Maxine Beneba Clarke, author of Foreign Soil, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

9780733632426The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Maxine Beneba Clarke

author of Foreign Soil

Ten Terrifying Questions
____________

1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I was born and raised in Sydney, schooled in Sydney’s outer West (Kellyville and Baulkham Hills), before going to University on the South Coast (Wollongong). But now my home is in Melbourne’s West. I’m Australian, but of Afro-Caribbean heritage. In many ways, I feel like I’m a global citizen. Africa, England, the Caribbean and South America are all a part of my family’s migration journey.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

When I was twelve I wanted to be white: because almost everyone around me was, difference was frowned upon and I felt my blackness was the bane of my existence. When I was eighteen, I wanted to be right, because I was young and arrogant and ‘invincible,’ and ‘knew better’ than everyone around me. When I was thirty, I wanted to be wise, because by then I had realised that wisdom was the greatest asset you could carry with you in life.

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

That the world would eventually sort itself out. That good would eventually triumph – that there was an intrinsic and innate sense of justice inside every one of us that would gradually lead to some kind of universal understanding about humanity, and about what we owe to each other as human beings. I truly believed that my generation was more in tune, would be smarter, would be more compassionate, would act with both head and heart on issues like climate change, world hunger and asylum seekers. That we were destined to clean up the mess our well-meaning parents seemed to be making around us. How tragically wrong I was.

Maxine Beneba Clarke

Author Maxine Beneba Clarke

4.What work of art – book or painting or piece of music, etc –  had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?

Picasso’s Guernica.

5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a fiction collection?

Short stories are true soul-food. They allow you to capture a reader in a short time, they allow you to tease with possibility. They entice the reader to engage long after the story has finished. Short stories let you start a dialogue and, I believe, have the potential – much more so than longer fiction – to bleed into the life and consciousness of the reader. How does the story end? What’s going to happen to the angry black kid after he throws that Molotov? Does the young red-haired lawyer turn her car around and drive back to the Detention Centre? Will that scared little boy ever return to Mississippi and if he does, what kind of welcome will he find?

6. Please tell us about your latest novel.

In Melbourne’s western suburbs, in a dilapidated block of flats overhanging the rattling Footscray train lines, a young black woman is working on a collection of stories.

The book is called Foreign Soil. Inside its covers, a desperate asylum seeker is pacing the hallways of Sydney’s notorious Villawood detention centre, a seven-year-old Sudanese boy has found solace in a patchwork bike, an enraged black militant is on the warpath through the rebel squats of 1960’s Brixton, a Mississippi housewife decides to make the ultimate sacrifice to save her son from small-town ignorance, a young woman leaves rural Jamaica in search of her destiny and a Sydney schoolgirl loses her way. The young mother keeps writing, the rejection letters keep arriving…

Foreign Soil was the winning manuscript of the 2013 Victorian Premier’s Award for an Unpublished Manuscript, and is written in English, broken English and accented English.

Grab a copy of Foreign Soil here

97807336324267. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?

I hope readers come away from Foreign Soil with more compassion, care for, and connectivity to, people pushed to the fringes of society. I hope their hearts are fuller, and more generous. I hope the book shifts something in them, in some way, for the better.

8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?

I admire risk-takers and trailer-blazers. I admire writers who don’t shy away from the difficult, or the heartbreaking, or the overtly political. I like writers who tell it like it is, who are curious, daring and generous with their emotions. I like to read writers who leave a little of themselves in each of their works, because I know how difficult and emotionally taxing that is to accomplish. I like to read work from writers who push forms and genres to the limit. I like writers whose characters are so real you could reach out and hug them, (or slap them, as the case may be). I like contemporary fiction and non-fiction, and try to read a lot of Australian writing. Recently, I’ve enjoyed reading work by Jamaica Kincaid, NoViolet Bulawayo, Jeff Sparrow, Chris Abani, Josephine Rowe, Tony Birch, Alice Pung and Jesmyn Ward. But oh, the list could go on.

