NT Writers' Centre presents Tisha Tejaya
IT GOES WITHOUT saying Top Enders love the delicious produce at Darwin markets. But how well do you know the weird and wonderful goods on sale? Can you tell your moringa from your mangosteen? For those of us who can’t, artist, lawyer and emerging writer Tisha Tejaya has created a pocket-sized gem that combines gorgeous drawings with stories from her family and handy tips. NT Writers’ Centre caught up with her for a chat.
What was the inspiration behind Parap & Rapid Creek Market Pocketbook?
The Pocketbook is largely inspired by my Auntie Hong’s incredible knowledge of plants, and by recipes from my culinary-gifted family and friends. As a side note, you might find some similarities in its layout with field guides – I really got into bird watching last year!
Where can we get our hands on a copy?
The Pocketbook is available at Parap Fine Foods and Greenies. If you’d like a copy mailed to you, you can visit our website – we ship nationally through Australia Post.
What are your top three ingredients you can’t do without and why?
Nothing beats the taste of tender, young snake beans, which, as well as being healthy, are super versatile. I buy a whole kilo of ginger when it’s cheap, peel it, then freeze it. I also can’t get enough of darkly rich liquid gold Bees Creek honey – I use it instead of sugar whenever a dish needs a bit of a sweetener.
Last year you received a Varuna Fellowship for your writing. Congratulations! Can you tell us a bit more about other literary projects you’ve got on the go?
When researching for the Pocketbook, I was told a bunch of moving, sometimes hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking stories about life in the wild Territory as seen through the eyes of Southeast Asian migrants and refugees. Prior to this, I hadn’t seriously considered ever writing a proper book. But these are important stories that need to be heard, and I am determined to give them a voice in the form of a literary novel that questions what it really means to be Australian.
If we were to take a peek at your bookshelf, what kinds of books would we find there?
A random selection of books on my shelf are Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, Superfreakonomics by Steven Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner, Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie, and The Road by Cormac McCarthy. But the books I find myself coming back to the most are The Slater Field Guide to Australian Birds by the Slaters and A Guide to Wildlife and Protected Areas of the Top End by Lindley McKay.
Any Territory authors you’re enjoying at the moment?
Mary Anne Butler. I’m still recovering from her biting, visceral play Broken in the best way possible – I was mind blown experiencing it! The balm? Probably Dean Mildren’s dry wit in Big Boss Fella All Same Judge.