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Penni Russon


Penni Russon writes literary fiction for teenagers. She teaches creative writing at Melbourne University. She has been blogging since 2006 and has recently been involved in a creative partnership with Storybird and a research project with Orygen Youth Mental Health and Headspace.

Where were you born?

I was born in Hobart, Tasmania and grew up in a developing bush suburb, with a lot of freedom to explore. The surrounding bushland, streetscapes and historic artifacts became intrinsically tied to my imaginative life, and as a result I have always had trouble working out where the real world begins and ends.

What other jobs have you had?

I worked in childcare after high school. I worked as a freelance editor before becoming a writer, which I often think of now as an apprenticeship in novels – taking them apart and putting them back together again. I currently have a ‘day job’ writing therapeutic content for websites that help teenagers with depression and psychosis cope with their problems, connect with others and enhance their lives by building up their strengths.

What themes are recurring in your work?

All my novels are, on some level, about the boundaries between what’s real and what’s pretend. I write about identity and what shapes our sense of self. Some recurring imagery includes: birds, the ocean and water, the body, lost things, found things, broken things, the carnivalesque, dark alternate selves and wise young children.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about poetry, the wilderness, freedom, independence, and truth-telling. I love photography, music, conversation, reading and social media. I am really interested in positive psychology and the relationship between mindfulness and creativity.

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