9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

I want to write. I want to always be articulate enough to start the conversations I’d like to start, and to hopefully have the privilege of always having those conversations find their way to the shelf. I’d like an ongoing dialogue with my readers. Writing is in many ways such a solitary pursuit, and I’d love for it to be a social one too, as it’s very much my way of digesting what’s going on in the world, making sense of things. I hope also though, that readers get pleasure from reading my work, that it’s something they do enjoy reading.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Keep writing. And keep learning. And most of all, keep submitting and editing. If you want to make a career out of it, look at writing as a marathon, rather than a sprint. Passion is key, but restraint and pace are also crucial in the long-term, or you burn out. And read. For Christ’s sake, you have to read. Read as much as you can, and then re-read as much as you can, and then dissect what it is you love about the books you do read and love.

Maxine, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of Foreign Soil here

GUEST BLOG: Flash Fictions – Key Words and After-Images by Angela Meyer

Franz Kafka

Franz Kafka

There’s a very short story by Franz Kafka, called On the Tram, where the narrator, ‘unsure of his footing in this world’, watches a woman move towards the steps, ready to alight. He is taken in completely by this vision:

She is as distinct to me as if I had run my hands over her.

He describes her appearance and dress, ending with this:

Her small ear is close-set, but since I am near her I can see the whole ridge of the whorl of her right ear and the shadow at the root of it.

He wonders, at the close of the story, how she is not amazed at herself.

The narrator never tells you that the woman is attractive, or beautiful, but she comes alive to the reader, due to words that convey intimacy (and we must acknowledge that word choice in this case involves the work of the translators Willa and Edwin Muir).

In a short story, every word must count. What is left out is as important as what is left in. The writer must create and maintain a particular tone, or mood, and create a piece that feels whole (not a fragment) but that may evoke much outside its confines. With my own very short stories (also called flash fictions or microfictions), I want the characters, images, themes to live long in the reader’s mind. I want them to have some impact.

You might compare a very short story to a complex painting – a narrative-based painting – where the symbols nestled in the setting and upon the figures work together to not only suggest a particular story but hopefully move you to feel something, something you may not even fully, consciously comprehend.

Angela Meyer

My own stories are not abstract paintings, they are figures in a landscape, though some are expressively warped: the stories in Captives range from dark Edvard Munchs to (superficially) bright Andy Warhols.

I’ve always been a visual person, and I think that’s one reason short stories appeal. Often they centre around an image, or a series of images. Think of Hemingway’s Hills Like White Elephants, or the new cloak in Gogol’s The Overcoat. In flash fiction, the central image might burn on the reader’s retina, difficult for them to blink away.

One of my favourite very short stories by Janet Frame, The Linesman, is about a woman watching a man repair a telephone line from her window. She cannot seem to move away from this image, despite being hungry and thirsty. The final line is: ‘You see, I was hoping that he might fall.’ The images are sometimes related to epiphanies or indications of character. Often, they are absurd and tell you nothing overt at all (which may really be telling you more).

Mine include a man pointing a gun at his beloved, a woman swallowing objects, an empty cradle, a locked toilet, a newspaper headline, a man on a tightrope, and actor Anthony Perkins’ bum. I hope that the characters will come alive, like the woman on Kafka’s tram did for me, that the stories will produce a range of effects, and that an image or two will remain long in your mind.

Angela Meyer is a Melbourne-based writer and reviewer. Her short stories, articles and reviews have been published widely.

Her new book Captives contains touches of Annie Proulx, the way a lonely death can creep up on you and the way our sexuality will not be denied, though we may try to cover it up. There are many glimpses of ordinary people struggling with everyday madness in extraordinary ways.

Grab a copy of Angela Meyer’s Captives here

captivesCaptives

by Angela Meyer

Short, intense and mesmerizing. Read these very short stories on a train, a tram, a bus, or waiting in the check out line. Captives by Angela Meyer will fit into your pocket, your handbag or tucked into the cover of your ipad.

Captives opens with a husband pointing his gun at his wife. There’s a woman who hears ‘the hiss of Beelzebub behind people’s voices’, a photographer who captures the desire to suicide, a man locked in a toilet who may never get out, a couple who grow young, and a prisoner who learns to swallow like a python.

Movie stars appear throughout reminding us that people live on through images: Paul Newman, Anthony Perkins, Divine, and a girl who died in a car crash are all caught eternally on film.

Grab a copy of Angela Meyer’s Captives here

 

A Win For Alice Munro – A Win For Booklovers

nobel-prize-literature2013

The literary world is rejoicing in the news that Alice Munro has been awarded this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature.

Over the last few years more talk has centred around who was overlooked rather than who has won, but this year the world seems at peace with the decision, a tribute to the legacy of Alice Munro.

