Female Authors & Meta-Fiction

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I am gathering here a list of meta-fictional works of literature (and extra info: reviews, essays) by women. After reading At Swim Two Birds by Flann O’Brien, a classic novel (written by a male) that uses meta-fiction devices, I’ve become obsessed with collating a list of meta-fiction works by women for my own reading.

What is meta-fiction? William H. Gass coined the term metafiction in a 1970 essay entitled Philosophy and the Form of Fiction. Metafiction is a genre of fiction that draws attention to the fact that the reader is in the act of reading a work of fiction. It often adds a deeper dimension to the reading experience.

Patricia Waugh, in her book Metafiction: The Theory and Practice of Self-Conscious Fiction ( a bit of a bible on metafiction) says, ‘Metafiction is an elastic term that covers a wide range of fictions.’ (pg18)

There are a number of terms that come under the meta-fiction umbrella: selfconscious narrative; post- modernist literature; self-reflexive fiction; surfiction; self begetting novel; fabulation; intertextuality; self conscious narrative; anti-novel; anti-mimetic; unnatural narrative; experimental fiction; meta-narration and many more.

And just to make things difficult I’ll leave here another quote from Patricia Waugh: ‘What I hope to establish… is that metafiction is a tendency or function inherent in all novels.’ (pg5)

Want to explore the idea further? You’ll find more on the genre at the other end of this ( sporadically but continually worked on) list.

(Australian Authors are highlighted in Blue)

 

Margaret Atwood (Canadian)  The Handmaid’s Tale(1985)

(Why is The handmaid’s Tale MF?: The Handmaid’s Tale concludes with a metafictional epilogue that explains that the events of the novel occurred shortly after the beginning of what is called “the Gilead Period”. The epilogue is “a partial transcript of the proceedings of the Twelfth Symposium on Gileadean Studies” written in 2195. According to the symposium’s “keynote speaker” Professor Pieixoto, he and colleague, Professor Knotly Wade, discovered Offred’s story recorded onto cassette tapes. They transcribed the tapes, calling them collectively “the handmaid’s tale”. Wikipedia)

Other reading:

Margaret Atwood’s Metafictional Acts

Margaret Atwood’s Modest Proposal: The Handmaid’s Tale

Margaret Atwood HAPPY ENDINGS (1983)

Happy Endings is a short story first published in a 1983 Canadian collection, Murder in the Dark.

Read HAPPY ENDINGS here

More readings ON HAPPY ENDINGS 

The Mad Literature Professor; Margaret Atwood’s Happy endings

Margaret Atwood (Canadian) THE BLIND ASSASSIN (2000)

(Why is The Blind Assassin MF?: The book includes a novel within a novel, a roman à clef attributed to Laura but published by Iris. It is about Alex Thomas, a politically radical author of pulp science fiction who has an ambiguous relationship with the sisters. That embedded story itself contains a third tale, the eponymous Blind Assassin, a science fiction story told by Alex’s fictional counterpart to the second novel’s protagonist, believed to be Laura’s fictional counterpart. Wikipedia)

Jane Austen  NORTHANGER ABBEY (1817)

(Why is it M.F.? The Novel is a satire of the Gothic novels popular at the time of its first writing in 1798–99…. it contains many literary allusions…. [naming] many of the Gothic novels of that time and includes direct commentary by Austen on the value of novels, which were not valued as much as nonfiction or historical fiction.Wikipedia)

Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre (UK) 1847

My Thoughts on Jane Eyre as meta-fiction

Christine Brooke-Rose  BETWEEN (UK) 1968

Christine Brooke-Rose, THRU (1978) 1975

Brigid Brophy FLESH (U.K.) 1979

A.S. Byatt (English) POSSESSION (1990) Booker prize.

(Why is Possession MF? The novel follows two modern-day academics as they research the paper trail around the previously unknown love life between famous fictional poets.  The structure of the novel incorporates many different styles, including fictional diary entries, letters and poetry, and uses these styles and other devices to explore the postmodern concerns of the authority of textual narratives. from wiki)

Other readings:

A.S. Byatt’s Possession: A Postmodern perspective Analysis. 

(De)construction of the post modern in A.S.Byatt’s POSSESSION

Tongue Sophistries: Review: Possession by A.S.Byatt

Why You Should Read Possession (A.S Byatt)

A.S. Byatt, THE GAME (U.K.) 1969

Angela Carter (English) NIGHTS AT THE CIRCUS (1984)

(Why is it M.F.? Nights at the Circus incorporates multiple categories of fiction, including postmodernism, magical realism, and postfeminism. As in her previous works, Carter plays with many literary aspects and dissects the traditional fairy talestructure.Wikipedia)

More about this book:

Tall Tales and Brief Lives: Angela Carter’s Nights at the Circus

Angela carter’s Nights at the Circus: A Histographical perspective

Tracy Chevalier, Girl With a Pearl Earring (U.K/U.S.) 1999

Joan Didion ( U.S.)  DEMOCRACY  (1984)

Why is Democracy MF? Democracy is unusual in that its narrator is not a character within the novel’s world but a voice whom Didion identifies as herself, a writer self-consciously struggling with the ambiguities of her ostensible material, the ironies attendant to narration, and the inevitable contradictions at the heart of any story-telling. Didion’s deft and economical use of this conceit allows her to comment not only upon the novel she chose to write, a romantic tragedy, but also upon the novel she chose not to write, a family epic encompassing generations of Inez’s wealthy Hawaiian family, artless emblems of the colonial impulse. Wikipedia)

Margaret Drabble  (U.K.) THE RADIANT WAY (1987)

Why is THE RADIANT WAY metafiction?

