Harmless drudge (ckridge) Thu 19 Aug 10 19:15
>What fascinates me is the terrain between people's public lives what we say, how we present themselves and the internal life< Interstitial terrain. Where Gerry likes to build. Gerry won my sympathy here: "Unexpectedly, Seb took a half-step forward and gave Gerry a quick hug. Gerry closed his eyes for a moment, feeling immeasurably satisfied with every decision about fatherhood he'd ever made, from having kids in the first place to the story he'd just told his son." All kinds of things wrong with that man, but the heart works. There are a lot of parallels between him and Angie. They are both good-looking, goodhearted bimbos who have gotten over on looks and charm too often. Susanna appears to be fond of the type. I have a question. There is a book discussion in this book, a discussion, in fact, of another of your books. It is very tempting to look at that discussion for clues on how to think about this book. It's where Jean passes judgment on the woman who walks out on her family: "She had no stickability." Jean values stickability, and Susanna is Jean's good daughter. I am inclined to think that this story is about what it's like when one does stick it out. Does this seem reasonable to you?
Kate Veitch (kate-veitch) Thu 19 Aug 10 21:41
Pamela, hello, and welcome. Glad the slang didn't trip you up! Thanks for your kind words on my depiction of the teenagers. The teenagers in this book seem to be the favourite characters of many readers, and young Olivia, in my first novel Without a Backward Glance, is another of these intelligent, self-sufficient young people, who, I have to say, I love dearly. Teenagers so often get an undeserved bad rap, both in mainstream media and in fiction, and non-fiction, books by adults. When you say <they sound like authentic kids, not some grownup's idea of kids>, I feel a warm glow of pride! Can I ask you, did the level of swearing surprise you, or any other readers? It's caused some comment on US blogs, but that may be from conservative readers. Australians middle class white Australians, like the family in this novel do tend to swear more than their American counterparts.
. (wickett) Thu 19 Aug 10 21:44
Sticking it out for twenty years or so, and then it all goes kablooey?
. (wickett) Thu 19 Aug 10 21:44
Oops, the author slipt.
Kate Veitch (kate-veitch) Thu 19 Aug 10 22:38
Inserting myself here into the conversation about the book group, with Harmless Drudge (welcome, Harmless Drudge, delighted to make your acquaintance, and thanks especially for your comments on Gerry who would SO HATE to be called a bimbo!) and Wickett, re <The book discussion in this book, a discussion, in fact, of another of your books. It is very tempting to look at that discussion for clues on how to think about this book. It's where Jean passes judgment on the woman who walks out on her family: "She had no stickability." Jean values stickability, and Susanna is Jean's good daughter. I am inclined to think that this story is about what it's like when one does stick it out. Does this seem reasonable to you?> A couple of Australian reviewers made the parallel between the two books, and I must say I think it's a perceptive and perfectly reasonable one to draw. However, it was not in my mind when I wrote that scene about the book group. Apart from having fun with saying dismissive things about my own work, my intent was to elucidate Jean's character: why she became the sort of person she is, ie someone whose options for education and career were limited by the era she grew up in, and why she is inclined to be rather judgmental, especially of her younger daughter. Myself, I'm interested in people's actions and their consequences, but not in making judgments about the wrongness or rightness of those actions. Does that make sense? Or were you asking something a bit different?
Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (peoples) Fri 20 Aug 10 08:40
> Can I ask you, did the level of [teen] swearing surprise you It seemed pretty normal to me, judging by what I hear muttered by the American kids (ages around 12-14) who walk past my house every day on their way to and home from the junior high school a block away. But perhaps others have a different experience, obviously I can only answer for myself. Kate, in the Saturday Age piece on your book (http://www.kateveitch.com/downloads/trust_age_220510.pdf -- nice review, by the way!), reviewer Jo Case writes: "A journey of self-discovery and reinvention is at the heart of this novel, as is fairly standard for 'hen lit' ... But what's really refreshing about 'Trust' is that this heroine's transformation doesn't involve a new wardrobe, an exotic holiday or even a new man." I've never heard "hen lit" before but immediately understood it to be a term defining safe, comfortable storylines aimed at the middle-aged nesting female. Sort of like chick lit, but a slightly more mature audience. I know you; I know you didn't calculate your plot to satisfy a particular readers' market, Kate, but it seems that people still want to classify your work as if you had, even though your work rises well above the formulaic. Have you had to struggle with publishers and/or editors to keep from getting boxed in as a formula writer? Have advertising efforts been aimed at a "hen lit" audience rather than reaching for a broader range?