More than ever it feels as though booklovers have a Nobel Prize winner we can relate to, one of our own.

At just 11 years old, Munro decided she wanted to be a writer, and never wavered in her career choice.

“I think maybe I was successful in doing this because I didn’t have any other talents,” she has stated in interviews.

“I’m not really an intellectual,” Munro said. “I was an OK housewife but I wasn’t that great. There was never anything else that I was really drawn to doing so nothing interfered in the way life interferes for so many people.

“It always does seem like magic to me.”

Munro has always been an exceptional writer from her earliest days (her first story was published in 1950 to acclaim), but it’s her love of books that make her such a popular winner.

In 1963, she and her husband bought a house in Victoria, Canada and opened a bookstore, Munro’s Books, described by author Allan Fotheringham as “the most magnificent bookstore in Canada, possibly in North America”.

In a 2010 interview, she said she wanted readers “to feel something is astonishing – not the ‘what happens’ but the way everything happens,” she explained, adding that “long short story fictions do that best” for her as opposed to full-length novels.

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In 1994 Munro sat down with The Paris Review to talk about her life and career. It’s a beautiful, deeply personal piece that reflects her own work magnificently.

Here’s a taste:

INTERVIEWER

Have you ever had a specific time to write?

MUNRO

When the kids were little, my time was as soon as they left for school. So I worked very hard in those years. My husband and I owned a bookstore, and even when I was working there, I stayed at home until noon. I was supposed to be doing housework, and I would also do my writing then. Later on, when I wasn’t working everyday in the store, I would write until everybody came home for lunch and then after they went back, probably till about two-thirty, and then I would have a quick cup of coffee and start doing the housework, trying to get it all done before late afternoon.

INTERVIEWER

What about before the girls were old enough to go to school?

MUNRO

Their naps.

INTERVIEWER

You wrote when they had naps?

MUNRO

Yes. From one to three in the afternoon. I wrote a lot of stuff that wasn’t any good, but I was fairly productive. The year I wrote my second book, Lives of Girls and Women, I was enormously productive. I had four kids because one of the girls’ friends was living with us, and I worked in the store two days a week. I used to work until maybe one o’clock in the morning and then get up at six. And I remember thinking, You know, maybe I’ll die, this is terrible, I’ll have a heart attack. I was only about thirty-nine or so, but I was thinking this; then I thought, Well even if I do, I’ve got that many pages written now. They can see how it’s going to come out. It was a kind of desperate, desperate race. I don’t have that kind of energy now.

Take a little time to read the full thing, it’s a joy.

So, ladies and gentlemen, a toast…

To Alice Munro, winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature.

One for the booklovers.

Click here to go to Alice Munro’s author page at Booktopia,
Australia’s Local Bookstore

nobel-prize-literature2013

2012 Aurealis Awards Finalists announced

The finalists for the 2012 Aurealis Awards have been announced today, with Margo Lanagan leading the field with 5 nominations  including nods for Best Fantasy Novel and Best Young Adult Novel for her book Sea Hearts,.

Kate Forsyth was rewarded for her stellar year with the nomination of Bitter Greens, just a few days after her highly anticipated novel Wild Girl hit the shelves.

Judging Co-ordinator, Tehani Wessely, said that with almost 750 entries across the thirteen categories, the judges had a difficult job.

Margo Lanagan

Margo Lanagan

“Once again, the judges agreed that entries were of a very high standard and the final decisions were subject to much debate among the panellists. We had record entries in almost all categories.

“The trend towards quality e-published fiction continued in 2012, with a high percentage of entries published this way. The short story categories continue to flourish, and while some entry categories were relatively small, others maintained or surpassed previous figures.”

“I’d like to thank all the judges for their time and effort judging of these awards.”