The Radiant Way is a highly complex work. Subverting traditional structures, using fiction to examine British society, and making comparisons and conversations between her own work and that of others.

‘More than 65 writers and about a dozen visual artists appear in the text…Experiments with Point of View by employing communal protagonists…….the entry of the narrator into the text…makes fictionality…a central theme…'(Bromberg)

Pamela S Bromberg writes extensively in her article Margaret Drabbles. The Radiant Way: Feminist Metafiction

NYT Review: Growing Up Thankless By MARILYNNE ROBINSON

An Interview with!Dame Margaret Drabble,  Nick Turner

The Paris Review: Margaret Drabble, The Art of Fiction No. 70

Margaret Drabble, THE DARK FLOOD RISES (U.K.) 2016

I’m struggling to find a review or essays on The Dark Flood Rises that corroborate my thoughts that it is a work of meta-fiction, but, I’ve found a few instances where the Narrator, who is not one of the characters, addresses the reader to discuss the characters. Below is one such quote. (Ivor, and Fran, are both characters in the book)

“And, as we have said, it is not a good idea to look too closely at Ivor. He wouldn’t like it, and we do not have the right to get too close to him. We have no permitted access to the inwardness of him. We know a lot about him, and we can describe his public behaviour, which is polite, circumspect, considerate. We can describe his public and even some of his more private actions, such as his new found church-going, and the lipstick he tried on as a boy. But we can’t get too close. He wouldn’t want us to see the dark shadowy violet-grey blotch on the right of his hardly wrinkled forehead, a blotch sitting above his eyebrow. It may or may not be spreading month by month. It is a handsome shadow, it decorates his handsome palely tanned visage, as an artificial beauty patch used to highlight the features of a Regency buck. We don’t want to be privy to Ivor’s thoughts about this omen. Fran Stubbs doesn’t mind our looking into her head, indeed she insists that we do so. She’s keen on the confessional mode, not necessarily with other people, but with herself. Ivor is not.” (Ebook, Loc 1187)

Margaret Drabble, THE WATERFALL, (U.K.) 1969

Jennifer Egan, A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD (U.S.) 2011

George Eliot, ADAM BEDE ( U.K.) 1859

Anne Enright, THE WIG MY FATHER WORE (Irish) 1995

Eva Figes, The Tree of Knowledge (U.K.) 1990

A novel about the daughter of the poet John Milton. It has a feminist theme and deals with women, religion and tyranny in 17th-century England.

Eva Figes Nelly’s Version 1977

In acclaimed author Eva Figes’ inventive reshaping of the pop psychological thriller, her fifth novel opens as Nelly Dean, a middle-aged woman suffering from amnesia, checks into a small-town hotel with a suitcase full of cash and no idea where it – or she – came from. Distrustful of everyone from the waiter who serves her lunch to a store clerk who claims to know her from grade school, Nelly fears she is part of a conspiracy, although she is strangely indifferent to the clues that might explain her puzzling circumstances. Part dark comedy, part mystery novel, Nelly’s Version offers an unsettling journey into the mind of a witty, intelligent woman stuck in a pastless present.

Elizabeth KOSTOVA (U.S.) THE HISTORIAN

The Historian ( FROM WIKIPEDIA) is the 2005 debut novel of American author Elizabeth Kostova. The plot blends the history and folklore of Vlad Țepeș and his fictional equivalent Count Dracula. The Historian has been described as a combination of genres, including Gothic novel, adventure novel, detective fiction, travelogue, postmodern historical novel, epistolary epic, and historical thriller.

Review by Bookslut

Dinah Lee KUNG (Swizerland) A Visit from Voltaire 

This is a quirky autobiographical comedy in which the phantom of Voltaire haunts her farmhouse as she tries to settle into life in Switzerland.

