Foto: Tristan Touchell
I am really glad you’ve accepted my interview. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions.
Can you tell us a bit more about how you became a writer?
I became a writer by writing, but the commitment to this strange and solitary act began with a love of story. As a child I felt particularly out of control of my own life and body – there was a palpable lonliness that I can still remember to this day. That sense of isolation, or disconnect with the world, was alleviated when I discovered stories. Books bound wounds for me. They were escape routes. It’s a short hike from loving stories around you to creating your own and I started telling myself stories at a young age. This led to writing them down. It’s not always a happy pursuit but it is always a satisfying one.
Was it difficult for the first book to find a publisher?
Surpisingly, no. But it was an interesting journey. Creepy & Maud first had a home with a publisher who developed cold feet over pubic hair. I’m serious. I had the contract in my hand when they began to make bizarre demands about my use of the word pubes, specifically that I could not use the word pubes on the first page of a book for young people. I countered that I have a right to have pubes wherever I want them. I never signed that contract, too concerned about the restrictive parameters this publisher operated within. If they were this distressed about the word pubes, how would they respond when they got to the word fuck? About two years later I threw the manuscript into a post bag and mailed it, unsolicited, to Fremantle Press. They pulled it out of the slush pile.
Could you describe literature in three words?
Umm…no. Thomas Gray said Poetry is thoughts that breathe, and words that burn. I like this statement a lot. Literature, random words chosen specifically and placed perfectly, is a living thing. It moves and grows and changes under the introspection of every individual reader. I can’t give you three words for that. I also don’t follow direction very well…
Is there a book you would never read? Why?
The Secret, Rhonda Byrne. I am immediately suspicious of, and irritated by, anyone who purports to have an answer. Not only do I not believe them, I have the urge to slap them. Self-serving, gratuitous, exploitative crap.
What’s your favorite book?
Just one? Impossible. Let’s see…Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. No, The Getting of Wisdom by Henry Handel Richardson. But then, We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. Wait…Possession by A.S. Byatt. Now I feel like I’m cheating on people like Wilkie Collins and John Wyndham. I told you I can’t follow direction…
“She may be going to Hell, of course, but at least she isn’t standing still”
– e.e. cummings
EBooks or paper print?
Paper. I like the smell and the feel. And I can never find the charger for my e-reader.
What inspires you?
I’m not really a fan of words like inspiration and motivation. There’s a weight of expectation and judgment attached to them if you are a creative person. Most of the time you just have to sit down and do the job feeling spectacularly uninspired. But there are things that can make me happy about writing, and art, and life. They’re always simple things: my garden, a good hard rain, reading something provocative, listening to something beautiful. I’m actually quite dull.
Imagine you were given the opportunity to meet a book character in real life. Who would that be?
I don’t want to meet these people!
The fictional characters I am most moved by, attracted to, intrigued with and return to again and again, are barking mad. I don’t want these people in my house.
What‘s your worst nightmare?
Besides waking up to find one of my favourite fictional characters inside my house? – Heights. And Self Help books.
The best decision of your life was?
That’s a difficult question. Even some bad decisions have led to positive change. Joe Simpson, in Touching The Void, said: You gotta make decisions. You gotta keep making decisions, even if they’re wrong decisions…if you don’t make decisions, you’re stuffed. I sort of feel like my best decision has been to shut out all the noise and keep making decisions.
I can’t wait to read your next book. Are you currently working on a project? Is there any release date to reveal?
My work in progress is tentatively titled Missing, Presumed. It will be published by Allen & Unwin, Australia, 2019/20.