Q&A with ‘The Waterbearer’ author Holly Ford

About to enter her final year in USYD’s Master of Publishing degree, Holly Ford has had a life-long love for all things book-related. You will find her debut short story, ‘The Waterbearer’, in the soon-to-be-published 2023 USYD Anthology.

What is your story about?

Set in a desert where water is scarce, my story is a fable-like narrative that comments on the seemingly never-ending cycles of greed that pervade history and the world. In my story I ask the question, to what extent is greed an inherent part of us and to what extent has it been inherited from the cycles of greed that have preceded us?

Have you always wanted to write? When did you realise you liked writing?

I’ve always been plagued by the curse of the blank page so have done little creative writing since I left school. However, when this story idea popped into my head one night, I just had to get it down on paper. I had forgotten how fun it is to be creative with words and to share the images in my head with others through this written medium.

What book from your childhood has shaped you the most as a person?

This is very cliché, but my love for everything book-related began when I read the Harry Potter series as a ten-year-old. I was that kid who, every lunch break, could be found reading in the library … and I never really left. That first read of Harry Potter ignited a passion for books that has shaped the course my life. I have since completed a Bachelor of Arts majoring in English and am currently in the midst of a Master of Publishing degree at USYD. I am endlessly grateful to ten-year-old Holly for persevering through the tiny font and (seemingly) endless number of pages in The Philosopher’s Stone so that I could become who I am today. I know that sounded very cringe, sorry …

What is your favourite prologue or epilogue from literature or film?

I am a big fan of the twist ending,­ and one of my favourite plot twists in literature occurs in The Prestige (I know there’s a book, but I’ve only seen the film). I won’t spoil the twist, but I will tell you that it makes you want to go back and re-watch the whole film in a new light. While the twist in ‘The Waterbearer’ is nowhere near as ground-shaking as the twist at the end of The Prestige, I really enjoyed setting up the story for that unexpected ending.