Guardian Review

Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook (U.K.) 1962

The Golden Notebook is the story of writer Anna Wulf, the four notebooks in which she records her life, and her attempt to tie them together in a fifth, gold-coloured, notebook. The book intersperses segments of an ostensibly realistic narrative of the lives of Molly and Anna, and their children, ex-husbands and lovers—entitled Free Women—with excerpts from Anna’s four notebooks, coloured black (of Anna’s experience in Southern Rhodesia, before and during World War II, which inspired her own best-selling novel), red (of her experience as a member of the Communist Party), yellow (an ongoing novel that is being written based on the painful ending of Anna’s own love affair), and blue (Anna’s personal journal where she records her memories, dreams, and emotional life). Each notebook is returned to four times, interspersed with episodes from Free Women, creating non-chronological, overlapping sections that interact with one another. This post-modern styling, with its space for “play” engaging the characters and readers, is among the most famous features of the book, although Lessing insisted that readers and reviewers pay attention to the serious themes in the novel (wikipedia)

Doris Lessing, (U.K.) THE FOUR-GATED CITY 1969

Doris Lessing, (U.K.) BRIEFING FOR A DECENT INTO HELL (U.K.)  1971

Doris Lessing, THE MEMOIRS OF A SURVIVOR (U.K.) 1974

Joan Lindsay, Through Darkest Pondelayo: An account of the adventures of two English ladies on a cannibal island (Australian) 1936

The book is presented as an autobiographical travel narrative.Lindsay wrote the novel as a satire on English tourists abroad after having spent significant time in Europe with husband. Included in the book are multiple photos, presented as lithographs, featuring Lindsay and friends posed in various simulations as the characters enacting events depicted within the narrative. The narrative is also littered with intentional grammatical errors. In reviewing the book, Martin Boyd called it “one of the best collections of malapropisms in the English language.

Penelope Lively, MOON TIGER (U.K.) 1987

Ki Longfellow, Houdini Heart (U.S.) 2011.

Daphne Marlatt  Ana Historic (1988) (Born Australian-lives Canada)

Ana Historic CanLitGuides

Toni Morrison, Jazz. (U.S.) 1992

The novel deliberately mirrors the music of its title, with various characters improvising solo compositions that fit together to create a whole work. The tone of the novel also shifts with these compositions, from bluesy laments to up beat, sensual ragtime. The novel also utilises the call and response style of Jazz music, allowing the characters to explore the same events from different perspectives.

This book utilise the style of untrustworthy narrators, in which reality is altered slightly by the storyteller’s emotions and perspective. Narration switches every so often to the viewpoint of various characters, inanimate objects, and even concepts. The book’s final narrator is widely believed to be Morrison or perhaps the book itself.

Iris Murdoch, UNDER THE NET 1954

Iris Murdoch, THE UNICORN 1963

Iris Murdoch, A FAIRLY HONOURABLE DEFEAT 1970

Iris Murdoch, THE BLACK PRINCE 1973

Iris Murdoch, A WORD CHILD 1975

Grace Paley, Enormous Changes at the Last Minute. (U.S.) 1974

Marge Piercy, WOMEN ON THE EDGE OF TIME (U.S.) 1976

Ann Quin, PASSAGES, (U.K.) 1969.

Alice Randall, The Wind Done Gone. ( U.S.) 2001.

The Wind Done Gone (2001) is the first novel written by Alice Randall. It is a bestselling historical novel that tells an alternative account of the story in the American novel Gone with the Wind (1936) by Margaret Mitchell. While the story of Gone with the Wind focuses on the life of a wealthy slave owner, Scarlett O’Hara, The Wind Done Gone tells the story of the life of one of her slaves, Cynara, during the same time period and events.

Wind Done Gone’ copyright case settled

ABC News Review

NYT 

Michele Roberts, IN THE RED KITCHEN  (U.K.) 1990

Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea (Dominica/U,K.) 1966

The novel is written as a prequel and response to Charlotte Brontë’s noted novel Jane Eyre (1847), describing the background to the marriage that Jane learns about after going to work for Mr. Rochester.

Nathalie Sarraute, THE GOLDEN FRUITS, (France) 1963

Nathalie Ssarraute BETWEEN LIFE AND DEATH (France) 1968.

Murial Spark, The Comforters, (U.K. ) 1957

Murial Spark, MEMENTO MORI, (U.K. ) 1959K.) 1959

Murial Spark, THE BALLAD OF PECKHAM RYE (U.K. ) 1960

Murial Spark, THE PRIME OF MISS JEAN BRODIE (U.K. )  1961

Murial Spark, (U.K. ) THE GIRLS OF SLENDER MEANS (U.K. ) 1963

Murial Spark, THE PUBLIC IMAGE (U.K. ) 1968

Murial Spark, THE DRIVER’S SEAT (U.K. ) 1970

Murial Spark, NOT TO DISTURB (U.K. ) 1971

Murial Spark, THE HOTHOUSE BY THE EAST RIVER (U.K. )  1973

Murial Spark, THE ABBESS OF CREWE (U.K. ) 1974

Rose Tremain, RESTORATION (U.K.) 1989

Guardian Review, Restoration by Rose Tremain

Satire Revised in Light of Thatcherism in Rose Tremain’s Restoration

Aritha Van Herk, Restlessness, ( CA ) 1998

Sarah Waters, TIPPING THE VELVET, 1998; AFFINITY, 1999; FINGERSMITH, 2002. (U.K.)

