PODCAST SHOW NOTES
Could one of our hosts be scabulous? Join Veronica and Darren for episode 25 where the conversation explores the importance of made up words, what it means to be connected with nature, the powerful medium of Cli-Fi and the future of the human race... but best of all, we have a wonderful and revealing interview with author Averil Drummond who gives us a peek inside the reasons for writing the amazing Gloam!
What country do you write on?
I live and write on the land of the Awabakal people of the Lake Macquarie/Newcastle area in NSW.
What was your favourite book as a child?
When I was a child I was obsessed with animals and horses in particular. (Still am really.) So l loved Black Beauty, but I think my favourite book was The Wind in the Willows.
What inspired you to write this book?
What inspired me to write this book is the longest part of my story. It was after the Cop15 climate change summit in 2009. There was so much hype at the time that this would be the conference that would save the world from climate change. So many world leaders attending and then – nothing. Or that’s what it seemed like. I think a few administrative things were agreed to.
They had run a competition to go with the summit and I wrote a poem, ‘The Glumps of Gloam’ I wanted to give them a silly name to go with their stupid actions. A friend of mine read it out with pictures in the background on YouTube. I think it appeared on the Cop 15 site a couple of times.
Immediately after the conference ended I heard Christine Milne from the Greens interviewed on the radio. She sounded so despairing, and I knew just how she felt. I was trying to think of something, however feeble, that I could do to contribute to the climate change debate, and I came up with the idea of writing a book for young adults. So you can see that it took me a long time, not quite all this time, but until about 2015 to turn my idea into a book. I dedicated it to Christine Milne who had inspired me to write it. I was stuck with this Glumps idea because I wanted to include the poem in the book. Anyway, we are Glumps, and it’s no more a stupid word than ‘human’ when you think about it.
Do you write for yourself or for a particular audience?
I wanted to write for young adults as I said. It had the added advantage for me that I thought that I could just tell a simple story. I didn’t, and don’t, feel capable of writing a really literary novel. However, I think I might have misjudged my market a bit because the people who have been most enthusiastic about it so far have been adults, and often far from young.
Is there a message in your book?
Well the message in my book, and this ties in with why I would like people to read it, is an obvious one. That, if we don’t take urgent action we will go the way of the Glumps and be destroyed by changes in the climate. We seem to be riding out catastrophic bush fires and cyclones quite well so far. People and animals die, property is lost, but basically most of us go on as before. Even the victims often deny that climate change is the problem.
But I think eventually things will get too bad for business as usual. Already some people in coastal NSW will have worthless homes because they have been undermined by the sea. One possible scenario in the future is the mass displacement of people from heavily populated coastal cities which will cause global instability. Not to mention wars over diminishing river flows. There are many possibilities.
What genre/s do you like to read?
What sort of thing do I like to read? Well, I enjoy almost anything that’s well written, although I do prefer fiction to non-fiction and sometimes I can remember facts better when I have read a good historical fiction for example, than from a history book. I just finished ‘The Dickens Boy’ which was a Christmas present. I’m not a huge fan of Tom Keneally, although I certainly stand in awe of his output, but this was an enjoyable book, I thought, and informative. Before that I read a book that I would like to mention as I had never heard of it before. ‘No Great Mischief’ by Alistair MacLeod. It really is a beautifully written book and an excellent one for a beginner writer like me, as the story keeps looping back to the past, but it is so well done that the reader never loses track of what is happening or when. A good book to study for technique.
What words of advice would you give an aspiring author?
I think the most useful bit of advice I was given I gave to myself after lots of writing failures, and that is, ‘Whatever you think is good, it isn’t. Go over and over it. Try to imagine that you are the reader and what you would think of it.’ Not at the beginning of course, the best thing everyone agrees is to write, get it down. But then be prepared to be critical especially of wordiness, repetition, lack of consistency. I recently read that even John Banville, who I consider to be a great writer, goes over everything word by word aiming for as close to perfection as he can get. If the reader can’t tell that you have done that then you’ve done a good job.
Any final words for potential readers or writers?
To the reader I’d like to say, ‘Please just sit down with Gloam when you feel like simply reading a story. It does have sad bits but I think overall you will enjoy it. Although if I can make you laugh or cry I will be very pleased. I make no pretence to have written a great work of literature, and that’s just as well, because I haven’t. The only complaints that I have had from readers are in relation to me making up some words like ‘rote’ instead of ‘day’. This is mainly to remind the reader that we are not on Earth. It’s hard with a first book to decide what is best to do in this regard. But really, those words wont affect your reading of the story and you will get used to them quickly enough. I hope that you enjoy Gloam.