When I contacted Ellen van Neerven in May to see if they would talk with me about Personal Score, I was working in a bookstore. The new release, with its distinctive earth-toned, soccer ball-patterned cover, was piled in different places in the shop: facing out in Australian Studies, propped up in the window-seat, sitting on the counter. It seemed to migrate as well. One week it was in a NAIDOC display, nestled among First Nations new releases and classics, including van Neerven’s debut story collection Heat and Light. At another point it found a home in our queer writing display. As the Women’s FIFA Football World Cup approached, it could well have found a place next to Sam Kerr’s My Journey to the World Cup or the upbeat board book I Can Be a Matilda.

Personal Score’s many possible homes speak to the difficulty of categorising it, and the accompanying fear I had – as a bookseller or reviewer – of reducing it to any one of its parts. In the simplest terms, Personal Score is a sports memoir. But it’s also a sexy queer coming-of-age story! It’s poetry! Researched non-fiction! It’s a decolonial handbook! And it is, very passionately and unequivocally, a book about sport, particularly van Neerven’s beloved football (soccer) which they grew up playing in southeast Queensland. The book explores a relationship to football which is for van Neerven – as for so many queer and Indigenous people – filled with contradictions, both the source of belonging and achievement and the painful site of abuse. 

The fact that we may not know what to call Personal Score or where to put it is van Neerven’s first challenge to the reader: to acknowledge contradiction and to interrogate the distinctions modern Australia imposes on sport in opposition to other areas of life – art, politics, culture, the environment. Personal Score asks: ‘What does it mean to play sport on First Nations land?’ To even begin to engage with the question, the book asks us to first recognise the different set of values that has governed sport, play and culture in this sovereign place. ‘Sport of many kinds was played on this continent by blackfellas for thousands of years before whitefellas arrived with their supposed expertise and prowess,’ van Neerven writes. ‘For First Nations people, sport is part of life, part of work, part of education and part of looking after Country.’ 

A glimpse of the alternative sporting values explored in Personal Score – such as recognising sovereignty and rewarding kindness – have been on display during the women’s World Cup. When I spoke to van Neerven in May, it was hard, then, to imagine just how much and how quickly the nation’s relationship to women’s football would change. The new national heroes are a bunch of queer sporty women, who have shown their opponents compassion and brought their children and wives onto the field. Indigenous and Māori place names and flags have been broadcast across the globe in all official signage. The sporting world is rife with empty symbols, and so many big changes are still needed. But there’s also a hopefulness van Neerven points to in Personal Score and in this interview – ‘Little changes are still good changes’. 

This is not a beautifully written book about decolonising Australian sport. This is an ugly book that was born out of the ugly language I grew up hearing in this country… 
In this book, I am the parts of me that don’t know what I know now. I am becoming and I am belonging. 
I have a score to settle. 


Ruth McHugh-Dillon (RMD): What have you been able to gauge from people’s responses to Personal Score, through Q&As at events or otherwise? 

Ellen van Neerven (EvN): At Melbourne Writers’ Festival, lots of people came up and they just wanted to yarn, and I haven’t had that with a book before. Every single person who came up to me wanted to tell me a story about how sport affected their life. And it was just so interesting – and amazing. I realised, ‘Oh, this is an “issues” book, it’s different to poetry’. I think the book’s done what it intended to do, which was leave the reader with lots of their own questions. And not even questions that I could have come up with, but different kinds, layers on layers. Obviously the sports world is so fast-moving, there’s a game every week, the conversation is on what’s always happening in the moment … it just keeps going. 

RMD: But it seems as if Personal Score has given you the chance to do something more? A longer form, deeper thing, instead of just commenting on the news. 

EvN: True, yes. I think it can be a trap to be constantly reactive. Because then you don’t get a chance to dig deeper and think about things in context. Of course, getting stuff out there in the moment is really good, but we also need to sit with the things that take longer to brew. 

RMD: I don’t know if this resonates with you, but it seemed that so much of the book was pushing through or against dichotomies – between sport and the rest of life, sport and the arts, sport and being left-wing. At one point you write, ‘Talking about sports is a way of talking about life’. I wonder if there’s an aspect of this book that gives people – arty, queer people – the chance to embrace their love of sport, while still feeling conflicted about it. 

EvN: I think maybe that’s what the response in places like the Melbourne Writer’s Festival shows. It’s giving people permission to talk about sport – and as you said – it’s consciously making that space. Where they can recognise, ‘Oh yeah, I love sport too.’ 

