Good Reading : March 2018
ME MY SHELF I Which books have moved you the most? Being moved is what I look for most in a book, particularly a novel. I love feeling haunted by a story once I’ve finished it. It doesn’t matter how gripping or technically perfect a book is – if I’m not moved, it won’t stay with me. The books that have made it on to my favourites list are all there because they’re particularly moving. Are there any books that have made you laugh out loud? I grew up reading the James Herriot series (a semiautobiographical series following the life of a country vet in Yorkshire through the 1930s onwards). I recently visited where the author had his practice and re-read the books. They still make me laugh out loud. I also read Crazy Busy Guilty by Lauren Sams earlier this year and giggled the whole way through. Your most recent adult book, Ache, charted the emotional aftermath of a devastating bushfire across four generations of people. Which books that involve bushfires were influential in the writing of Ache? There really aren’t that many novels out there that explore bushfires, and of the ones that do, it’s generally not the central focus. I read a huge amount of non-fiction and every article and government recommendation I could get my hands on. Mostly, Ache was influenced by the stories I heard from my friends and family about fires when I was growing up. P is for Pearl is your first YA novel. What YA books or authors inspired you, and how did you find the transition between writing for adults and young adults? I have been inspired – over many years – by Melina Marchetta, Jandy Nelson, John Marsden, You wrote this story when you were 16 – since then, how has the story evolved and developed? There was no real romance in the earlier drafts – Ben was just a friend. I think I grew up a GOOD READING MARCH 2018 13 Isobelle Carmody, Robin Klein and Eva Martyn. It’s a bit of a strange backwards thing, really. I actually wrote P is for Pearl before my adult books, but didn’t think it was good enough and left it in a drawer for 10 years. The transition has been surprisingly easy – I’m working with a new publishing team (who are amazing), but in terms of the manuscript itself, P is for Pearl is every bit as complex as my adult books. Which novels appealed to you when you were a teenager? I was a die-hard ‘Harry Potter’ fan when I was a teenager (still am, to be honest). I also really loved everything by Robin Klein, Melina Marchetta, Isobelle Carmody and John Marsden. How did a helicopter and a missile kick off the idea for P is for Pearl? Ha! It’s such a strange, meandering way to start a story. There was a news report with video footage of a missile just missing a helicopter. And I somehow got onto this tangent of a pregnant woman being morning sick and causing the helicopter to swerve (as you do). And then I started thinking, what would it be like for that baby? Growing up with that sort of expectation? It’s funny because, although it’s completely removed from how the story actually ended up, the main character really does struggle with the expectations of her deceased mother.