Guardian Interview with Sarah Waters Sept 2002

NYT review of Affinity

Guardian review of Fingersmith

A book club reflects on Affinity

Virginia Woolf, MRS DALLAWAY  (U.K.) 1925.

Turning Inwards: the journey from intertextuality to metafiction in Mrs Dalloway and Atonement

Virginia Woolf, An Unwritten Novel. 1920 Short story.

Virginia Woolf, TO THE LIGHTHOUSE (U.K.) 1827

Virginia Woolf, THE WAVES (U.K.) 1931

Fay Weldon, PRAXIS (U.K.) 1978

Jeanette Winterson, The Passion (U.K.) 1987

Though nominally a historical novel, Winterson takes considerable liberties with the depiction of the historical setting and various strategies for interpreting the historical—making the novel historiographic metafiction

Jeanette Winterson, Sexing the Cherry (U.K.) 1989

Sexing the Cherry features elements of magical realism. Sexing the Cherry is a postmodernist work and features many examples of intertextuality. It also incorporates the fairy tale of the Twelve Dancing Princesses. (Wikipedia)

 Jeanette Winterson, The Powerbook (U.K.) 2000

Jeanette Winterson, Gut Symmetries (U.K.)  1997

Common metafictive devices  (from Wikipedia) in literature include:

  • A story about a writer who creates a story; for example, John Barth’s The Sot-Weed Factor, a thoroughly fictional account of the life of real person Ebenezer Cooke, a Maryland colonist who in 1708 wrote the real satirical poem The Sotweed Factor. Barth’s Cooke is a naive innocent who sets out to write a heroic epic, becomes disillusioned and ends up writing a biting satire.
  • A story that features itself as a narrative or as a physical object; a notable example is Vladimir Nabokov’s Pale Fire, which is ostensibly a 999-line poem of the same name, but with a foreword, index and extensive commentary in footnotes, from which so much detail is revealed of the lives of both poet and editor that a plot gradually emerges.
  • A story containing another work of fiction within itself; e.g. Calvino’s If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler
  • Narrative footnotes, which continue the story while commenting on it; e.g. House of Leaves
  • A story that reframes or suggests a radically different reading of another story; for example, Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea, which retells the story of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre from the point of view of the madwoman in the attic; or J. M. Coetzee’s Foe, which recounts a battle of wills between Daniel Defoe and a castaway survivor over the writing of the story that would be eventually become Robinson Crusoe.
  • A story addressing the specific conventions of story, such as title, character conventions, paragraphing or plots; e.g. The Secret Series
  • A novel where the narrator intentionally exposes him or herself as the author of the story; e.g. Kurt Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions, in which the first-person narrator—presumably Vonnegut himself, since he even shares Vonnegut’s birthday—regularly reminds the reader that the characters in the novel are fictions of his own creation:
    “I do not know who invented body bags. I do know who invented Kilgore Trout. I did.
    I made him snaggle-toothed. I gave him hair, but I turned it white. I wouldn’t let him comb it or go to a barber. I made him grow it long and tangled.
    I gave him the same legs the Creator of the Universe gave to my father when my father was a pitiful old man. They were pale white broomsticks. They were hairless. They were embossed fantastically with varicose veins.
    And, two months after Trout received his first fan letter, I had him find in his mailbox an invitation to be a speaker at an arts festival in the American Middle West.”
  • A story in which the authors refers to elements of the story as both fact and fiction; for example, in Joseph Conrad’s Author’s Preface to Nostromo, most of which provides a factual account of how he came to write the novel, Conrad states “My principal authority for the history of Costaguana is, of course, my venerated friend, the late Don Jose Avellanos, minister to the courts of England and Spain, etc., etc., in his impartial and eloquent ‘History of Fifty Years of Misrule.'” Thus Conrad, in a putatively factual context, attributes his intimate knowledge of the fictional country in which his story is set, to a fictional book written by one of his book’s characters.
  • A book in which the book itself seeks interaction with the reader, such as Art Spiegelman’s picture book Open me, I’m a dog!
  • A story in which the readers of the story itself force the author to change the story
  • A story in which the characters are aware that they are in a story
  • A story in which the characters make reference to the author or his previous work; for example, in Paul Auster’s City of Glass, the main character is an author of detective novels who writes under a pseudonym, and identifies closely with his own main character. He receives a phone call from someone seeking a detective named Paul Auster, and ends up posing as Paul Auster so as to take the case. Paul Auster is later found to be an author, not a detective.

These elements of metafiction are similar to devices used in metacinematic techniques.

Other Books/works on meta-fiction:

Metanarration and Metafiction by Birgit Neumann & Ansgar Nünning

Hutcheon, Linda, Narcissistic Narrative. The Metafictional Paradox, Routledge 1984,

Levinson, Julie, “Adaptation, Metafiction, Self-Creation,” Genre: Forms of Discourse and Culture. Spring 2007, vol. 40: 1.