RMD: Like ‘coming out’ about sport. 

EvN: Yeah, exactly. I feel in some ways Melbourne is a city where you could do it more easily than in other cities. Because lots of people love their AFL footy – or the tennis – no matter what else they do. It’s very much a sports-forward city. 

RMD: Though I can think of friends for whom there’s a lot of trauma about sport because of being queer and the experience of exclusion. So there’s a chance to reclaim sport: it’s something we do as well. 

EvN: Well said. And if that trauma goes unresolved and untalked about, it can create these layers of shame. So I really agree, thank you. I’m glad this book touches on that. 

RMD: I’m also really interested in its form. Personal Score has the ‘issues-based’ stuff, as you said, but it combines that contemporary commentary with memoir and poetry. It felt like you were breaking down binaries to explore different kinds of pleasure in the body, different ways of using your body. Was that a conscious intention? 

EvN: I think it was conscious. And for the reasons you’ve described: I really wanted to queer form and explode it in a way that would match my intentions. I wanted to match the form because I was doing so many different things, and normally I would have had to choose. Well, what are you going to focus in on, and with what form, what container? Is that going to be very straight longform journalism, or history, or memoir, or poetry? And I didn’t want to choose. 

RMD: Is a lot of that pressure to choose about selling it? There’s a question about how visible the book is in a store, and where it belongs, which relates to what you just said about resisting the straightness of categorisation.  

EvN: Yeah, I think so. You have to put it somewhere and so I’ve gone into bookshops and I’ve seen Personal Score alongside the autobiography of the Formula One driver, Fernando Alonso. That’s kind of interesting. I don’t know that it necessarily fits there, but then – is it a sports book? Or is it just non-fiction? What is it? 

RMD: Do you want to define it? 

EvN: I don’t think so. I’ve gone down that track before, where people tried to define Heat and Light – as a short story collection or a novel with stories, or speculative fiction. I feel that as soon as you put a label on it, you trap it a little bit. I let other people do that. Sometimes it sits well and sometimes it doesn’t. But I realise it’s always in relation to other books and what’s going on. When I was at Auckland Writers’ Festival recently, they called it a ‘sports memoir’, and I thought, ‘I guess it’s a sports memoir?’ But it’s very obviously non-traditional – for someone who is not a professional athlete to write a sports memoir. 

RMD: When I hear ‘sports memoir’, I think of a now retired elite athlete who’s had a certain trajectory: overcoming a particular struggle, being at the top of the game, and now writing a book about it. Whereas you’re unpicking that arc. The memoir aspect of Personal Score is also about letting go of playing, and about the physical damage, as well as the emotional toll, from not feeling fully safe in the place that should have been safe for you. 

EvN: You’re so right actually. The arc of the sports memoir – the ones that are most likely ghost-written, most likely from a commercial publisher, and that also get adapted into movies – it typically involves a person with some sort of tough backstory and then they get into sport, and sport is a safe place, sport is where they can excel. People love them because of what they do. 

RMD: Despite everything. Despite race. 

EvN: Yeah, exactly, it’s their utopia. And then often when they talk about retiring, it’s like, ‘Oh, I have to cross this threshold, from the place where I was loved.’ But they get to exit that utopia, and still be loved for who they are. What I’m talking about is how sport is not always a place where people like me can be safe from the start. So it’s pushing against that narrative. And, as you said, also about recognising some of our friends who just had to step away, exit abruptly, for whatever reason. 

RMD: Or who could never even step in, in the first place. 

EvN: Yeah, or they put a toe in and then had to go out. Later in life, some of them reclaim a love for sport. Or a love for fitness or whatever. But some never do. 

RMD: I played soccer when I was a kid, up until I was about fifteen. A lot of people in that girls’ team stopped around that age. In my twenties I’ve come back to playing futsal, and there’s lots of people on my team also rediscovering it. But if you didn’t ever have an experience of sport feeling good, you can’t reclaim it. Or maybe you can get there, but it’s much harder to connect? 

EvN: Yeah, absolutely. 

RMD: That’s also why I think that your book offers an interesting intersection of different people’s experiences. As you said earlier, some queer people have been surprised to see themselves in it, or connect with it, given that they don’t identify as a sports lover. But I also think there’s a lot there for people who already love sport, and who might engage with queer critical theory for the first time. There’s so much in it that’s – more simply – about pleasure and joy in sport and the land. 

