Smokestack Lightnin’

April 18, 2014 at 1:12 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

When an editor accepts a story for publication, they ask for a short bio and more and more frequently these days, a publicity photo to go with it. I’m fortunate enough to have many photographer friends generous with their time and talent, who know how to help me relax in front of a camera (we’ve found that whiskey, Nick Cave and teasing tend to work best).

Steph Tout Photography

Steph Tout Photography


Helen Isabella Photography

Helen Isabella Photography

Photography by  Adrian Carmody

Photography by Adrian Carmody

Matt Burke Photography

Matt Burke Photography

The bio is another matter, with this being my current version:

Rijn Collins is an Australian writer with a fondness for red notebooks, black coffee and stories about circus folk. She’s had more than fifty short stories published in anthologies and literary journals, performed at festivals in Melbourne and Chicago,and broadcast on Australian and American radio. She’s currently working on a novel, and trying not to include Elvis in it: so far, so good. More of her work can be found at

I meant it about Elvis: he finds his way into many of my stories. I’m not the kind of writer who can sing along to music as they work, as I get so involved that I forget about the page. I listen to mostly blues, and the melancholy magic of those big, big voices spellbinds me, every time.

My inky news involves quite a lot of music this month. I’m pleased to have my work included in Grace Notes, an exhibition celebrating music that’s on at the Yarra Hotel in Melbourne until May. I wrote nine short mixed tape vignettes…here’s a little taster.

2008 – ‘Stagger Lee’ – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

You watch this one sleep. You reach past the whiskey glasses on the bedside table and place one finger on the dial, wanting him to wake up. The slow, hypnotic waves of music wash over the room. The pillows have fallen to the floor and your throat is sore from arguing and he’s burst the zip on your jeans. As his chest rises and falls you can’t imagine ever wanting anything more than right now, right here. He doesn’t wake. Your song together holds so much darkness you don’t stand a chance.

I’ll also be performing at the Williamstown Literary Festival next month as part of Stereo Stories, a fabulous website that publishes tales of how and why songs resonate for people. My story involves being chased by a hurricane into Jackson, Mississippi, singing the Johnny Cash song as the Amtrak train pulled me out of New Orleans.

Thirdly, I’ve just had a story published in SmokeLong Quarterly, one of my absolute favourite literary journals. And the music link? Curled up in Rachmaninov’s old apartment in St Petersburg, counting my rib bones in Russian. Click on Leith O’Malley’s wonderful artwork to read ‘True, False and Floating.’

Artwork by Leith O'Malley

Artwork by Leith O’Malley


Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s a thunderous afternoon and I feel the need for some Howlin’ Wolf…a perfect match, no?


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