Where the magic happens for uni student & master criminal Alex Tighe


Okay, so you may have noticed that this post is a little late. That’s because I had to talk to my legal department. This next guest? Trouble. BIG trouble. Lock up your lanyards, that’s all I’ve got to say. 

Well, actually, of course I’ve got more to say – I’ve got a reputation as being longwinded to uphold. I first met Alex Tighe at Coonabarabran High School’s Feast of Words. We were discussing how you might go about addressing the theme of ‘Belonging’ in a work of fiction (as is required of senior high school students in Australia who are doing the English extension). For some reason that segued into a conversation about the professional nodders who stand behind politicians whenever they front the media, and we ended up deciding that belonging could be movingly examined in a story involving a professional nodder with a twitch.

All right then, you had to be there.

Seriously, though, Alex is a very bright light – one of those people who are already making a difference. I will be speaking with him during SURG FM’s 25-hour Charity Broadcast, which starts on 13 October, a fundraiser for headspace National Youth Mental Health FoundationA worthy cause, especially considering we’re working in a youth related field (by default, if you’re interested in Young Adult fiction, you’re interested in the concerns of young adults).

So, anyway, you’ll see Alex’s name popping up here again soon. In the meantime, where does the magic happen for you, Alex?

I’m an itinerant scribbler – as a university student living away from home, there is no one place where I really get to sit down and do all of my writing. Having said that, roaming between libraries is not a bad thing at all. I entertain this silly little fiction that I’ve been on this two-and-a-half year library-crawl (the nerd equivalent of a pub-crawl); drifting between desks way past any reasonable hour, blind drunk with knowledge…

One library, however, has become something of a home for me. Sure, it’s a gorgeous, quiet library with elegant architecture. But the main reason I’ve adopted it as my writing HQ is because the librarian and I are in cahoots.

Our conspiracy began, as all good conspiracies do, with a conversation about rule breaking. We were joking in hushed breath about using lab coats and clipboards and hard hats to sneak into restricted areas, finding it hard to keep our laughter at hushed levels. The next day, he had on old University of Sydney lanyard waiting on his desk for me.


To be honest, our conspiracy mainly played out with knowing nods and waist-high waves, but the lanyard did give me conditional access to the staff room. The condition was how much confidence I had on any given day. I was right to be cautious; after all, here I was, trying to fool university professors of all people. The dangers of such a knife-edge lifestyle became very apparent one lunchtime; standing at the microwave, I heard the click of the door behind me…

‘Oh hi!’ I flashed a meek grin as I spun around.

‘You must be new, I haven’t seen you before?’

OhGodohGodohGod. ‘I just do a bit of assistant work for the librarian.’

A pause. ‘So you must be a postgrad with us?’

OhGodOhGodOhGodOhGodOhGodOhGodOhGod ‘Ah, no, I’m just a lowly undergrad.’

At that, the woman lost interest and turned to something else in the staffroom, and I made my hasty departure.


Are you someone who has to be in the same bat place at the same bat time, or do you prefer to free range?

Even though I am a modern nomad, that’s not to say that I don’t sometimes seek a bit of consistency – I always like to work near a window, so if the essay I’m writing becomes too prolix (as it is wont to do when I am dissertating on the more abstruse corners of philosophy) then let my thoughts drift out the window for a little bit. After about five minutes I’ll leash my thoughts back in, laugh at how silly my convoluted language sounds and get back to writing comprehensible sentences.

If these walls could talk …

They wouldn’t. Silence in the library.

If, for some unexplained reason, you had to get the hell out of there and you couldn’t go back, what 3 things would you take?

  1. A copy of Catch-22
  1. My University of Sydney lanyard (my all-access master pass)
  1. Mary Poppin’s handbag for all of my other things (is this cheating? Ah, whatever)

What’s the policy on interruptions? Open door policy? Open door policy with cranky look on face? Door locked tight and hands on ears, shouting: ‘Can’t hear you, lah, lah, lah!’?

In the library I’m often startled from my own private oblivion by a friend tapping me on the shoulder. Not that that’s a bad thing at all. It turns out that the best thing about university is not the sandstone or the free WiFi, but the fact that you are surrounded by like-minded people. I like to think of it as a community of scholars. I never resent taking a break with a friend to discuss, oh, I don’t know, the moral depravity of the Murdoch Empire or the ethical implications of cloning yourself. (It’s probably okay.)

What magic is happening there right now?

Is this the plugs section? Good addition, Kirsty, love what you’ve done with the place… I’m currently writing content for a 25-hour marathon charity student radio broadcast in mid-October, to raise money for the mental health foundation. We begin at 1pm on October 13 – check it out, it’s going to be excellent.


Ever use longhand? Or is it all clickety-clack?

Please, Kirsty, I’m 20; I don’t even know what my own handwriting looks like.

Thank you, Alex! Everybody else – no grassing. Please, please check in with Alex again via the 25-hour marathon broadcast. And with even more pleases – think about donating

P.S. Those of you in the publishing world, I heartily vouch for Alex as top intern material, but refuse to act as guarantor for lanyards …