Patricia Waugh, Metafiction: The Theory and Practice of Self-Conscious Fiction, 1984

Extracts from Patricia Waugh’s Metafiction: the Theory and Practice of Self-Conscious Fiction (1984)

The following are other works on metafiction that I keep here just for my own reference, but please feel free to use them too!

  • Dupuy, Jean-Pierre (1989). “Self-reference in Literature.” Poetics 18, 491–515.
  • Peters, Joan D. (2002). Feminist Metafiction and the Evolution of the British Novel. Gainesville: UP of Florida.
  • Quendler, Christian (2001). From Romantic Irony to Postmodernist Metafiction: A Contribution to the History of Literary Self-Reflexivity in its Philosophical Context. Frankfurt a.M.: Lang.
  • Alter, Robert (1975). Partial Magic: The Novel as a Self-Conscious Genre. Berkeley: U of California P.
  • Booth, Wayne C. (1952). “The Self-Conscious Narrator in Comic Fiction before Tristram Shandy.” PMLA: Publications of the Modern Language Association of America 67, 163–85.
  • Cutter, Martha J. (1998). “Of Metatexts, Metalanguages, and Possible Worlds: The Transformative Power of Metanarrative in C.P. Gilman’s Later Short Fiction.” American Literary Realism 31, 41–59.
  • Fludernik, Monika (1996). Towards a ‘Natural’ Narratology. London: Routledge.
  • Fludernik, Monika (2003). “Metanarrative and Metafictional Commentary: From Metadiscursivity to Metanarration and Metafiction.” Poetica 35, 1–39.
  • Gass, William H. (1970). Fiction and the Figures of Life. New York : Knopf.
  • Genette, Gérard ([1972] 1980). Narrative Discourse: An Essay in Method. Ithaca: Cornell UP.
  • Hutcheon, Linda (1980). Narcissistic Narrative: The Metafictional Paradox. New York: Methuen.
  • Hutcheon, Linda ([1989] 1996). “Incredulity toward Metanarrative: Negotiating Postmodernism and Feminisms.” K. Mezei (ed). Ambiguous Discourse: Feminist Narratology and British Women Writers. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, 262–67.
  • Nünning, Ansgar (2004). “Towards a Definition, a Typology and an Outline of the Functions of Metanarrative Commentary.” J. Pier (ed). The Dynamics of Narrative Form: Studies in Anglo-American Narratology. Berlin: de Gruyter, 11–57.
  • O’Donnell, Patrick (2005). “Metafiction.” D. Herman et al. (eds). Routledge Encyclopedia of Narative Theory. London: Routledge, 301–02.
  • Prince, Gerald (1982). Narratology: The Form and Functioning of Narrative. Berlin.: Mouton de Gruyter.
  • Prince, Gerald ([1987] 2003). A Dictionary of Narratology. Aldershot: Scolar Press.
  • Scholes, Robert (1970). “Metafiction.” Iowa Review 1, 100–15.
  • Šklovskij, Viktor (Shklovsky, Victor) ([1921] 1965). “Sterne’s Tristram Shandy: Stylistic Commentary.” L. Lemon & M. Reis (eds). Russian Formalist Criticism: Four Essays. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 25–57.
  • Waugh, Patricia (1984). Metafiction: The Theory and Practice of Self-Conscious Fiction. London: Methuen.
  • Wolf, Werner (2009). “Metareference across Media: The Concept, its Transmedial Potentials and Problems, Main Forms and Functions.” W. Wolf (ed) in collaboration with Katharina Bantleon and Jeff Thoss. Metareference across Media. Theory and Case Studies. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1–85.
  • Dupuy, Jean-Pierre (1989). “Self-reference in Literature.” Poetics 18, 491–515.
  • Peters, Joan D. (2002). Feminist Metafiction and the Evolution of the British Novel. Gainesville: UP of Florida.
  • Quendler, Christian (2001). From Romantic Irony to Postmodernist Metafiction: A Contribution to the History of Literary Self-Reflexivity in its Philosophical Context. Frankfurt a.M.: Lang.
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Castlemaine author Jenny Valentish gives Peaches the musical tang!

 

 

 

Photo by Susie Cavill
Photo by Susie Cavill




 Today on Lychees or Peaches Castlemaine author Jenny Valentish gives peaches the musical flavour!. Jenny will be appearing at this years Bendigo Writers Festival on the panel Girl You’ll Be A Woman Soon  ( or if you like Girl You’ll Be A Woman Soon )with Nicole Hayes and Kirsten Krauth.

 

 

Okay Jenny, hard questions first: Lychees or Peaches?
Lychees, or I’ll have Hugh Cornwell in my head.

 

I must admit I had to YouTube Hugh Cornwell and Peaches, but now that live guitar intro is stuck in my head. If you were written about in a newspaper, what would the headline say?

