JMP Winner (2005): Ruby J. Murray 3 Comments

JMP Winner (2005): Ruby J. Murray

This week Express Media interviewed writer Ruby J. Murray, whose short story won The John Marsden Prize in 2005. Here’s what she had to say:

What did winning the John Marsden Prize mean to you as a young writer?

It was great. I was working as a Santa Elf at Myer at the time, and studying existentialism. I needed a boost.

No, it gave me faith straight up, and you need a lot of faith starting out. Rejection is the rule, and it can take a while to get used to. The John Marsden was very important. I didn’t think I would ever be a ‘writer’ at the time, and it still took years afterwards for me to consider it seriously. But it opened a door in my mind.

What have you done (in writing and beyond) since winning the prize?

I was studying political science when I won the John Marsden, and wanted to go into working in gender and environmental politics. I finished uni, worked, and went on to an AYAD placement to work in development in Jakarta, Indonesia, which is where Running Dogs is set. It was while I was living and working in Jakarta, with no time at all to write, that I began to realise how important stories really are.

Some writers work business hours, and others carry a notebook with them everywhere. What’s your ‘writing process’?

I think writing involves trying to understand what it’s like to be in the world. I try to write every day. But I want to lead a life that takes me out into the world, too, so I know how to write about it.

I think one of the most challenging things about writing is learning to be protective of your time. But it’s also realising that the best ideas come to you when you’re away from the desk. My ‘writing time’ often looks eerily like ‘walking’ or ‘cooking.’ Or ‘staring at the wall.’

What are your future writing goals?

To be better at it. It’s hard, and it should be hard. Stories — how we choose to tell them, and what we tell them about – define the perimeters of the possible.

What advice could you offer other aspiring young writers?

The world is full of words and white noise. Try to deserve a stranger’s time. And also: doubt everything. Not enough to stop, just enough to wonder.

Ruby J. Murray’s debut novel,  Running Dogs, was published earlier this year. She also writes for a range of publications.


  • Broede

    Great review Ruby!

  • Kirsty Murray

    I love your advice to young writers. It is very good for old writers too. Sometimes the white noise is so overwhelming you can lose your balance and your sense of gravity. Thanks for the reminder.

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