I read many books as a child and wrote my first novel (unfinished) at twelve. It was a colonial saga influenced by ‘Seven Little Australians’ and ‘My Brilliant Career’ with a bit of ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’. I think there was even some sex-behind-doors, and lots of gum trees and dingoes. I’ve always thought that I was better at writing than other things and have a life-long love of words and stories.
My admiration for the determination and creativity of writers runs deep and authors such as Patrick White, Simone de Beauvoir, Virginia Woolf, Katherine Mansfield and Joseph Conrad have had a huge influence on my life. However, as an adult my writing path has been interrupted by travel, work and children – the usual suspects! Although at this point I realise I have a lot of material to write about.
You also produce short stories which are less easy to write than they might appear. Can you tell us in what way you feel the skills differ from writing a novel?
In a short story there is no time to fall out of step. The reader has to be brought to the story’s end or climax as to the rim of a cliff. The wiring of a short story, while intricate, has to appear effortless – like a rabbit pulled out of a hat. A novel is all about the expanse of the story, it is about inviting the reader onward with a gentler compulsion, allowing the reader to savour this imaginary world.
You live in Italy but are published by a British publisher. What made you decide to go down that route?
You write about the modern woman. Do you take your notebook and pen for a walk and observe those around you, or do they just emerge on the page?
I’m not one for notebooks as I’d probably leave it in a bar/car/shopping trolley somewhere. To me, my own comments look stale after a while and instead I really enjoy the process of writing – of unfurling an idea or a story tangent and seeing what the sub-conscious and conscious mind will wrestle out. I find it very exciting.
Tell us about your latest book and how you were inspired to write it.
Next year my mostly-Africa-based short story collection ‘Pelt and Other Stories’ is coming out. These stories are inspired by cultural discomfort and personal displacement.
The Divorced Lady’s Companion to Living in Italy was released in April 2012 by Indigo Dreams Publishing and her collection Pelt and Other Stories will be published in 2013.
Marilyn Wade, half-Hungarian divorcee and mother of unflinching teens, moves to Milan to remap her womanhood. But sexy glamorous Milan is about as unfeeling as a Prada bag. The streets are full of mile-high models, immigrants and remarkable men in suits. Who will she meet as she downs espresso after espresso in bars and learns Italian in a room with George Clooney? Marilyn’s entanglements involve punishing grammar lessons, stolen D&G heels and kisses with astonishing views, a kinky Hong Kong benefactor and a stirring love scene set in Venice. Will she ever find herself and a way to conjugate Italian verbs?
Thank you Catherine for sparing the time to talk to us today. We wish you every success with your new book.
Best wishes, Freda
Interviews on the RNA Blog are for RNA members, although we do occasionally take guests. If you are interested in an interview, please contact me: email@example.com