NOT AGAIN! VALENTISH PLEADS INNOCENCE

 

What is your favourite line from a book or movie?
I’ve always liked the first line of Stephen King’s The Shining. “Jack Torrance thought: Officious little prick.” BLAM!

 

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

I would say edgy commercial fic along the lines of Chuck Palahniuk and Brett Easton Ellis. I can’t help but write fast and furious; you’re not going to catch any of my characters meandering. I admire the likes of Romy Ash and Carrie Tiffany for their considered prose, but I have no desire to do it.

 

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

My nose itches a lot. It may be gluten.

 

Or dairy, my nose itches with dairy, just sayin’. What is your latest book about?

It’s inspired by all the bands I’ve interviewed who have grown to despise each other but are stuck. Two cousins, Nina and Rose, form The Dolls. They want to be L7 but they’re being marketed as pop (see also my answer to question seven) – and are struggling with this. They only got signed in the first place because of the nepotism of their aunt, who was a megalomaniac pop star in the 1980s, but as her career starts to make a comeback, she turns on them.

 

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

My original title was My Life in Reviews – so not nearly as commercial and chick-lit as Cherry Bomb. However, this book is being marketed by Allen and Unwin as commercial fiction with the aim of selling maximum copies, so when I was told (straight off the bat, before I’d even been signed) that the name would have to change, I accepted it. As a journalist I’ve worked at quite a few behemoth media companies at which some employees would accept all the benefits of that while trying to stick it to the man and cling onto their indie cred by undermining the company. That strikes me as hypocritical. If you sign up to something, you take that ride. Or just don’t sign up.

 

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 sing along to Adalita and Lana Del Rey a lot as that best suits my range, darling. Maybe LDR’s ‘Ride’. Judge: Matt Preston, just to mess with the heads of reality TV fans. Plus he used to write for the NME and I’d like to hear that kind of critique from him once more. I imagine it would be amusing.

 

 

What do you really, really, really, love?

Twilight. Actual twilight, not Twilight.

 

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

 

JV

 

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

Cherry Bomb can be found in many bookstores including Booktopia

 

Thanks for taking part in Lychees or Peaches, Jenny!

If you’d like to hear more from Jenny you can find her at her website  or on Twitter

Lychees or Peaches? with author Pamela Freeman: don’t get between Pamela and her drum kit!

 

 !cid_320F7CC6-059E-4458-9745-780E4A0B91C3@optusnet_com

 

 

1 Hard questions first: Lychees or Peaches?

Um…nectarines? Peaches if I must.

 

2 Okay, nectarines it is then (you’re such a rebel Pamela.)  If you were written about in a newspaper, what would the headline say?

Funnily enough, I received a copy of an article about me today.  The headline read:  Top Author Shares Secret With Students.  I’m okay with that one.

 

3 I wonder what that secret was – I bet it has something to do with drums – I guess we have to enroll in your novel writing course to find out! What is your favourite line from a book or movie?

This is hard…I’m a bit of a media girl. It’s likely to be a Monty Python line, like: Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! Or We would like: a shrubbery. I also love the first line of George Orwell’s 1984: It was a cold, clear day in April and the clocks were striking thirteen.

 

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

This is a hard question for me as I’ve just changed genres. In the past, I’ve written mostly fantasy (plus science fiction, mystery and non-fiction).  But my most recent novel is for adults and it’s straight history, set in World War I.  It’s called A Soldier’s Wife.  I suspect I may be writing more of historical fiction – I started a few years ago, with a book about Mary MacKillop’s childhood, but it’s been growing on me. I enjoy the research, I think.  I used to do a lot of research for my day job, and I did find that when I started full-time writing I missed that element, so maybe that’s why I’ve turned to history.

 

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

I blush to admit it, but I don’t have many secrets. I talk too much for that and my husband knows me too well. Can I use one that he knows?  I have a passion for real estate.  I’m one of those people who are constantly going online to check out what’s open for inspection.  I like to ‘keep an eye on the market’ just in case – even though we have no immediate plans to move!  My husband indulges me in this.  At least it’s a cheap hobby!’

 

6 If that’s the case, Pamela, I’ll remember not to tell you any secrets!  What is your latest book about?

The last published book is a non-fiction book about how Australia changed during Mary MacKillop’s lifetime (a project book, really).  The next one coming out is the fourth Betony book, Princess Betony and the Hobgoblin.  And my current novel is the WWI book, A Soldier’s Wife, which is with the publisher at the moment.  I’m waiting to find out if they’re going to publish it.

 

7 Good luck with A Soldier’s Wife! How did you come up with the title? Did it come to fistycuffs with your editor?

Not so far, but the cover designer hasn’t got hold of it yet!  In my experience, that’s when you are most likely to be asked to change the title. In fact, I’ve changed it twice already. My first working title was 1916, which sounded like a text book; then I called it The Home Front, but I thought that sounded boring.

