Great ideas sneak up on you when you least expect it.
In 2008, Rebecca Starford, then deputy editor of Australian Book Review, and Hannah Kent, PhD candidate, writer and woman-about-town, decided to go to a Melbourne café after a long day at the office. It was here, over mediocre lattés, that Rebecca casually mentioned she’d like to one day start a journal.
‘A literary journal,’ she explained, as Hannah grimaced over her coffee. ‘But something different. Something edgy.’
Hannah watched her, grinning. ‘Really? Are you serious?’ she asked.
‘Deadly,’ replied Rebecca.
After a moment’s consideration, Hannah confessed – blushing – that she had in fact made and distributed her own newspaper as a twelve-year-old, laboriously writing, cutting and gluing it by hand before getting her mum to photocopy it for her at work.
‘So, you can see, it’s also been an ambition of mine,’ she said.
The girls warily regarded each other for a few seconds. Then, suddenly, pens were whipped out of handbags, notepaper smoothed, and the first ideas for a ‘different’ publication were scribbled down. The fledgling journal would be injected with a healthy dose of humour, and would include fiction, features, reviews and interviews. It would be there to promote the best writing around.
Soon after their conversation, Rebecca and Hannah approached Lorraine Harding, Rebecca’s colleague at ABR, and invited her to become involved in the project. Lorraine was so enamored with the ethos of the proposed journal that she immediately offered her services as Business Manager.
Former ABR colleague Jo Case (Rebecca’s predecessor) was then asked over for dinner at Lorraine’s apartment, plied with copious amounts of wine and propositioned: Would she assist as an editorial advisor? The heated conversation that ensued was so thoroughly enjoyable, the possibilities so exciting, that Jo went home having signed on as an associate editor.
The final piece of the puzzle fell into place almost by accident. At a book launch, Jo ran into an old friend and colleague from almost a decade earlier, Anne-Marie Reeves. Anne-Marie spoke of her desire for a creative side-project, and was so enthused by the ideas behind Kill Your Darlings that she agreed to contribute her design and editorial experience; becoming the crucial, fifth member of the team. (Coincidentally, Anne-Marie had also worked at Australian Book Review some years earlier, in the same position as Jo and Rebecca.)
The Kill Your Darlings project has gained a tremendous amount of momentum since that first, fortuitous conversation, thanks to the enthusiasm, support and commitment of those who feel there is a need for a publication like ours: a journal for readers who are serious about excellent literature, but never about themselves.
Our title, Kill Your Darlings, comes from a quote attributed to William Faulkner. As an aphorism both darkly witty and deadly serious, Kill Your Darlings perfectly encapsulates our journal’s vision. Don’t be afraid to speak the truth, be tongue-in-cheek, or give a little lip when it’s deserved. But above all, do what you must to create literature that demands attention. Kill your darlings, if need be.
It can be a tough gig for literary publications out there. Many people have told us we must be mad. We prefer determined – nothing worthwhile was ever done without risk.
So unscrew the cap on the poison bottle, sharpen your knives, and keep an ear out for footsteps.
Kill Your Darlings is coming out to play.