Good Reading : October 2015
GOOD READING OCTOBER 2015 33 COVER STORY David with Goliath’s head, the Vatican Museums book you’re capable of writing – you can’t say Oh, I have to be more literary now – I have A Prize.You do the best you can; nothing more is possible.’ Although Geraldine has achieved great success with her non-fiction work – Nine Parts of Desire, Foreign Correspondence, and the published version of her Boyer Lectures, called The Idea of Home – her day-to-day business these days is almost all fiction. ‘Non-fiction imposes different demands,’ she explains. ‘You have to follow the story as far as it leads, as long as it takes.You are at the beck and call of the truth. Fiction allows more flexibility, and that’s why it’s a good match for parenting. ‘I still have my younger son in school, so I’m not presently interested in doing what I did before: going on long, open-ended assignments to often rather dangerous places. I write pretty much during the school day, mostly in my study looking out on the alpacas or, if it’s a gorgeous day, outside under an ancient apple tree or, if it’s freezing and I have the house to myself, in the kitchen by the fireplace. ‘If I need to go on a research trip, I either take the kids along as assistants, or do it at a time when my partner Tony can hold the fort.’ As an expat Australian living in the US, Geraldine tries to get home to Australia every year, but the school schedule can make this difficult. ‘The long vacation here is in the summer, and the winter break – the great time to be in Sydney – is pathetically short. I’m looking forward to my youngest going to college so we’ll be able to go back to doing what we used to do – dividing our time equally between here and there.’ Geraldine welcomes the opportunity to be in Australia to promote The Secret Chord in November, when she says she will be ‘inescapable’, visiting Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Hobart, Canberra and Melbourne. In the meantime, she’ll continue working on the early stages of her next novel, which she enticingly descr ibes as a ‘braided narrative set in three time per iods, involving a great horse and a missing work of art’. The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks is published by Hachette, rrp $39.99.