 

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

I love Joel so I would pick him.  As for songs…. so, in my daydream, I sing a lot better than I actually do, of course, so I could handle songs I couldn’t really sing… something jazzy from the 30s, maybe? There’s a Bessie Smith song I heard recently (at a Hugh Laurie concert) which is so much fun and yet so heartbreaking that I couldn’t resist it. It’s called Send me to the Lectric Chair, and it’s a woman singing to the judge, asking him to give her the death penalty because she’s killed her unfaithful lover. Sounds appalling, but it’s a hell of a song! Judge, Judge, please Mister Judge, send me to the ‘lectric chair…

They would turn, oh yes they would!

 

9  What do you really, really, really, love?

My drum kit

 

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

 

chair

 I don’t write much at a desk.  The great advantage of writing in a chair is that it stays neater than a desk!

 

11 Lovely, lovely chair, I think you might have the secret to writer’s back health. Okay, serious stuff now: where can we purchase your latest book?

My kids’ books are available in most bookshops – or they can be ordered anywhere,  Dymocks, Booktopia, Amazon.  You won’t find Betony at Big W, because it’s a small (gorgeous) edition and they can’t shelve it, but once it’s out in paperback you’ll be able to get it there too (next year).  My adult fantasy books can be ordered also – I would recommend Pulp Fiction books if you want them quickly (0732362750)

 

Thank you for taking the time to do Lychees or Peaches, Pamela!

Pamela Freeman teaches a novel writing course at the Australian Writers’ Centre in Sydney, her next one starts in June, and I think there is still a couple of spaces if you are quick!

 

Pamela can also be found on Facebook at pamelafreemanauthor

 

 

Landscape With Animals, Cameron S. Redfern (Sonya Hartnett)

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Landscape with Animals, by Cameron S Redfern (Sonya Hartnett) 2006. I read the kindle version. Genre: Literature. Might also be classed as Erotica. (spoiler alert)

 

This book has many literary elements: you can read it for the sex scenes; you can read it for a brilliant portrayal of the circumstance of a love affair; you can read it for Sonya Hartnett’s intelligent, insightful, to be envied writing that I hope comes from hard work and doesn’t just drip from her fingers, or I give up now.

 

If you want to read a book for the sex scenes then this is the one: inside, outside and every which way, in succulent detail. At times it does get tiresome – I did think, oh no, not another one, where’s the story? But this is not without purpose.

 

The relentlessness of the sex is significant and essential to the story. The story is of an affair, our female protagonist is in love, but, as affairs go, she is only given access to a small part of her lover. (No, his penis isn’t small – I mean a small part of his life and psyche.) Therefore, the sex is all that she can have, and she takes it with gusto. If a love story can be divided into public and private, she only has the private.

 

The public and private here are sliced up definitively and cleanly. It’s a love story divided into accessible and non-accessible parts. We, as a reader, are given only the accessible part. I can’t say enough how brilliantly this is done.

 

In my uninformed opinion, the reason for the relentless, and after a while tedious sex scenes is to have the reader live inside her, the character’s, world. This, the sex, the private life behind doors, is all she has access to, is all that he gives her access to, and is all she can hold on to. This is the brilliantly portrayed world of a woman in love with a married man who has no intention of disrupting his life for her.

 

It is so perfectly done. As a reader, at no time do we enter any other world but hers. We never go to her lover’s wife/partner, we never go to any part of his life other than that that involves her. We, as a reader, are locked in her limited life with her. At story end, I was, due to Hartnett’s insightful and masterful prose, sincerely heartbroken.

 

This book is brave. Sonya Hartnett is known for her Literature and received much criticism for the sex scenes, that  are not simply sex scenes, but are the idea of sex, which is integral to the telling of the overall story – the heartbreaking exclusion of all else in the normal scenario of a love story, and therefore the immersion in the only aspect of the love story that the female character has – the sex.

 

That Hartnett is able to place us as the reader right in there with her is nothing short of masterful and a lesson in writing that I am taking away with me. Oh, and the sex is great.

 

She feels battered, purple and blue. Her skull feels shattered, her throat cut, her eyes gouged and streaming liquid. She won’t walk in the park with him, won’t help him pick fruit from the trees. She won’t go window-shopping with him or watch him sort through the mail. Her lungs feel packed and flooded, her heart wrested from its cave. She won’t run down the street after him when he leaves his wallet behind. Her spine is snapped, her ribs are kindling, her teeth are torn from her jaw. Her hands between her pulverised knees are smashed, the fragile bones jigsawed. She’ll never see him cook dinner, won’t dry dishes as he washes them. She won’t buy him socks or tug his sleeve or put a blanket on him when he sleeps. Nothing will happen. Her stomach aches. The soles of her feet are skinned raw. Her ankles are splintered, her toes ripped away, her nails are seeping blood. She won’t grow old with him, won’t watch him growing old. Sorrow is purring her as it consumes her. She wonders if this is supposed to feel.

