The Nouveau Novel In All Its Forms


Writers absorb the world around them and churn out thoughts through their fingers and onto the page (or screen). As we speak we are waist deep in a communication revolution that is transforming the way we think about the production of the novel.

Perth Writers Festival’s recent Twitter Novella is a perfect example of this new era of novels. Fifty writers (including yours truly) contributed two tweets each to a work read out at the festival, and tweeted via the @PWFNovella twitter handle. Writers were asked not to spend too much time on the work but be instantaneous, keeping with the essence of twitter, so the end result was vibrant if not a little bit strange. The work itself is a pure example of new ways of writing taken from the world around us. You can watch the event here with authors Annabel smith and Andy Griffiths presenting.

The Twitter Novella (which may have been done first by David Mitchell) is a completely modern kind of work, but authors are also blending tradition with innovation. Recently an author invited me to write a long form review of her novel, a book that I had read and reviewed previously in preparation for a panel at the Bendigo Writers Festival. The elements within the novel that called out to be recognised were the use of new ways of communicating – text messaging, tweets, chatroom transcripts – that you won’t find in a traditional novel. You can read the full review at its home with Tincture Journal here.

Annabel Smith’s novel, The Ark, is a perfect example of our world naturally influencing the entire structure of novels. With its use of various messaging systems including emails, and encrypted messaging programs to construct the novel. I love nothing better than to curl up in bed and turn the yellowed pages of a classic, but taking on board the ways people communicate as they go about their normal day, to incorporate in written work, engages people in reading and writing in a way that they want to be interacting, and in the process it has created a whole new genre.

There are whole areas devoted to the discussion of alternative-text within written works (Google Alt-Lit), and it comes with vast and detailed real life involvement, but that  is another blog post.

Annabel Smith don’t know karate, but she know crazy!





Please welcome today’s Lychees or Peaches guest, Annabel Smith.  Annabel is the author of Whisky Charlie Foxtrot, A New Map of the Universe, and newly released, The Ark.


To win an e-book version of The Ark, all you need to do is leave a comment, and hope we pick you! That’s not hard!



Okay, hard questions first Annabel! : Lychees or Peaches?

Peaches. No contest. Lychees have such a creepy texture.



Oh, poor lychees. If you were written about in a newspaper, what would the headline say?

Little-known author sprains ankle while dancing on staircase at husband’s 40th



What is your favourite line from a book or movie?

As a teenager, I memorised the entire opening scene from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off but nowadays I’m hopeless at remembering quotes. The only one that seems to stick in my head is from Shanghai Noon, when Owen Wilson says to Jackie Chan, ‘I don’t know karate but I know crazy!’.



Which genre do you usually write in? And why do you think this is so?

Tricky question. My first two novels, A New Map of the Universe, and Whisky Charlie Foxtrot, are contemporary family dramas of the literary variety. I think I wrote in this genre because it is the genre I read in, and my brain couldn’t conceive that there was any other way to write a book! That genre also suited the stories I wanted to tell. My latest book is a complete departure, being a digital interactive speculative-fiction novel-in-documents. I have always loved speculative fiction, and I found myself telling a story set in 2041. Since the subject matter was slightly futuristic I thought, why not have a crack at the new storytelling modes that are now available.



Tell me a secret about yourself that nobody in the whole world knows? Go on tell me, nobody but me is listening.

I am a blabbermouth by nature, so there is literally nothing in the world that absolutely no one knows about me. There are a few things I try to hide, for example I am not very good at sharing. Don’t tell anyone.


What is your latest book about?

The Ark is the story of a group of scientists and their families who retreat into a bunker inside Mount Kosciusko during a post-peak oil crisis, alongside a seed bank which holds the key to the future of life on earth. It explores human nature in desperate times.



How did you come up with the title? Did it come to fisticuffs with your editor?

‘The Ark’ is the nickname the seed bank employees give to the facility they work in. It never had any other name; this one just felt right from the start. It is not original but it says everything I need it to say. I didn’t need to do battle with my editor because I self-published.



When you daydream about singing on The Voice (I know you do) what song do you sing and if you could have any celebrity judge in the world turn for you who would it be?

I quite fancy myself singing The Motels’ Total Control. I have rather a crush on Devendra Banhart so I’d choose him for a judge, if only for the opportunity to stand near him in the green room.



What do you really, really, really, love?

My husband and son. Chocolate. Books. Dancing. 



Can you show us a quick snap of your work desk? No tidy spic and span ones please. I won’t believe you.



Oh no! I don’t drink wine or gin while I work, honestly. Both had water in them!



Serious stuff now: where can we purchase your latest book?


Thank you for taking part in Lychees or Peaches, Annabel!

To read more about Annabel and her work, you can find her at her website, on Facebook, and on twitter


To win an e-book version of The Ark, all you need to do is leave a comment and hope we pick you!


Annabel Smith is the author of Whisky Charlie Foxtrot, and A New Map of the Universe, which was shortlisted for the WA Premier’s Book Awards. Her short fiction and non-fiction has been published in Southerly, Westerly, Wheeler Dailies and Junkee. She holds a PhD in Writing, is an Australia Council Creative Australia Fellow, and is a member of the editorial board of Margaret River Press. Her digital interactive novel/app The Ark has just been released.







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