Susan Midalia is a gifted architectural engineer of the short story, building structures of daily life, crafted with care and measured expertise, reflecting the minutiae which make people individuals with common bonds.
Based upon foundations of impeccable integrity, her creations, born of everyday existence, are anything but mundane.
"I am particularly interested in character, thoughts and feelings - the conversation people have in their own heads," she says.
Her stories are full of perspicaciously observed details which make the observer pause, admire and irresistibly revisit. Her genius is forming bridges between ordinary people - capturing a moment in time, a window opened to share the brief glimpse of an event or experience, "the psychological and moral complexity" of life.
Midalia understands "the secret lives we all have within us . . . perhaps wish to share".
Her latest collection - An Unknown Sky and Other Stories - comprises a volume of 17 short stories, perfectly encapsulated and compact. These tales make ordinary lives remarkable, Midalia having the capacity to make an event out of ordinariness.
Describing herself as middle class and middle-aged, she has the empathy to "imagine what it is like to be someone else . . . an outsider".
Midalia's stories involve diverse characters encountered in every walk of life.
In Sacred, a young boy can't tell his mother he was fighting because of his anguish over a cruel taunt about her. Crows and Backward Facing Curls speak of old friendships renewed. There are stories set in Moscow and Vienna, though most reflect her deeply entrenched roots in WA, with emotionally articulate characters embodying Australian points of view.
"Short stories are like poems, which work through compression. The challenge of a short story is to suggest so much in relatively few words - often about what is not said," Midalia reflects.
A graduate of the University and WA and Cambridge University, Midalia's love of language shines throughout her two collections of short stories. Her work resonates with one of her favourite quotations paraphrased from Susan Sontag, that "a writer should love language, agonise over every sentence and pay attention to the world".
The constrained brevity of her chosen art form is a wonderful showcase for Midalia's mastery of the written word, the perfect word in the perfect place to express "the many and glorious possibilities of language".
A gifted teacher, Midalia leads her readers on a path of discovery, subtly prompting them to reason for themselves, never telling them what to think.
Her stories are a source of reflection and enrichment in belonging, the many anguishes, joys and ordinariness that connect rather than differentiate between people.
They touch a chord of recognition and empathy. She speaks of the qualities to which she aspires "the encouragement of understanding, rather than judgment, of other people".
"I am a much better person in my writing," she says with modest humility. Her writing greatly reflects the person she is and the compassion with which she views the world.
Midalia suggests a suitable epitaph for her has been provided by a recent visit to an ATM to withdraw cash: "Amount requested exceeds amount available."
This, in her case, is patently untrue as her books are a treasure-trove of human experience, accompanied by equal certainty that there is a lot more to come from this extremely gifted local writer.
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