EvN: I hope so. I have a friend, Samantha Lewis, who’s an ABC sports journalist. And she endorsed the book. She gets it, particularly queer stuff. We had a lot of conversations about the piece in the book ‘Trans Sporting Utopias’ that centres the voice of trans people, their relationship with sports. And she said she got a lot out of that, which I was really grateful to hear. In terms of how she approaches subjects. Sometimes – like you would know with journalism – it can be unethical, how we get people’s stories, get people to tell their stories, stuff like that.

Many First Nations sports are non-competitive, whereas European sports are almost exclusively competitive. First Nations sporting traditions promote wellness and social bonds, whereas European sporting traditions can further social divides… A key difference emerges: First Nations sport is about working with the environment and animals and plants, whereas non-Indigenous sport is in direct opposition with the environment and sees the environment as part of conquering. 

‘Very Athletic People’ 

RMD: The sport memoir arc is set up around the idea of ‘triumph’: whatever conditions you’re overcoming, you’ll win against the odds. But I learned so much from Personal Score about how sporting values could look different to these ideas of triumph and conquest – that militant kind of language that we teach to even really young kids – and in fact have been very different on this continent. Did you know much about that before you started researching, or did it come through the process of writing? 

EvN: I think I did know inherently, and through community and family. We always treated sport as something that was really binding, and about identity, about family. When I was younger, there was something spiritual in the way I used to feel about playing in different places. And I was really hungry to learn more. It’s been a journey to learn about the places I used to play in, and the places I live in, and it’s all kind of adding up. That’s what I wanted to explore in the book: that journey. Not necessarily knowing everything, but everything joining together.  

Learning more about traditional sports, that was really amazing. Like when I was playing at the National Indigenous Football Championships, and this idea of the possum-skin ball game was constantly mentioned. So many older versions of sports, traditional sports similar to the sports we play now, are still played throughout the country. And these games were so connected to Country. Everything was: the materials, the ball, everything. 

Note: Variations of a traditional, football-like game, played with a small possum-skin ball, are found across the country. Van Neerven writes that ‘Possum-skin balls, sewn together with ochre, ash, resin and binder are a staple of First Nations sporting cultures and our cultures in general.’ The Wiradjuri version, Woggabaliri, is recognised by the Australian Sports Commission as one of the oldest Indigenous ball games: ‘This is a kicking volley game. The players do not take sides, instead using teamwork, technical ability and agility to keep the ball from hitting the ground.’  

RMD: In this context, your book suggests that even the word ‘sport’ might not fully fit, right? Because play and culture and sport mean, and have meant, something different to First Nations people. As a white Australian I was confronted with my assumption that sport is always about winning against other people, or conquering territory, rather than about custodianship and connection. In Personal Score you make clear how Western ideas about sport – especially disassociation from its physical place – are deeply linked to the climate crisis and climate denial. You talk about the harsh conditions of The Australian Open, where tennis players were collapsing from the heat. Or the bizarre idea of holding the 2022 Men’s Football World Cup in Qatar, where you then have to air condition everything because it’s effectively in the desert. 

EvN: Yeah, it’s so artificial – and so far removed from being connected to place. Traditional sports were part of learning about, and provided experiences of, respecting and looking after Country. And of course, it’s so pertinent to think about those questions because of the climate crisis we’re experiencing. A lot of things that we enjoy, particularly as Indigenous people, are being threatened. The footsteps and the trackmarks of playing those games – maybe all that’s going to be stopped because of the climate crisis, what we’re already going through. 

How to Play Sport on Indigenous Land 

1. Acknowledge Country 

Always was, always will be Aboriginal land is attributed to Uncle Jim Bates’s explanation, in the 1980s, of his unbroken connection to his Barkandji Country. 
This football field, sporting ground, park, swimming pool, beach, gym – anywhere we play, train and exercise – is on unceded Indigenous land… 

RMD: The book returns a few times to the fact that many ovals and sporting grounds in use today had already been cleared by First Nations people for ceremony before colonisation. Colonial Australia inserted sport’s ‘sacredness’ into places that were already sacred, claiming them while also trying to erase that history. I was wondering – what do you think sport’s ‘sacredness’ in modern Australia really means? 

