Ambelin Kwaymullina

Ambelin Kwaymullina is an Aboriginal academic who comes from the Palyku people of the Pilbara region of Western Australia. She is an Assistant Professor at the Law School and teaches across a number of areas including Administrative Law and Indigenous Peoples in the Law. She researches in the areas of public law, Indigenous research methodologies, Indigenous knowledges and creative expressions, and Indigenous legal systems. Before coming to the University Ambelin worked for over seven years in government and politics. In addition to her work at the University, Ambelin is an award winning creative writer and illustrator.


***How did you get started writing?

I can’t remember a time when I wasn't writing, which means I can’t remember how I started. If there was ever a time when I didn’t have stories it must have been lonely, and really boring. What do people do when they’re waiting for the bus…or going up an escalator…or waiting a queue, if they’re not writing stories in their heads?

***Who influenced you? 

My Mum, who is also a writer, and who always believed I could be too.

***Do you have a favorite book/subject/character/setting?

My character Ashala Wolf, because she’s like me but better – braver, smarter, and physically coordinated…whereas I cannot catch. Not anything. Not ever. Not keys, not pens, and not pieces of fruit. People have thrown all these things to me at various points of my life. They usually sail right past my hands and hit me in the head. Or they sail right past me altogether, and hit someone else in the head.

No one throws things to me anymore.

***What advice do you have for someone who wants to be an author?

It isn’t easy. Not much worth having is.  So don’t expect easy – but if you love it, stick with it, and let no one take it from you.

***Where is your favorite place to write? 

Anywhere. I have a full time job, plus lots of other commitments, so I write whenever and wherever I can. I write on airplanes, in buses and taxis, while waiting in line and sitting in cafes. I write on my computer, on napkins, on random scraps of paper, and if all else fails, on the back of my hand.

That last one isn’t such a good idea. Firstly there’s only so many words you can fit on the back on your hand, and secondly, ink smudges. Words are lost forever, and clothes are ruined.

***What else would you like to tell us?


Read the books written by, and about, people like you, and more importantly, read the books written by and about people who are nothing like you. Read about different races and cultures. Not because it’s educational, and not because it will do someone else some good (although neither of these are bad reasons for doing something). Do it because it will make you smarter - anything that expands your horizons does. Do it because it will show you a familiar earth through an unfamiliar gaze, and in so doing, change your understanding of what is and what could be. Do it for the magic of being able to turn a page and step into another world.





Ambelin Kwaymullina