2012 Aurealis Awards – Finalists

FANTASY NOVEL

Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth

Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff

Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan

Flame of Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier

Winter Be My Shield by Jo Spurrier

FANTASY SHORT STORY

“Sanaa’s Army” by Joanne Anderton

“The Stone Witch” by Isobelle Carmody

“First They Came” by Deborah Kalin

“Bajazzle” by Margo Lanagan

“The Isles of the Sun” by Margo Lanagan

SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL

Suited by Jo Anderton

The Last City by Nina D’Aleo

And All The Stars by Andrea K Host

The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Ambelin Kwaymullina

Confusion of Princes by Garth Nix

The Rook by Daniel O’Malley

SCIENCE FICTION SHORT STORY

“Visitors” by James Bradley

“Significant Dust” by Margo Lanagan

“Beyond Winter’s Shadow” by Greg Mellor

“The Trouble with Memes” by Greg Mellor

“The Lighthouse Keepers’ Club” by Kaaron Warren

HORROR NOVEL

Bloody Waters by Jason Franks

Perfections by Kirstyn McDermott

Blood and Dust by Jason Nahrung

Salvage by Jason Nahrung

HORROR SHORT STORY

“Sanaa’s Army” by Joanne Anderton

“Elyora” by Jodi Cleghorn

“To Wish Upon a Clockwork Heart” by Felicity Dowker

“Escena de un Asesinato” by Robert Hood

“Sky” by Kaaron Warren

YOUNG ADULT NOVEL

Dead, Actually by Kaz Delaney

And All The Stars by Andrea K. Host

The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Ambelin Kwaymullina

Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan

Into That Forest by Louis Nowra

YOUNG ADULT SHORT STORY

“Stilled Lifes x 11” by Justin D’Ath

“The Wisdom of the Ants” by Thoraiya Dyer

“Rats” by Jack Heath

“The Statues of Melbourne” by Jack Nicholls

“The Worry Man” by Adrienne Tam

CHILDREN’S FICTION (told primarily through words)

Brotherband: The Hunters by John Flanagan

Princess Betony and the Unicorn by Pamela Freeman

The Silver Door by Emily Rodda

Irina the Wolf Queen by Leah Swann

CHILDREN’S FICTION (told primarily through pictures)

Little Elephants by Graeme Base (author and illustrator)

The Boy Who Grew Into a Tree by Gary Crew (author) and Ross Watkins (illustrator)

In the Beech Forest by Gary Crew (author) and Den Scheer (illustrator)

Inside the World of Tom Roberts by Mark Wilson (author and illustrator)

ILLUSTRATED BOOK / GRAPHIC NOVEL

Blue by Pat Grant (author and illustrator)

It Shines and Shakes and Laughs by Tim Molloy (author and illustrator)

Changing Ways #2 by Justin Randall (author and illustrator)

_______________________________________

Winners of the 2012 Aurealis Awards and the Peter McNamara Convenors’ Award for Excellence will be announced at the Aurealis Awards ceremony, on the evening of Saturday 18 May at the Independent Theatre, North Sydney.

Claire Vaye Watkins wins U.S. Story Prize for short fiction

Author Claire Vaye Watkins was awarded the Story Prize in New York this morning for her debut collection, Battleborn. As winner she receives $20,000.

She faced some tough competition for the prize, with celebrated writers Dan Chaon and Junot Diaz also on the shortlist. Dan Chaon was the recipient of the 2006 Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, while Junot Diaz was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 2008 for the incredible The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Neither Chaon or Diaz left empty-handed however, collecting a cool $5,000 for their works Stay Awake, and This Is How You Lose Her

The judges wrote in a release about the prize, “In the ten stories in her first collection, Claire Vaye Watkins takes an unflinching look at the apocalyptic dimensions of our culture’s boom-or-bust obsession…. She’s a fierce and original new writer, and Battleborn is an astonishing short story collection.”

This year marks the ninth anniversary of the Story Prize,  the most significant award in the U.S. dedicated to collections of short fiction.

About the Finalists

Claire Vaye Watkins was born and raised in the Mojave Desert. Her collection of short stories, Battleborn, won a Silver Pen Award from the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame and earned Watkins inclusion on the National Book Foundation’s list of “5 Under 35.” A graduate of the University of Nevada Reno, She earned her MFA from the Ohio State University, where she was a Presidential Fellow. Her stories and essays have appeared in Granta, One Story, The Paris Review, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, Best of the West 2011, Best of the Southwest 2013, and elsewhere. An assistant professor at Bucknell University, Watkins is also the co-director, with Derek Palacio, of the Mojave School, a non-profit creative writing workshop for teenagers in rural Nevada.