EvN: Whose sacred are we talking about? Most of my research on those sites took place in southeast Queensland, but I would say it’s pretty indicative of the rest of the continent. Those places were already deliberately cleared for mob to have ceremony – really sacred, very old traditions of storytelling and community-building and sport and play. And then those same places were conveniently chosen to be some of the early colonial sporting grounds. And they continue as sport grounds to this day.  

The horror and the pain comes from our mob being taken from those places, and the attempted genocide. It comes from that Country no longer belonging with us, but being owned by the council, the government, a sporting club. So it is very generous of me to offer those instructions [at the end of Personal Score] for how to play on Indigenous land when it’s stolen land. It’s like: give it back. That’s the first step.  

But, in some ways, even though there’s that pain, there’s also a slight comfort, because I have such fond memories of playing on some of those grounds, and of feeling really connected to those places. I feel the continuation of what’s been done there before. That’s just my view, that I have that slight comfort. But also, of course, I have a real understanding that to really decolonise sport is to say: give the land back. 

Sport has always been seen as this sacred cow. You can’t criticise the way that Australian sport is set up. Even if you play a cricket match on January 26, it’s like no, sport can’t be criticised, it’s apolitical, it’s out of bounds. Which of course is such a false dichotomy – it’s something that’s absolutely used by politicians to sway votes and to try and create this sense of false authenticity or something. To think of some of the sporting traditions that Australia’s attached to – whether it’s the Melbourne Cup or whatever – they are so new, compared to a much older tradition of playing and being on Country. 

RMD: Absolutely. The idea of sport being apolitical seems linked to the ‘sport memoir’ arc we were talking about before. There’s a clean narrative of triumph and transcending any social circumstances. But it’s bestowed, like it’s a generous thing: we’ll give you sport

EvN: Sport has given you so much. Whereas it’s actually like Jeanine Leane’s poem about rugby league, ‘Whitefellas’, which I include in the book: 

…white people are happy to say that rugby league has done a lot for Aboriginal people even though Aboriginal people have done a lot for rugby league. 

What would sport be without our incredible athletes? What would Australian sport be without Cathy Freeman, without Adam Goodes? 

I think we’re addicted to the idea of a really clean narrative. I’m into it as well. I’ll watch those sports documentaries. I’ll love a real archetypal kind of story like that. But that’s exactly what I wanted to push back at with this book. That’s why I deliberately used the word ‘dirty’ in the ‘Pregame’ section of the book and the word ‘ugly’. A few people have taken offence at the word ‘ugly’. They say, ‘It’s not an ugly book, you’re not ugly.’ And I’m like, ‘Thanks, I don’t need to hear that, but thanks.’ [chuckles] It’s not necessarily an ugly book, but there’s an ugliness I try to look at. And there’s definitely a looking at what has been viewed as ‘ugly’ in the past, and a reclaiming of it. 

Whatever that clean narrative in sport is, Personal Score’s the antithesis of that. And I knew that’s where the potential for conflict and tension was. It becomes very difficult, like you said, when that book has to exist in a market and it matters how it’s going to be sold and everything like that. But it was interesting for me to explore, to see what happened with it. 

RMD: It’s interesting you said you like those archetypal stories too. Sometimes it feels as if sport is a place that allows you to hold onto things you don’t hold onto in other forums. For instance: when I play mixed soccer with guys who are really progressive off-field, and then they’re just really macho on the field. 

EvN: You can have an alter ego or something. 

RMD: Yes and I think maybe that explains why some people hold onto sport so fiercely and are so defensive about issues like racism or gender. They want to maintain sport as a sphere that’s separate from the world, and they don’t want their love for that pure thing to be questioned, challenged or disrupted by ‘off-field’ issues. I feel like you’re ‘dirtying’ those distinctions – exploring how you bring your whole self to sport, and that in fact it’s not even a choice. Other people constantly remind you of your race, your gender; whether you belong on the field in their eyes. That’s the real ugliness in Personal Score. The sections about being bullied and the policing of queerness in the soccer team were devastatingly raw.  

But in contrast to that pain, there’s also so much love and joy in the book and it made me think about your idea of ‘nurture writing’ – writing that’s holistic or loving…? 

EvN: Writing that gives, that’s giving, rather than just taking. 

RMD: As a contrast to the more extractive ‘nature writing’? 

EvN: It’s very extractive, yeah. And that’s why I was motivated to write the piece in the book, ‘Tapestries of Poison’. 