Pamela McCorduck (pamela) Fri 20 Aug 10 10:42
Peeps, may I jump in and say that every author gets boxed in by his or her editors--if not boxed in, certainly classified. You hate it; you can't see why you have to endure it; but it's never-ending. Finally you just write past it and, in terms of future publication, hope for the best. Yes, the self-discovery was not the formulaic new wardrobe/man/MBA, but Susanna pulling something out of herself that had been there all along, occluded by a deep wish to be agreeable to others. These horrors that form her art are not agreeable in the least, but they drive her art ("inform" seems too anodyne) and that's profound. Very funny scene, btw, where the TV crew arrives and she's in hand-me-down trousers, way out of style, and a horrible blouse she only uses for painting. Finally, the teens swearing--I'm sorry to say I didn't even notice it, it seemed so natural.
. (wickett) Fri 20 Aug 10 11:38
What about Gerry's "occluded" sexuality? He, too, was driven. He also had been effectively lied to for twenty years by his non-orgasmic wife.
Kate Veitch (kate-veitch) Fri 20 Aug 10 14:59
Cynthia, your question: <Have you had to struggle with publishers and/or editors to keep from getting boxed in as a formula writer? Have advertising efforts been aimed at a "hen lit" audience rather than reaching for a broader range?> In fact, I've been very happy with how my Australian publishers (check out the striking red cover on my website) have presented my novels. The "box" they've got me in is what's called "quality commercial fiction", rather than the dreaded chick lit or (hideous term) hen lit. AND -- I have had the benefit of a gifted, supportive editor. Critical response, in the form of serious and positive reviews in pretty much all the important newspaper and journals (yay!) has reflected this. In the US, amid the tsunami of books released each week, it's been almost impossible to create a ripp;e. Plus, there's a definite of dismissiveness in the US toward books which have been released staright into paperback: they're assumed to have been not good enough to warrant a hardback release. And serious reviewers won't even glance at them. This had never even occurred to me as being a potential problem, since in Australia it's very rare for ANY book to be released in hardback. Finances in our small population just don't permit it. A paperback here in Oz btw costs the same as a hardback in the US. Sorry, I've wandered a bit from Cynthia's question. I guess there's one term that blog reviewers (amateurs) have used which irritates me more than anything else, and that's "soap opera". Lazy term, and always a "boo" word used to be dismissive about stories which concern families. What do you, esteemed Inkwellers, think of that term "soap opera", and why?
Kate Veitch (kate-veitch) Fri 20 Aug 10 15:01
Pamela, love that get the humour of scenes like <where the TV crew arrives and she's in hand-me-down trousers, way out of style, and a horrible blouse she only uses for painting. I did have a lot of fun writing little bits like that, and there's lots in the interaction between the teenagers, or course.
Kate Veitch (kate-veitch) Fri 20 Aug 10 15:13
Wickett, good on you for bringing up the issue of sexuality: that Gerry had been <effectively lied to for twenty years by his non-orgasmic wife.> Susanna isn't entirely non-orgasmic, but she's got into the lazy habit of, quite often, pretending to have reached orgasm when she hasn't. She's never thought of this as lying, just another instance of being agreeable, making her husband feel good (better perhaps than he deserves.) This is the essence of the "married sex" that this couple has been having for a loooong time. Gerry doesn't mind because it's a private justification for having his little "adventures" off-site, and Susanna doesn't mind it because ... well, a good wife doesn't DEMAND more ... and she also, chronically, puts herself last. In being so reflexively "good", and not only in the area of sex, Susanna's in fact done no favours either to her self or her husband.
Kate Veitch (kate-veitch) Fri 20 Aug 10 15:17
Oops, shd've proofread before pressing POST. Sorry abt all the typos, peeps! It's Saturday morning here and I gotta scurry off and VOTE! The time diff presents some challenges to our conversation, but I'm enjoying it; trust you are too.
Pamela McCorduck (pamela) Fri 20 Aug 10 15:27
Kate slipped, and you'll see below that I saw Susanna in bed as Kate apparently intended. But before that: Besides being amusing, that scene (of being caught by the TV crew in bad old clothes) was actually thought-provoking. Old Feminism held that to pay attention to such things as your appearance was bad, bourgeois, unenlightened, whatever. But the truth is, self-presentation has always been important to human beings. It isn't just vanity (though of course it can be); it's very much how we live and have our being in a human world. Susanna's lying tacitly to her husband by faking her orgasms struck me as another way of her wanting to be agreeable. But since she'd never even considered giving him a blowjob, he had the right to some complaints of his own, as <wickett> points out. It may be his private justification for his infidelities, but to me, it's arguably a valid one.