Elizabeth Jolley interview with Julie Proudfoot

At the time of this interview ( October 1999) Elizabeth Jolley had just released her fourteenth novel: ‘An Accommodating Spouse’, and released only one more book in 2001: ‘An Innocent Gentleman’ . Sadly, she passed in February 2007. This interview was conducted for Mystic Ink Magazine.

 

When reading Elizabeth Jolley’s work with her strong characters you can be forgiven for imagining a woman with a domineering presence. Her presence is powerful, but you will also find yourself drawn in by her quietly endearing sense of humour, her modesty, and her generosity that come through with such warmth when she speaks. This humbleness and humour, you will find, is also present in her work. In her book,  Central Mischief: Elizabeth Jolley on writing her past and herself,  Jolley says, “I want, in my writing, to be optimistic and fond”. I think this sums up her personality as well as her writing.

Her words are full of meaning, and will entice you to read her work again and again, and her work can bear many readings, leaving you enjoying and seeing more of her depth of understanding of people and her exploration into the human mind while enjoying her fascinating characters.

Jolley’s work has often been referred to and studied by feminist groups for her strong, independent, and sexually confident female characters, but Jolley has denied having developed feminist issues in her work. Simply saying she enjoys writing real and interesting female characters.

J.P. Elizabeth your writing is very often the private details and internal
thoughts of your characters’ minds about their lives and relationships,
topics many of us avoid discussing in our own lives. Do you feel it takes
courage to be true to your thoughts when you write?

E.J.  Much fiction writing examines the private details in human life,
especially thoughts and wishes. Any writing needs courage because some
people might dislike your work.

J.P.  Helen Garner recently referred to writing as a ‘sickness’that must
be attended to’. How do you feel about your writing life?

E.J.  I don’t see writing as being a sickness. It is an art, which has to
be kept alive, and worked at with an excitement and the hope for something
special to occur.

J.P.  Do you believe anyone can write or is a talent required?

E.J. A talent or an interest in writing is help but great discipline is
needed to carry on the wish to write. A feeling for language and
compassion for human individuals are needed, also constant observation, the making of
a quick note, and mixing with people.

J.P.  Do you have a set writing routine?

E.J. No, I work whenever I have the chance and get up very early to make
time.

J.P. When you write a novel do you write prolifically and then go back to choose what to
leave in or out or do you go ahead and write the novel chapter by
chapter?

E.J. No, I never write prolifically, I write small unmatched fragments
and weld them into a story or novel in what I feel to be the best way (for
me) I re-write, and always rearrange order of events to structure the work.

J.P. Elizabeth I have read that you were writing for twenty years before
publishing, do you feel there are constraints or processes involved in
publishing?

E.J. I was not accepted by publishers and their readers because, I think,
at the time I was offering “different” material here in Australia.
Everything has been published now, except the novel I am not finished
with. It is hard to get in the Eastern seaboard publishers if you live in
Western Australia, and I feel that this was the case.

J.P. You have the ability to convey immense feeling and meaning in your
work. Would you attribute this to your abilities as a wordsmith, or
perhaps your understanding of human nature?

E.J. I try to understand human nature sexual and otherwise, if there was
no mystery about life and death etc. I suppose there would be no writing? I
suppose that is the case. I love language and people and places

J.P. There is often sexual tension in your work, in your opinion how much
sex, if any, is good for a story?

E.J. There is a “lot of sexual tension about.” – sorry for the cliché.
Sexual matters create tension of all sorts between people; most mistakes
in life are sexual in origin. I would not place too much in a story or novel
and by suggestion is more powerful than straight boring telling. ‘Crude’ is
not a good thing either, it becomes boring.  I try to be interesting!

J.P. At a reading from your most recent book, The Accommodating Spouse,
you read a childhood story of your own, and spoke of the importance of
recollecting and writing our own childhood. Why, in your opinion, is it
important to write our childhood?

E.J. If people want to write their child hood it may be soothing to them,
also experiences which belong to one person might not be known about by
other peoples and can become interesting material in a book – but not
overdone in length or in incident. However, writing about your own
childhood can be a bore to other people, as our dreams may be boring to
other people.

J.P.  In your work there is a strong sense of place coming through, I am
referring to the Australianness and Britishness of the landscapes and
characters. Do you feel your work can be enjoyed cross-culturally?

E.J. Yes I think people like to read familiar backgrounds and they like
to be offered a wide variety of backgrounds. British, Australian and
European backgrounds are very important to me to show things about characters. I
hope I am being enjoyed a bit in different places – rather awful to see
one of your own books being sold for 5 cents on a charity stall!

J.P.  Elizabeth you have a website on the Internet, do you find this
helpful in bringing you additional exposure, and have you ever considered writing
and publishing e-books through the Internet?

E.J. I know nothing about web sites. I do not have anything to do with
computers except to supply grandsons with “the necessary” and the money
for the computers’ needs. I can’t even type and I can’t ‘compute’, – that’s
how I am; I do not fret over this.

© Julie Proudfoot Melbourne 1999.

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