About Michelle Symes

Compassion, difference and belonging

Through my writing I seek to explore how we can create a more ethical and inclusive world. My writing themes are compassion, difference and belonging.

I am a former journalist and corporate communications expert turned fiction writer, copywriter, editor, and mentor to high school and university students, aspiring writers and writers on the NDIS plan.

I’m writing my first novel through a University of South Australia PhD program. I am supported by supervisors and authors Professor Sue Joseph (Mediating memory: Tracing the limits of memoir, 2018, and Still there: Memoirs of trauma, illness and loss, 2019) and Dr Cameron Raynes (The Last Protector: The illegal removal of Aboriginal children from their parents in South Australia, 2018, and The colour of kerosene and other stories, 2019).

I’ve  written a novella, yet to be published, as part of my Honours studies, in which I achieved a First Class Distinction.

I’ve been published in the former Review of Australian Fiction, Westerly, The Age and Winning Writers, and been recipient of a number of state and national awards.

My novel is about two women, from different times, going to the Swan River, Fremantle, to find new ways to belong. The novel is a journey through ‘place’, through beginnings and endings, inclusions and exclusions and something else. As the river passes by, each time it passes by, there’s a conjuring of unnameable presences.

My writing journey:

I live near the bustling historic Fremantle port: home to artists, archaeologists, immigrants, all range of people; seagulls and sunlight. 

My PhD novel has taken me to the extremes of Australia: to the Blue Mountains when they were on fire in 2019, to the remote Dampier Peninsula when humpback mother whales passed by, and also to ancient caves and river gorges.

I have followed in the footsteps of a Bunuba Elder.

I have listened, waited. I have waited for Country to approach, and for it to meet me in the air. Quiet and alive.

Shaun Tan

Shaun Tan has kindly given me permission to use his images on this website.

Tan’s work talks to the pain, magic, sublime, absurd, wonder that exists in quiet spaces.

He is a visual story teller. I hope to listen to the quiet with words, and in this way touch their unheard potential.