I was afraid, when I began to do author talks, that someone would take me to task about this dubious fact, or that poorly argued inference. I thought they might interrogate me about my sources, or debate the validity of some of my suppositions.
It hasn’t happened. Not yet, anyway.
What I AM constantly being asked is why, and how, I first became interested in EM. If you’re wondering too, I wrote about the answer to that ages ago, in a post you can find here. Sometimes I’m asked about my path to publication. And sometimes I’m asked what EM was really like, as a person.
To which I have no genuine answer.
I usually go with platitudes about how she was an ordinary woman who loved her family, was fiercely ambitious for them, and willing to work hard to ensure their financial well-being. But it’s not a question we can answer about anyone, even about people we love and know well. What are they REALLY like?
Just like a biographer, we can only make judgements about others on the basis of what they say and do. Unlike fictional characters, in real life it is far more difficult to know what anybody truly thinks, or even feels.
These are the sorts of discussions, though, I suspect I’ll be having during at least some of my forthcoming author events.
On Friday 1 June (2018), I’m participating in the Brunswick Bound Bookshop’s First Chapters program, with three other writers:
- Paul Filev is the translator, from Macedonian, of Sasho Dimoski’s Alma Mahler, a fictional imagining from the point of view of composer Gustav Mahler’s wife. It’s a a tiny gem of a book, with prose that dances and swirls.
- Roger Averill is the author of the compelling and insightful novel, Relatively Famous. As Lisa at ANZ Litlovers says in her excellent review, “it explores Averill’s long-held preoccupation with biographical ‘truth’, and it also mines the fraught territory of unsatisfactory father-son relationships.”
- Robert Lukins beautiful, atmospheric and moving novel is The Everlasting Sunday, which I would argue is all about love, in all its many guises, but I can’t wait to ask Robert if that’s what he thinks too.
On the evening of Tuesday 12 June, I’ll be in Sydney speaking at Gleebooks (on Glebe Point Road, Glebe) with David Hunt, the author of Girt. I’m a fan of David’s podcast, Rum, Rebels and Ratbags, and I’m looking forward to having a lively conversation.
On Wednesday 13 June, at 11am, I’m speaking at Woollahra library, in Sydney’s Double Bay and that evening I’m speaking to the Camden Historical Society. Much of the action in my book takes place in Camden, so yes, I’m expecting an interrogation there!
On Saturday 16 June I’m back in Victoria, and speaking at the famous Williamstown Literary Festival – my very first festival gig and I couldn’t be more excited. I’ll be in conversation with biographer Georgie Arnott (The Unknown Judith Wright, 2016) about the capacities and limitations of biography. Georgie is currently developing a project based on pastoral family histories which focuses on indigenous and non-indigenous relations, so we’ll likely be covering some pretty interesting ground.
The next day, on Sunday 17 June, I’m off to Clunes, in regional Victoria, for their Booktown on Sundays series. I’ll be in conversation with local landowner, Christine Rowe, whose property has been passed down through female descendants of the family, from Ms Rowe’s great-grand mother, to her grandmother, her mother and now herself.
Phew – looks like I’m in for another big month. And you know what? I’m going to enjoy every minute of it!