Dan Chaon is the author of Stay Awake, Among the Missing, which was a finalist for the National Book Award, and You Remind Me of Me, which was named one of the best books of the year by The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, The Christian Science Monitor, and Entertainment Weekly, among other publications. Chaon’s fiction has appeared in many journals and anthologies, including The Best American Short Stories, Pushcart Prize, and The O. Henry Prize Stories. He has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award in Fiction, and he was the recipient of the 2006 Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Chaon lives in Cleveland, Ohio, and teaches at Oberlin College, where he is the Pauline M. Delaney Professor of Creative Writing.

Junot Díaz was born in the Dominican Republic and is the author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award; as well as This is How You Lose Her, a New York Times bestseller and National Book Award finalist; and the critically acclaimed Drown. His fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, African Voices, and numerous Best American Short Stories anthologies. He is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, PEN/Malamud Award, Dayton Literary Peace Prize, Guggenheim Fellowship, and PEN/O. Henry Award among other accolades. A graduate of Rutgers College, Díaz is currently the fiction editor at Boston Review and the Rudge and Nancy Allen Professor of Writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Click here to buy the winner of The 2012 The Short Story Prize Battleborn from
Booktopia, Australia’s Local Bookstore

The Last Chance Saloon – Take these Novelists off the cusp and into the shortlist

We here at Booktopia are a democratic lot so we thought we’d give you one last chance to mold your shortlist, which you will be voting for all next week. We’ve taken the first 12 from every heat and these are the top 60 (see the list on the pad below) who will go straight through to the final round of voting. Congratulations to all!

Top 60

But this weekend we’re deciding which of the next, wonderful, fantastic, lot of novelists will get to the final 75. Here’s the list of 25 below, the top 15 will get through to the final poll which will run all week right here.

And one final thing that we must stress. You can select as many novelists as you like with your vote. So you can vote for every person, all 25 of them, or just vote for one. The choice is yours.

So without further delay, here is the 25 that must become 15. A terribly difficult task we know, but it must be done.

Happy voting!

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Nick Earls, author of Welcome to Normal, The True Story of Butterfish, The Fix, and many more, answers Six Sharp Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Nick Earls

author of Welcome to Normal, The True Story of Butterfish, The Fix, and many more,

Six Sharp Questions

——————————–

1. Congratulations, you have a new book. What is it about and what does it mean to you?

Welcome to Normal started when I tried to persuade my publisher to take most of the stories from my last collection, Headgames, which came out in 1999, and repackage them with stories I’d written for anthologies and journals since then. Then I realised I had the prospect of something much more exciting if I used none of the stories from Headgames, took only two of the newest stories and built the book from there, ie, wrote another 60,000 words. It meant an extra 18 months work (as opposed to no work, which is always nice if you can pull it off), but it let me shape the book with an overall concept in mind and a clear sense of what I was aiming at any time I sat down to write.

I knew there was a town in the US called Normal, and I liked the idea of writing something called Welcome to Normal, in which a couple of outsiders visited the town. I happened to have an email exchange at the time with Kate Miller-Heidke, who was touring the US Midwest with Ben Folds, and I mentioned a few things about a trip I made to Bloomington Indiana in 1990. She dared me to write about it, which didn’t actually happen, but just thinking of that trip triggered something, and Welcome to Normal became a young graduate and his boss – not the young couple I’d first thought of – on a road trip through the Midwest in 1990. By coincidence, Normal is part of a conurbation with a different Bloomington, in Illinois. By further coincidence, it’s mentioned in a Ben Folds song. It’s a story that had to be, really.

As I was planning that story and thinking beyond it, I gave some thought to what ‘normal’ was and what it would mean for the book. For each story, I wanted to find people who felt real, and then I often sent them somewhere – I gave them a physical journey and maybe took them out of their comfort zones, while also putting thought into the journeys they were really on. I think that’s part of normal – we send ourselves across town or across the world, and sometimes the real business is going on parallel to that and beneath the surface, and it’s often not spoken about. I wanted to leave a lot unsaid in these stories, but give readers all the pieces they needed to put it together. I love reading things like that, if they’re done well, so that’s what I tried to do. You can tell how happy these people are, or not, and sense their fears and frustrations, without me as the writer having to spell it out in block capitals.

I realise I’m not often known for my subtlety. I think I can be subtle, but sometimes I’ve been too subtle about it, or created other story elements that draw attention. Anyway, subtlety was on my mind with this one. Not only subtlety, but it was part of the mix.

