Vampires in the CBD

By Khiara Elliott

Narrelle Harris has been writing horror, crime, fantasy, romance, erotica and non-fiction out of her Swanston St studio for six years.

Her passion for writing has been a part of her for as long as she can remember.

“I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing,” she said.

“Before one of my brothers and I could write, we were telling stories into a cassette deck. So pretty much the moment I knew how to form words, I was writing stories.”

Professional success came later for Ms Harris, with her first book being published when she was 38.

“It took a while for me to get the courage up to send things out. It was harder finding publishers in Australia back then. It was a much smaller market.”

Her first two novels Witch Honour and Witch Faith were published by US company Five Star and were eventually shortlisted for a George Turner Prize.

The Ned Kelly Award and Chronos Award nominee has also lived on Elizabeth St for 14 years.

“When my husband and I first moved in, the city was just building up. I think the residential population was only about seven or eight thousand, and it was basically just eccentric people and students,” she said.

Living and working within the city has certainly inspired Ms Harris when it comes to her writing.

Her vampire novel The Opposite of Life is set all over Melbourne, with a lot of events within the story occurring in the CBD. Her supernatural detective series The Talbot and Burns Mysteries is also set in the City of Melbourne.

“I find Melbourne as a city really nourishing. There’s so many great places to work around town and I find myself using them as a setting in a lot of my stories,” she said.

To those wanting to break into the writing industry, Ms Harris said the most important thing was to write, then write again, then write some more, and then to keep writing.

“I think people get concerned or they fear that if it’s not perfect the first time then that’s it and that they should give up,” she said.

“But I’m pretty sure that even da Vinci started somewhere. You start sketching then you practise and you practise and you practise, and then you add more paint and you practise some more. Then you might screw one up and throw it away before you start another, but you still practise.”

“Writing is exactly the same. The more you write, the more reading you do, the more practise you get.”

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