Note: As an instance of extractive nature writing, Personal Score points to the hallowed national status of Banjo Paterson’s poem ‘The Man From Snowy River’ and the direct damage its mythicization of brumbies inflicts on Ngarigo and Djiringanj Country. ‘The so-called “horse activists” see the wild horses not as feral pests that destroy native ecosystems but as heroic symbols of national heritage that must be protected above all else. The brumbies represent an idea that settlers thrive on – they believe they are free to do what they wish and do not have to respect the fact they are on Indigenous land. It’s a microcosm of the war against Country going on across this continent.’ 

RMD: To return to something you said before: that generosity of giving the ‘how to’ at the end of the book – what motivated you to do that? 

EvN: I’m not sure. In some ways it was something that just spoke to me, you should do this. I wanted it to be accessible. But I also worried that it was going to be too accessible. I don’t know if that makes sense. Each of those items on that list could be a chapter in itself, but I thought these little anecdotes, wanting to make these points – it just seemed, given where I was at the time, like a good place to finish the book. 

Note: The chapter is titled ‘How to Play Sport on Indigenous Land’ and has 15 short sections, including ‘2: Recognise sovereignty’, ‘8: Tread carefully’ and ‘15: Prioritise health and well-being’. Sentences that use an imperative ‘how to’ style are interwoven with the words of Elders, personal experiences, songs, memories and other writing by First Nations writers. 

RMD: When you say you worry about it being too accessible, do you mean maybe that it could get lifted, decontextualised or something, without being connected to all of what came before it? 

EvN: Yeah. But that’s the nature of putting a book out there into the world. Maybe some sports club will pick it up and be like, ‘OK, we’re going to implement this.’ And then they could do a good job, or they could do a very tick-a-box, window-dressing thing from it. Or they could make real change. But you don’t have control over how people interpret things. Little changes are still good changes, and you don’t have to always expect that things are going to completely change overnight. 

RMD: In choosing a ‘how to’ structure, though, it feels again as if the form messes with how easily it can be consumed. At first glance, it looks simple, but actually it’s not really a listicle. It’s more complex and textured, and you weave different things into it. I can’t really imagine it being on someone’s website. 

EvN: Yeah, true. It’s not going to be a clean thing you can just take. 

RMD: I wondered if you could say a bit more about how you actually built the research, and the conversations that you had. It sounds as if it germinated over a long time. Were you just gathering those conversations you had with people? Or was it more directed? 

EvN: It was a bit of both, I think. The book just took so many different forms, and I was really grateful to receive funding in different stages of writing. That sort of directed how it went as well. The first bit of funding I got for the book was in 2015 from the Australia Council for the Arts and, you know, when you’re writing something, you have to pitch but you don’t actually know what it’s going to look like.  

In 2015 I wrote the first draft. At that stage I was still playing with the idea that it could be fiction. Then I leaned into creative nonfiction. But first I did think it would be really straight non-fiction. I was going to be interviewing a lot of people, and received a Griffith Review reportage fellowship in 2020 and the Peter Blazey Fellowship in 2019, so I framed it as being a very interview-heavy book. And then the pandemic happened and affected a lot of the activity that I had outlined, in terms of travel and going to different tournaments and talking to people. I thought, ‘OK, well I can adapt this to online, but I like talking to people face-to-face in the first instance.’ I like doing field research. At one stage I wrote down all the things I wanted to include in the book, and I came up with a hundred and thought, ‘Yeah, that’s a lot.’ 

RMD: Do you think you included them? 

EvN: I must be super competitive or something! I think I probably did. But I thought they were going to be a whole chapter each and in the end they only made a line or two. It was really, really big for a really long time, and I thought, ‘I don’t know how to do this.’ When I sent it to my publisher, I think she was surprised at how big a book it was – like 90,000 words, maybe pushing 100,000 at one point. I’m not sure what the final word count was. But then I started to think about how I formed my poetry collections. I’m a poetry editor as well. And that’s one of the pleasures I take with an author – laying the book out and seeing which poems land with which other poems, sectioning a poetry collection.  

So I started to see the shape of the work. In some ways it’s quite linear, because it starts when I’m eleven and ends when I’m … well, I’m going to be turning thirty-three this year. It follows the different clubs that I played in. Having those – what did we call them? I don’t know, I can’t remember what we called them – but you know those sections that are in third-person? They take place in a ground that I used to play in, and I wanted to explore the emotional landscape and texture of being in those places. They’re placeholders through which I weave the whole narrative. 

