PODCAST SHOW NOTES
Join hosts Veronica and Darren for a jam packed edition featuring discussions about chasing brown snakes down wombat holes, the irony of agreeing to fight for a truth that can't be proven, the intricacies of delving into sympathetic elements of human monsters and why love is such a double edged sword.
What makes this episode extra special though is a magical interview with best selling author Lucy Christopher, who shares with us the wonders of her literary and academic journey, chats about her latest book "Release", and introduces us to possibly the fastest dog in the world, Rocket...
What Country do you write on?
I write on palawa / pakana land in lutruwita country.
What was your favourite book as a child?
I had so many! One of the first series of books I can remember being hooked on was The Silver Brumby series by Elaine Mitchell. I raced through these books across a period of several weeks when I must have been around 10 or 11, not long after I had moved to Australia from the UK. I was gripped by the sense of freedom that these wild horses had, as well as their sense of ease and adoration for the natural landscapes they were so entwined with. This strong evocation of wild Australian land really affected me as a young person who was learning how to assimilate and thrive in a new country.
What inspired you to write these books?
Release shares DNA with an earlier work of mine, a young adult book called Stolen. Stolen is about the original kidnapping of 16 year old Gemma, narrated from her teenage self. Stolen went on to be published in over 20 countries and became a story that would not let go – of its teenage readership, but also not of me, its author. I knew I would never write a sequel for that book, but as the years moved on, I did wonder what it might be like to revisit the worlds of Gemma and Ty ten years later. As a writer-academic, I am interested in how the passing of time affects the writing process. But it wasn’t just the characters, and their perspectives, that needed to change as a result of time passing.
As I researched, then wrote, Release, I too experienced this same outback land from ten years on, with the new perspective of an older writer who had lived in the UK and worked in English academia since Stolen was published; a woman who had married and considered having children; a woman who had thought about her connection and contribution to the #metoo movement. Release tracked my own journey through my changing sense of self and perspective on the themes of ownership and power in the story, leading me, the writer, to a new adult space.
To my knowledge, this is the first time someone has written an adult book with a link to an earlier Young Adult novel, growing up with her characters. It is a novel that tracks a maturation: of characters, of myself and my writing process, of even the original readers of Stolen.
Is there anything specifically Australian about your books?
Both Stolen and Release are set in the western Australian deserts and the Pilbara land. In these books I explore a European-Australian connection to this land, exploring the fear and beauty inherent in how we view desert scapes, and also questioning notions of belonging and ownership of land (as well as person). What exactly can we own, and how? What are the boundaries of love and appropriation? Can an imported species still find a sense of belonging to place? Gemma’s relationship to this land also stands for my relationship with wild Australian land: being at first scared and thrilled by it, later questioning my sense of belonging and ownership to it as a European-Australian living abroad.
Is there a message in your book/books?
I hope Release will make readers think. I hope that I have written a story that will stay in their minds long after they finish reading, and will urge them to question notions of truth and perception, the influence of time and place, and also what it takes to find a sense of release. I hope Release, together with my earlier Stolen, may also encourage readers to think about notions of storytelling.
As a writer, are you a plotter or a pantser or somewhere in between?
Somewhere in between. I tend to start a writing project very much a pantser, feeling my way quite organically into it – lots of free-writing, day dreaming, having big picture chats with others. Sometimes I embark upon writing projects rather haphazardly – I will write ‘blindly’ forward until I can’t write any more. Then, when I can’t write any more just from sheer enthusiasm and excitement for the words and world, that’s when I know it’s time to plan. I read everything I’ve ‘pantsed’ so far and try to work out what I am saying, and why I want to say it. I make a more detailed outline of the whole book then. That’s when the more focussed work begins.
How much research is involved in your writing?
Lots! But it’s not always the research people expect me to be doing. As place and setting is so important to my work and how I write, I spend a lot of time thinking about, and hopefully visiting, the place where the story is set. There I make many notes about the sensory details of place, as well as what has happened in that place in the past. I research setting to find out what happens inside it.
What’s your writing goal for the next twelve months?
I recently moved to Tasmania so I want to find a way to write about this new and wonderful place. I want to use this land for my creative inspiration, yet I don’t want to appropriate it either. Sometimes this is a balance that requires treading carefully and respectfully. I also want to finish my next novel for young adults.
Any final words for potential readers or writers?
Find enjoyment in the process rather than the product. The product of writing (novels, script, performance shows etc) can never be relied upon – sometimes you won’t find an audience who loves your work like you do, sometimes you might find that audience but never win an award or be recognised professionally, sometimes you will even be downright criticised or rejected by people you admire. However, the process of writing is never so fickle. Find joy in the act of making meaning from 26 letters arranged around the page. This you can depend on. There are fewer variables. Here, the only one who provides criteria for success is you. Have fun with you and those 26 letters.