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Tamar Valley Storytellers: Lyndon Riggall

Updated: Feb 22

Lyndon Riggall is a writer and secondary English teacher from Launceston, whose passion for words goes as far back as being a volunteer book reviewer at The Examiner at the age of twelve. In 2013, Lyndon won the global Hot Key Books’ Young Writers’ Prize for his manuscript Charlie in the Dark, while his premiere theatre script for Launceston’s Mudlark Theatre Company, ULG, played to sold out audiences at the 2017 Junction Arts Festival. Lyndon has been a judge for the Children’s Book Council of Tasmania, a writer in residence at local Tasmanian schools, and has received national recognition for his screenwriting and poetry. His first picture book for children, Becoming Ellie (created in collaboration with artist Graeme Whittle), was released in 2019. Lyndon can be found by following @lyndonriggall on Twitter and Instagram, or at his website:

1. What are you working on?

As always I have a few projects on the go, and I love bouncing between them depending on my mood on a particular day or which idea might be firing. At the moment, the files that I might open on any particular morning include a picture book project, a children’s novel set on the Overland Track and a slightly overwhelming Tasmanian gothic horror novel that is now sitting at 100,000 words long and shows no signs of stopping!

2. How does the Tamar Valley influence your writing? The Tamar Valley will always be home for me, and I think that more than anything else it is a place of peace and space, and those two things are a wonderful breeding ground for a writer. I love travelling to the mainland and soaking up that big city energy and hustle for a few days, but when I come home I am usually exhausted. Somewhere by the banks of the river is where the real work gets done.

3. What themes are you exploring? Almost everything I write has the ultimate goal of helping us understand ourselves and each other better. I like to write about characters who have a single-mindedness to them and who refuse to acknowledge that something is missing from their lives until the story’s conclusion. My first picture book created with my friend Graeme Whittle, Becoming Ellie, is a great and simple example of this: Ellie the greyhound is so focused on being the best runner that she can be that she neglects her basic needs for comfort, rest and a sense of individual identity. When an accident causes her dreams of racing to fall apart, she has to completely reinvent her understanding of who she is from scratch, and that journey is frightening for her, but it is also what life is. The worst thing that we can do is stop growing.

4. Describe for us where you like to write. Writing is the first thing I do to start my day at 6am, usually with one foot still in my dreams. Nevertheless, squeezing some creative expression in before the chaos of school and teaching steals the day away from me is the best way for me to get things done, and once I’ve ticked off my writing I can call the day a win. I have a small desk just near the kitchen (and the kettle!) with a second keyboard, and my laptop up on a small shelf to put the screen properly in my eyeline. It’s basic, but I haven’t seen any evidence yet to suggest that a bigger, better desk would make me write any more often or better. Of course it’s the middle of winter at the moment, and cold, so I must confess that this morning I have snatched my computer off its stand and gone back to bed!

5. Finish this sentence, "I want my writing to..." I want my writing to reignite the reader’s passion for words. I often think about my life and values, and it seems to me that my mission is about sharing the power of stories; not just because developing literacy on this island is so important, but also because all of us have increasingly aggressive demands on our time, and so many people are missing out on those moments where we get so invested in a narrative that we forget where we are, or even that we are reading. My great fear is that these kinds of experiences will eventually slip from rarity to near-impossibility if we don’t find a way to turn it around.

6. What's your favourite read so far this year?

There are two books released this year that every Tasmanian should read: Adam Thompson’s Born Into This and Richard Flanagan’s Toxic: The Rotting Underbelly of the Tasmanian Salmon Industry. While Thompson’s work is fictional and Flanagan’s non-fiction, both of them are wake-up calls for the way that we treat the environment around us and each other, and they contribute key arguments to conversations that have been continually pushed aside on this island and need facing. On an international level, for just a great page-turning novel with a fantasy twist you can’t go past The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab. The ending made me gasp!


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