RMD: Structurally, it reminds me of playing soccer, and ending up every Saturday at a different ground. 

EvN: Yeah, absolutely. And thinking, ‘How did I get here, where am I, who am I?’ I was feeling all of that along the way. Whenever I got stuck, I would just lay it all out and see where I was going. Some of the sections were written, as you said, a long time ago. And some of them were really quite fresh, and quite new. 

RMD: Do you think that editing other people’s work helps you do that?  

EvN: I think so, but of course every writer needs an editor, no matter if you have an editorial background or not. I worked with a couple of people. I worked with Jeanine Leane, who was the developmental editor. I worked with Margot Lloyd who was in-house editor at UQP. Both helped a lot.  It’s not something I’d done before, write a non-fiction book. There’s a process: the integrity of writing a non-fiction book, checking sources. There were so many people that I contacted and talked to and I made sure that they were okay with how they were represented and quoted. 

My publisher, Aviva Tuffield, and I connected eight years ago around our love for sport. She has two daughters who play soccer in Victoria. As someone from a sports-mad family and as someone who loves sport herself, she completely understood what it was going to be, right off the bat. I got a lot of comfort from the knowledge that she was supportive of what the book was going to be – that it wasn’t necessarily going to fit the parameters of what people might expect. Having these people by my side was really good. 

But at the same time, it was difficult. It was probably around this time last year that I was wrangling it together – I’m getting flashbacks because of the weather and the time of year. What I remember being really great was the support. The last draft was written when I was the University of Queensland’s inaugural First Nations Writer-in-Residence. I had my own office at UQ, and that was good, because otherwise I was just working in my bedroom or in libraries or cafes. So I was able to spread out a little bit. And I had a big stack of books that inspired me. Sometimes when I got stuck, I would look at those books and think, ‘Well, these books give me permission to do what I wanted to do and to do something unconventional. These books were able to be their own form.’  

Note: Some of the books in van Neerven’s inspirational book stack were: Akwaeke Emezi’s Dear Senthuran: A Black Spirit Memoir, Billy-Ray Belcourt A History of My Brief Body, Alexander Chee’s How to Write An Autobiographical Novel,  Robin Wall Kimmerers Braiding Sweetgrass and Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts.  

RMD: Personal Score comes across as a very confident piece of writing, but I did have the sense that there were a lot of people behind this, helping it happen. Because the rich, relational work you’ve created is hard for one person to do alone. It felt as if you had people who must have understood. 

EvN: I was my own biggest critic. I was tearing my hair out. But I’m glad I really had people behind me. 

RMD: You said before that you could have spent eight more years on it. But there’s also the pragmatism of just calling it, right? Towards the end of the book, you write:

Don’t discount personal experience. We’ve been taught to be humble, but we need to tell our stories, no matter how minor we think they are. It’s not vain to centre ourselves in our stories along with what we love – it’s necessary.  

It seems as if you’re pointing out how the temptation to endlessly critique can obscure the fact that you’re also doing something for the community by putting this book out. Self-critique can often stop us from contributing, make us forget that it means something to other people.  

EvN: It’s very difficult because, at the same time, to write a book of this length is to lock yourself away for a period of time and hold the amount of headspace that you need. I kept thinking that I was doing a PhD or something like that – you’re holding this space. Sometimes I would get home and I just wouldn’t be able to keep up a conversation with anyone because I was too much in book-land. I can feel very fraught about that because I’m not being present for the people around me. In some ways, having the office professionalised the process. But in other ways, I just felt this constant tension between doing something that’s community-focused and relational, but also having to put myself alone in a room and potentially not go out to social events or do social things. It brought a lot of stuff up for me. 

RMD: Do you feel differently now that it’s over? It seems to me that there are so many voices in that book, not just yours. Does it feel less solitary now? 

EvN: Yeah, I think it definitely does. I think it was great to give light to those voices and those people. We had a really beautiful Brisbane launch, too; it was well-orchestrated, I think. I did something that was unexpected, because usually books are launched by one person, but I got two of my friends: Grace Lucas-Pennington and Laura Elvery to launch it. It was a very joyful occasion. My parents were there too. And I had to sort of translate to them, ‘You know those two years when I just locked myself away in a room, and I couldn’t talk to anyone about anything? Well, this is what it was for.’ So it becomes very tense and tight and fraught at the time, but then you realise it was just a moment. And at the end of the day, it did bring the light in.