Also, I realised at the start how much I loved writing shorter fiction, and somehow I’d forgotten that. Some stories shouldn’t be 80,000 words – they should be 3000 or 25,000. My favourite bit of the writing process is discovering the story in the first place. This book gave me the luxury of going through that eight times, rather than one.

Click here to buy Welcome to Normal from Booktopia, Australia’s No. 1 Online Book Shop

2. Time passes. Things change. What are the best and worst moments that you have experienced in the past year or so?

Worst – maybe the fatigue during those months when my son didn’t know how to sleep

Best – being there while he develops language, learns what he can do with it and lets us into what’s going on in his head (stop me now or this will segue into pages of gushy parent stuff …)

3. Do you have a favourite quote or passage you would be happy to share with us? It doesn’t need to be deep but it would be great if it meant something to you.

For this book there was one in particular I kept in mind:

Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.

Chekhov

Any time a book comes out I try to remind myself of this one:

For every person who thinks I look like the new Audrey Hepburn, someone else thinks I look like an alien.

Sophie Ellis Bextor

Some people get you, some people don’t, and trying to please everyone as a writer is a ceaseless, useless chase for your own stumpy tail.

4. Writers have often been described as being difficult to live with. Do you conform to the stereotype or defy it? Please tell us a little about the day to day of your writing life.

Conform. Life is a bit different now that my son is in here – I used to be able to give uncountable hours to work. My work days have fewer work hours in them, and more childcare drop-offs, etc. The ultimate superhero power would surely be one that adds more hours to the day. But if I had that, would I use them all for work? No, not now. I’d also want to kick balls, etc.

I am difficult to live with because every year my attempt to achieve perfect separation between my work life and my life life fails. Each year I correct half the mistakes of the previous year, and then learn ways to make new ones. I make as much of the job nine to five (nine-thirty to four) as I can, but a writer’s brain is a writer’s brain, and it’s clueless about office hours. Ideas come, and need writing down. My mind wanders, because my job calls for it even if my life doesn’t. And I need to do business in several time zones.

I try to make up for all that with flair in the kitchen (hah), great bedtime stories, park time, etc. My life can’t be all about creating the perfect environment in which the artist can then create something. It has to be about having the best life possible, and making sure there are at least some hours in it for writing.

5. Some writers claim not to be influenced by the needs of the marketplace, while others seem obsessed by it. Would you please describe how the marketplace affects your writing (come on, tell the truth!).

This book is a collection of short fiction. I can’t believe you’d even suggest such a thing would be motivated by the marketplace. I wish. I wish I was sitting here with all my friends going, ‘He’s totally sold out. He’s just written this collection of short stories and novellas. It’ll probably sell millions’.

I can’t say I never think about the marketplace, but in the end, there’s no point in me setting out to write something I’m not desperate to write, since I won’t do a good job of it. Sometimes though, of all the things I might write, I think ‘which ones of these might people actually want to buy?’ If you want to keep your job, it’s not a bad question to ask.

So how am I thinking of the marketplace right now? This is a crazy unpredictable time to be in the book industry, and I’ve decided on a policy of diversification, while aiming to always turn out the best work I can. So, I’ve got involved in a film project, I’m writing a kids’ trilogy and I’m publishing ebooks in the US, as well as keeping the adult fiction coming. It seems smart to have irons in a few fires. Fortunately, every project is something I really want to do.

6. Unlikely Scenario: You’ve been charged with civilising twenty ill-educated adolescents but you may take only five books with you. What do you take and why?

I’d take just two: Lord of the Flies and the IgguldensDangerous Book for Boys. I’d give them those, then I’d let them loose in the wilderness, film the whole thing and market it as a reality TV version of The Hunger Games. Then, wracked with guilt, I’d donate half if not all of my resulting awesome wealth to set up an organisation for civilising rogue adolescents, using an evidence-based approach devised by experts. That would include me buying whichever five books those experts recommended, and probably quite a few more.

Fortunately in real life I’m responsible for only one toddler.

Nick, thank you for playing.

You can follow Nick on Twitter. I do. Oh, and while you’re at it, subscribe to his blog too. Wit and wisdom are a rare combination and Nick has both in spades.

Click here to buy Welcome to Normal from Booktopia,
Australia’s No. 1 Online Book Shop

To browse all of Nicks titles visit Booktopia’s Nick Earls Author Page

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