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Anna Krien is an award-winning Melbourne-based journalist, essayist, fiction writer and poet. Her book Night Games: Sex, Power & Sport, won the 2014 William Hill Sports Book of the Year in the UK, and is being developed into a television mini-series. Other publications include Into the Woods: The Battle for Tasmania’s Forests, Booze Territory, Quarterly Essay 66: The Long Goodbye: Coal, Coral and Australia’s Climate Deadlock and Quarterly Essay 45 Us and Them: On the Importance of Animals.
Anna’s debut novel Act of Grace was published in October 2019 and shortlisted for the 2019 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards.
I was born in Melbourne and grew up in St Kilda with my mum and dad (both originally journalists) and two older brothers. We shared our street with an asylum and our childhood is dotted with stories, both funny and sad, from our interactions with the residents. The asylum has since been turned into fancy apartments. Wouldn’t it be great if their walls talked?
I used to waitress at the Waiters restaurant – an Italian bistro down an alley and up a dark stairwell in the city, which is perhaps most famous for being held hostage in 1978 on a busy Thursday night. It took the hostage taker’s mother to storm down the alley in her dressing gown to convince the man to put down his shotgun and call it a night. I have also worked as a bartender & cloakroom attendee in a nightclub, a factory hand at a fertiliser & weed killer factory, a shoe lacer in a shoe factory, in a forest restoration crew, a bookseller, video store person, tutor, telemarketer, newspaper reporter, and hospital document shredder.
It’s not so much a career highlight than a career kick-off but it remains one of my most cherished writing periods. I was 21 and was published for the first time in an Under 25’s magazine called Voiceworks and was asked to join their editorial committee. Prior to this I’d been holding out a naïve and lonely hope that I was a writer, so Voiceworks was a sort of homecoming for me. I found my people. To this day, I am close with the writers, editors, artists, poets, comic nerds and graphic designers I met during this time.
So many places! To blockades deep in the forest, cow abattoirs in Indonesia, night patrols in Central Australia, taste laboratories, artist studios in tin sheds, brothels, playing with orphan baby wombats, and a maximum-security women’s prison to name a few.
I’ve written for various news publications and magazines, both national and international – covering stories wide-ranging as specially equipped rooms in brothels for disabled clients to the food scientists that create flavours in their laboratories. My debut book Into the Woods came out in 2010. I’d spent time with activists on forest blockades, in loggers’ pubs and having cuppas with pollies to investigate Tasmania’s drawn out forest battles that had largely paralysed the island state’s politics for two decades.
I’ve a deep interest in environmental conflicts which has seen me report on the Great Barrier Reef as well as explore our relationships with non-human animals in two Quarterly Essay while my book Night Games followed the rape trial of a footballer and explored issues of power and gender in sport. I’ve also had several short stories and poems published.
Publications include The Saturday Paper, The Big Issue, The Monthly, Griffith Review, Fairfax & Newscorp publications, Dazed & Confused, Frankie, ABC The Drum, ABC The Drum, SBS Online, Best Australian Essays, Best Australian Stories, Best Australian Poems.
I’ve never had to buy a pen in my life and yet I have hundreds. There, I said it. I’m a pen thief.