With the Emerging Writers' Festival introducing an online program this year, you don't necessarily have to be in Melbourne to take part (although I do recommend going to live events if at all possible, have been to two so far and have loved two so far).
Though it does help if you're on Twitter (which is easy).
This afternoon, while Dylan slept, I jumped into TwitterFEST to join the discussion "What is an 'Australian' novel?" I'm not sure I have an answer to this (do you?), although if I use their list of suggestions, I'm inclined to think an Australian novel is one written by an Australian.
There were certainly some interesting ideas presented, including whether novels are 'Australian' due to setting, theme/s, style and voice. Not to mention categorisation for awards where a requirement is that the story 'is Australian', but I'm not going there.
At some point the discussion veered towards diversity in voices of 'Australian' writing, and writers and I was asked to comment on my thoughts about same, given I'm reading novels by Aussie women only this year. Now, I'm not sure I'm qualified to say much given I'm only reading about 2 novels a month, and perhaps it has more to do with me trying to read them for pleasure than to pick them apart, but I'd say there is definitely variety in what I've been reading. I think this because I'm sure I'd put the next book down if it sounded or felt too similar to the last or another recent read.
As for short fiction, I feel confident to say there's plenty of diversity.
Though it occurred to me later that this is perhaps a reader's response and part of the reason the question caused so much confusion for me. Especially as compared to when I came to it as a writer.
As a writer, it all seems somewhat pointless as I'm going to write what I'm going to write in the style and voice that I write it in. It's going to be hard enough to score a publishing contract trying to do the very best writing that I can without introducing concepts that might make me think I should be writing according to a certain constraint, whatever that might be.
And despite the various awards scattered around the place, I find it hard to imagine that writers would really write with award criteria in mind.
Though please do let me know if you disagree. And share what your idea of an Australian novel is.