Q. Where where you born and where did you grow up?

A. I was born in Cooma, in rural New South Wales and then lived for a period on Norfolk Island. My family then moved to Sydney and we lived in the Sutherland Shire. My father was involved with the community in Redfern so I spent a lot of my time there.

Q. Who are your influences?

A. Both my mother and my father had a strong influence on me. They always encouraged me and my mother taught me to read and write from a very young age. Both my parents didn’t get the education they wanted and so it was important to them that I went to university. But both my mother and father were readers and always learning. I was very influenced by the people I heard speak when I was growing up in Redfern – Chicka Dixon, Gary Foley, Roberta Sykes – and I continue to feel very supported by members of the community there.

In my writing, I have always been influenced by the classics. I loved Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters when I was growing up. I was influenced by the politics and story telling of Charles Dickens and George Orwell. And I have always been very influenced by the writing of other women of colour – Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, Alexis Wright. I also very much admire the work of Tony Birch.

Q. What are you proudest of?

A. I was very proud when I published my first book. There is a lot of yourself that you put into your writing and to put it into the public is a brave thing. I was proud to graduate from Harvard. I am very proud of my contribution to Bangarra Dance Theatre when I was on the board and of my role in helping establish NITV when I was the inaugural chair.

Q. How do you do so much?

A. People often marvel about how I do so much but I am really lucky that I have so many things in my life that I am really passionate about. I am very slow to do things I don’t enjoy and try to fill my time with the things that I find rewarding. Over time I have gotten better at finding a balance and I spend more time with my family and friends. I also make sure I get plenty of sleep so I have lots of energy during my waking hours.

Q. What do you like best – writing, law or film making?

A. I see all three of these things as interconnected. They are ways of working on developing a better understanding about Aboriginal culture, history and experience and on raising awareness about issues of social justice facing the community. I find that they compliment each other and if I am creatively working in one area it will flow into the other areas of my life.

Q. What are you working on next?

A. I have been working on my next novel, working on my next non-fiction book and I have a few film projects in production. I am very excited about all of these projects.