we welcome author Lisa Fuller. Lisa is working on a lot of acronyms – a YA for her PhD, a MG for her niblings and a scary YA for herself. She admits she’s possibly lost it a little. Lisa’s debut novel, Ghost Bird, recently won the 2020 Readings Young Adult Book Prize, and been shortlisted in the Queensland Literary Awards, among others.

Two images: the left is of author Lisa Fuller from the chest up. She is wearing glasses and smiling. The left is the book cover of Ghost Bird; it is black with white text and a few blue feathers.

Tell us about the last thing you borrowed from the library. How did you discover it? Did you return it on time?

Sadly, the last time I went to a library was late 2019. I borrowed a bunch of very dry books for my PhD from the University of Canberra Library, intending to return them when I got back from the Christmas holidays. And then COVID hit, the libraries shutdown, and I’ve felt vaguely guilty ever since. They aren’t due till September, I swear!

One of them was so amazing I bought myself a copy. Woman, Native, Other: Writing Postcoloniality and Feminism by Trinh T. Minh-Ha has been really inspiring to me. It gave me the courage to go down a very different path for my exegesis.

Do you remember your first library card? Can you describe the library you visited as a child?

We moved around a bit when I was a kid, so I can’t remember which town I got my first library card in. I do remember loving trips to the library, they were my happy places. But the one that stands out is the Toowoomba City Library. Eight-year-old me was beyond excited discovering the sheer size of that place! We’d go as a family, drop my big sister off at the computers to play games, and then Mum and I would make off in completely different directions. I remember these gigantic wooden shelving set-ups that made me feel like I was vanishing into another world. Sometimes I’d sit down cross-legged on the hard carpet so I could scan each book before making my selection. I’d get lost in there for hours… or until my sister got fed up, tracked us down and dragged us out of there.

What other items are you, and people in your house, borrowing right now?

With all that’s been going on in the world we’ve been trying to buy books, to support the authors and also the local bookstores. Also, I’m in a high-risk category so I try to stay home as much as possible. (Says she who is currently in Ipswich, but it’s to help my family in an emergency, so it’s different.)

I think having our crazy staffy, Luna, has stopped me as well. Ever since she ate my library books from the local city library, I’ve been too embarrassed to get more, and worried about what she’d do if I did. I have literally hundreds of books around the house, but she specifically targeted the library ones. I have no proof, but I suspect she did it to punish me for not paying enough attention to her. The horror of having to show my local librarian the chewed remnants, while mumbling ‘my dog ate them’… that was worse than having to pay for the replacements. Although I’m fairly certain the librarian was trying not to laugh.

Luna managed to eat parts of Carpentaria by Alexis Wright, Steam Pigs by Melissa Lucashenko and Calypso Summer by Jared Thomas. So… I guess at least she’s got good taste? Come to think of it, she hasn’t chewed on Ghost Bird yet. Maybe I should be insulted?

Two images: the left is of three books that have been damaged and torn. The right is of the book Ghost Bird which is black with white text and a few small blue feathers on the cover. A brown dog is in the background, looking sternly at the camera.

Luna’s revenge; Luna resenting Ghost Bird

Thinking about your own bookshelf, what is your favourite book to lend out from home?

I… don’t like sharing my books normally. I have a terrible memory and I used to lend things out, then forgot who I gave them to. I can get a replacement, but it upsets me. I get gifted a lot of books, but I also buy them as rewards for myself when I’ve achieved a goal or milestones. I keep all the gifts, and the ones that I know I will reread, so they all have meaning.

But I will absolutely share with people I love and trust to return them. I think the last lot I lent out was a few of Tony Birch’s novels to my father-in-law. He loved them, as expected. And I recently bought my mum her own copy of White Girl so she’d stop trying to claim mine.


Lisa Fuller is a Wuilli Wuilli woman from Eidsvold, Queensland, also descended from Wakka Wakka and Gooreng Gooreng peoples. She is doing her PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Canberra. She has won a 2019 black&write! Fellowship, the 2017 David Unaipon Award for an Unpublished Indigenous Writer, the 2018 Varuna Eleanor Dark Flagship Fellowship and a 2018 Copyright Agency Fellowships for First Nations Writers.

Currently working as a sessional academic at the University of Canberra, Lisa also works as a freelance editor, writer and publishing consultant. Her debut novel, Ghost Bird, recently won the Readings 2020 Young Adult Book Prize. It has also been shortlisted for the Queensland Literary Awards, the Norma K Hemming Award, the 2020 CBCAs Book of the Year Older Reader, and the 2019 Aurealis Awards. You can listen to Lisa read the first few chapters of Ghost Bird on her website.

Lisa lives in a renovator’s delight in Canberra with a goofy staffy and patient partner.

A dog taking a nap next to an open laptop.

Luna thinks she’s Lisa's muse – she must be touching the keyboard when Lisa is writing.


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