An expedition through Australia's legal system
23 December 2018
Brisbane-based writer Bri Lee’s memoir Eggshell Skull is her story through the Australian legal system, as a policeman’s daughter, law student, judge’s associate and complainant. Eggshell Skull is a fierce memoir, and its haunting appraisal of modern Australia illustrates how ‘justice’ looks very different — depending on who you are and where you’re from.
It was a sweltering January in Brisbane, and day one of my new job as a judge’s associate at the Queensland District Court. I had finished law school at the end of 2014 and returned to my home state in the new year after two months of travelling around the United States, eating hotdogs and drinking Budweiser. New stretch marks at my hips were itchy from my fast increase in weight over the holidays. Sweat was soaking into the underarms of the shirt I’d ironed that morning. Things were off to a bad, and late, start. I took a deep breath and knocked on Judge’s door. He looked up and gave me a big smile. He invited me to take a seat and I remembered how nervous I’d been a year earlier, sitting in the same chair for the job interview. But as we chatted I also remembered how much we’d laughed together, how much I admired his lack of pretension.
Bri is the founding editor of Hot Chicks With Big Brains, and her work has been published in The Guardian, Griffith Review, Broadly, i-D and VAULT Magazine. She also appears on ABC Radio and often gives talks on writing, law, feminism, fashion, pop culture and art. In 2017 Bri was one of Griffith Review‘s Queensland writing fellows. In 2018 she received a Commonwealth Government of Australia scholarship to work on her second book at the University of Queensland.
She was also the inaugural Kat Muscat Fellow (in 2016). The Kat Muscat Fellowship honours writer and editor Kat Muscat (1990–2015). A stone-cold scallywag, Kat was a formidable writing talent who taught all those she touched how to love with kindness and empathy. Her writing embodied Defiance, Feminism and Empathy. The Muscat Family and Kat’s former employer: Express Media, publishers of Voiceworks magazine (Australia’s pre-eminent youth-focussed literary journal), established the Fellowship to support young Australian female-identifying and non-binary writers and editors.
Kat Muscat edited Voiceworks magazine (2012–2013) at the ripe old age of 21; volunteered with the magazine for years before becoming editor; and was involved in the Emerging Writers’ Festival, the National Young Writers’ Festival and TINA. She also blogged and wrote for the likes of The Lifted Brow, Junkee, Lip Magazine, Scum, Pitch Bitch, Stilts, Feminartsy, Kill Your Darlings and Seizure Online.
Eggshell Skull is Bri’s first book (the first of many) and it’s fitting that it was the first project supported by The Fellowship, because Eggshell Skull embodies everything Kat, The Fellowship, Express Media and Voiceworks stands for. It launches at Avid Reader on Wednesday May 23, 2018, and is published by Allen and Unwin. You can read an excerpt of Eggshell Skull in the Good Weekend and read more about Bri on hercanberra.
If you feel like you need to speak with someone at any time about anything:
Lifeline: free confidential 24-hour support on 13 11 14; nightly online crisis support chat — lifeline.org.au
Grief line: free confidential phone service 12pm to 3am seven days on 1300 845-745 (National – Landline Only); online counselling service — griefline.org.au
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