Rosalie Ham, author of There Should be More Dancing, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Rosalie Ham

author of  There Should be More Dancing, Summer at Mount Hope and The Dressmaker

Ten Terrifying Questions

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

Born and raised Jerilderie, NSW. Started my school life at Jerilderie Public, then for 2 years rode the bus 70 k’s a day to and from the nearest High School (Finley). For my final school years I left the vast plains and flat horizons for the rolling hills of Berwick, and St Margaret’s.

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

When I was twelve I was cast in the school play and had a startlingly positive response to the applause. Consequently, I believed I was a brilliant actress, and this was confirmed for me when, aged ten, my father finally purchased a television and I saw my brilliance reflected in the heroines battling their tragedies of triumph and terror against treacherous backdrops in the Midday Movies. Television was denied us at boarding school, but there were books full of drama and light, and another school play.

At eighteen I still wanted to be an actress but I had to become a nurse because my father told me I needed to ‘get a ticket in life.’ Nursing’s basically the same things as acting anyway. Then I encountered real-life treachery and tragedy in the form of my first broken heart, but I found I wasn’t cut out to be a triumphant heroine, and fled overseas. Upon my (eventual) return I enrolled in drama school.

Consequently, at thirty I wanted to be a writer because four years at drama school taught me I didn’t have the voice, face, talent or ambitious ruthlessness required to become an actress, but I maintained a yearning for the triumph, tragedy and terror of story.

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

I strongly believed I was having a good time if I drank, smoked and sang loudly into empty beer bottles. I no longer believe that.

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?

There was never much art in Jerilderie but there was the struggle between life and death on the family farm, and there was a library. I remember The Bafut Beagles as being an exotic, informative and very engaging read when I was about thirteen.

And I saw great pathos in Cezanne’s landscapes. It looked to me as if he’d put a huge amount of sincere effort into them, yet they still seemed not quite finished.

Rural community activities – agricultural shows, football grand finals and ANZAC day marches – mean that even today, brass marching bands induce in me a swelling heart and tears of joy. But it was the extremes in my early childhood years, the proximity of the (sometimes cruel) life cycle, the desperation of back-lane cricket and the nefariousness of local adulterers that fed my yen for narrative. I passed a lot of time in the limitless, empty outdoors and I had to amuse myself, and all of these things fuelled my play-acting and the dramas I had going on in my imagination at any given time.

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

Timing and opportunity. The story was there, I had the time, and out it came.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel… There Should be More Dancing

My third novel is about the near triumph of Margery Blandon. She’s lived in Brunswick for 60 years and has a passion for cross-stitch, proverbs and her long-dead sister. Her eldest son is affably brain-damaged, her second son is a criminal and her daughter has weight problems that exacerbate her failing life. Margery’s neighbours are drug dealers and Margery herself might or might not be a murderess. Her life-long enemy – now demented – is the holder of the truth about everything. But Margery does have friends. Unfortunately, Margery doesn’t notice any of these things until it’s almost too late.

(BBGuru: Publisher’s synopsis -

Margery Blandon has led a life of principles. Now she finds herself sitting on the 43rd floor of the Tropic Hotel, preparing to throw herself to her death.

Margery Blandon was always a principled woman who found guidance from the wisdom of desktop calendars. She lived quietly in Gold Street, Brunswick for sixty years until events drove her to the 43rd floor of the Tropic Hotel. As she waits for the crowds in the atrium far below to disperse, she contemplates what went wrong; her best friend kept an astonishing secret from her and she can’t trust the home help. It¹s possible her firstborn son has betrayed her, that her second son, Morris, might have committed a crime, her only daughter is trying to kill her and her dead sister Cecily helped her to this, her final downfall. Even worse, it seems Margery¹s life-long neighbour and enemy ­ now demented ­ always knew the truth.

There Should be More Dancing is a story of Margery’s reckonings on loyalty, grief and love.)

Click here to order your copy.

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

I don’t mind, as long as they take something.

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

I admire a lot of writers, but not all of their books. But I will read anything David Malouf writes, anything Cormac McCarthy writes and everything Marilynne Robinson writes.

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

I’d like to be able to go on publishing a novel every three to five years until I can’t type any more.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Lots of similes don’t necessarily make to good writing.

Rosalie, thank you for playing.

Posie Graeme-Evans, author of The Dressmaker, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru Asks

Posie Graeme-Evans,

author of The Dressmaker,

Ten Terrifying Questions

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

Ah, where to begin. Born in England and on one count (mine) went to 14 schools. My mum maintained that was an exaggeration. She said it was twelve.

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

At 12, an archaeologist: When I was twelve we lived in Cyprus. The past is so present there and I used to feel, in some ancient places of human settlement, that if I just held out my hand and closed my eyes, it would be grasped by someone who’d once lived in that place. I still like to dig, by the way. Something very satisfying about turning up an old bottle, or a buckle, in a garden bed. Research is like digging in rich black soil I think.

At 18, a singer: As to the second, at eighteen I was lucky enough to get a Commonwealth Scholarship to go to University (in Adelaide) however I’d been singing with a local band around town and, unexpectedly, talent spotters came to town. I was asked to audition and they offered me the chance to become a professional singer with a group they were putting together. An agonizing choice! However, in the end, I opted to go to Flinders (Drama, English, Fine Arts) and… turned out, being naïve saved me. The project I so hankered after didn’t actually happen (I knew nothing about how the music industry worked – just believed what people told me) so I got over my broken heart and plunged into another world.

At 30, I wanted to rule the world: I was an assistant editor and hating the drudgery. I also thought, arrogantly, that if I was just given a chance I could… rule the (entertainment) world. Well, had a bit of a go. Went and played with fire and just got a rosy glow in the end; only a bit scorched, not disastrously burned.

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

That the nature of art is absolute ie. that some created objects/works, in all cultures, at all times, will be recognized as great. I’m a Continue reading

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