author of Brumby’s Run
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 in Melbourne and raised in between our family’s house in town and our farm. When I left school I went to Monash University to study Law.
2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?
At 12, I wanted to be a vet, live in the country and write novels about animals.
At 18, I didn’t know what I wanted to be, but still wanted to live in the country and write novels about animals. I didn’t want to be a vet anymore because a) maths was too hard and b) sometimes people dispose of unwanted pets by euthanising them. I didn’t think I’d be able to do that.
At 30, I wanted to be a good mother, bring my children up in the country and write novels about rural Australia and the environment.
3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?
I am still a committed conservationist, but now I understand that every little bit counts. We should celebrate even small advances towards a better world for our children. I love the story about the boy picking up stranded starfish and throwing them back into the sea to save them. A man says to him, “This beach goes on for miles, and there are thousands of starfish. Your efforts are futile, it doesn’t make a difference!” The boy looked at the starfish in his hand and threw it into the water. “To this one,” he said, “it makes all the difference.” We fix the world one day at a time, one person at a time, one action at a time.
4. What were three works of art – book or painting or piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?
The books of Elyne Mitchell – for her beautiful prose, and the way she unashamedly gave animals a voice.
The bush ballads of Banjo Paterson – for celebrating the beauty of the outback and the courage and spirit of its inhabitants, both animals and people
Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey – This book is essentially a love letter to the Utah desert. I was so inspired by Abbey’s sharp, poetic style. He brought the reader as close as possible, without actually being there.
5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?
Everything happens just the way I want it to in my imaginary world. Nobody can tell me what to do. How good is that?
Brumby’s Run is the story of a young woman named Samantha. She discovers she has a twin sister, Charlie, who is critically ill. City girl Sam soon finds herself running her sister’s farm, high in the Victorian alps. This new life, Charlie’s life, intrigues her. Bit by bit she falls in love with the mountains, the brumbies and with handsome neighbour Drew Chandler, her sister’s erstwhile lover. Sam begins to wish that Charlie might never come home…
The search for personal identity is a major theme. Brumby’s Run also looks at the damage family secrets can cause, and it explores our paradoxical relationship with animals and the environment.
(BBGuru: publisher’s blurb – A blissful carefree summer beckons for Samantha Carmichael. But her world is turned on its head when she learns she’s adopted – and that she has a twin sister, Charlie, who is critically ill.
While Charlie recovers in hospital, Sam offers to look after Brumby’s Run, her sister’s home high in the Victorian Alps. Within days city girl Sam finds herself breaking brumbies and running cattle with the help of handsome neighbour Drew Chandler, her sister’s erstwhile boyfriend.
A daunting challenge soon becomes a wholehearted tree change as Sam begins to fall in love with Brumby’s Run – and with Drew. But what will happen when Charlie comes back to claim what is rightfully hers?
Set among the hauntingly beautiful ghost gums and wild horses of the high country, Brumby’s Run is a heartfelt, romantic novel about families and secrets, love and envy and, most especially, the bonds of sisterhood. )
7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?
I hope readers take away an appreciation of Victoria’s beautiful upper Murray region, and the fabled wild horses of the high country. I also hope they are thoroughly entertained.
It would be too simplistic to choose one person, but I do particularly admire Australian novelist, Andrea Goldsmith. She is a consummate observer of people and writes with great sophistication and emotional depth. I have learned such a lot from reading her books.
9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?
To finish my new novel in a timely manner.
10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?
Read and write and read and write and don’t give up. It’s sometimes when you’re most disheartened, that a breakthrough happens – and try to shut up your internal critic.
Jennifer, thank you for playing.