. (wickett) Fri 20 Aug 10 16:22
Susanna was hardly agreeable by refusing blow jobs and she definitely put herself first by allowing her disinclination to leave Gerry pining (or partially unsatisfied) for two decades. In this as in many other areas, theirs was a comfortable marriage, but not one of personal mutuality or much intimacy. Secrets, not just the sexual ones, gradually accreted until there were too many secrets for the edifice to withstand the assaults.
Kate Veitch (kate-veitch) Fri 20 Aug 10 21:11
Thanks to both of you, Wickett and Pamela, for getting the fact that I see both characters, Gerry and Susanna, as having responsibility for where their marriage ends up. Mind you, part of the problem is that they're both very good at only recognising the parts of themselves that are acceptable to their own self-image. Susanna I see as some one who has been under the sway of stronger personalities than her own, all her life. First her mother Jean, then her husband, Gerry. Her way to survive these "benevolent dictators" has been through compliance rather than defiance, but she has her ways, often unconscious, of maintaining differentiation as Wickett points out. I have wondered if her devotion to her younger sister Angie was perhaps a "good girl" way of defying her mother, as well as sibling affection. "Modern tormented families" love 'em! (Though writing about the really curly bits is more fun than living 'em...)
Kate Veitch (kate-veitch) Fri 20 Aug 10 21:16
Oh, I should point out, too, that Gerry didn't exactly press his suit in terms of getting more adventurous, sexually, with his wife. Generally, he's not averse to pushing to get his way so, why didn't he push harder with Susanna in bed? One request for a blowjob, never repeated once it was brushed off: that's either a wimp, or a guy who's hitting the high spots elsewhere. Don't you reckon?
Linda Castellani (castle) Sat 21 Aug 10 04:38
Sorry to reply so late, Kate, but in response to your question about why I felt drawn to JeeJee's character, I gave it some thought and came up with: because she's constant. I'm glad that somebody brought up the scene with the book club where the assigned book was your first one! I thought that was a scream. Was it hard to write that kind of dialog about yourself? Oh, and I have a tiny little nit. Or maybe a red herring. When I read the part where Susannah burned the...what was it?...in the bucket outside, I wondered when the fires were going to start, and for a while there, I expected you to draw a connection between the two, and I wondered if Susannah was somehow instrumental in starting them.
. (wickett) Sat 21 Aug 10 04:45
Not necessarily. To make an intimate request is to be exposed and vulnerable, not feelings Gerry welcomed. If the rejection had been incredulous, the import would have been clear. Gerry didn't seem to travel all that often, and I can't imagine that he scored each time, so, in my view, he was rather restrained and protective of his family.
. (wickett) Sat 21 Aug 10 04:47
Now Castle slipt!
die die must try (debbie) Sat 21 Aug 10 04:52
Hi Kate - I'm an american living in Australia - Sydney for a couple of years and just now Melbourne. I haven't read Trust, but after reading this I'll have to check it out. (meanwhile I'm listening to election results and trying to understand AFL )
Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (peoples) Sat 21 Aug 10 08:07
> trying to understand AFL heh... reminds me of an Aussie friend who visited me in the States in the latter part of the 1970s. He was used to Aussie rules football, where you don't use your hands to move the ball down the field, you use your feet. He was watching an American football game when kicker Tom Dempsey came onto the field to kick a goal. My friend scratched his head and said, "Ya know, this American football is really wierd. You call it FOOTball, but the players use their hands to move the ball down the field. And when a guy finally shows up to kick the ball he doesn't even _have__ a proper foot!" (Kate, that was Phillip) ***************** Football aside, I wanted to ask about the Australian elections, Kate. You wrote: > ... we use a preferential voting system, which means that if the party you marked as your first choice doesn't win the seat, your second choice will be counted. Thus, I can vote for the Green Party candidate in my electorate, and although they are unlikely to win the seat, this registers support for their policies. Then, my second preference, for the Labor Party candidate, will count. < This seems like such a logical way to conduct an election, Kate. In the States, as you know, our voting process is black and white -- you vote for one candidate only in a given race. No way to express the subtleties of "well, I'd most like A to win, but if not A, B would be a much better choice than N." I'd think that this preferential voting system would influence the politicians who win to look closely at the tally of the other candidates, and try to incorporate some of the views into the governing. Like, if Labor wins but Green pulls 15 percent of the vote, Labor would want to give special attention to some of Green's platform in order to win over that 15 percent. Does it work that way?
. (wickett) Sat 21 Aug 10 12:15
Sounds pretty sane and desirable to me, Cynthia. Curious, too, if it works that way in Australia.
Barry Warren Polley (barryp) Sat 21 Aug 10 14:05
It didn't yesterday. A relatively small advance by the Greens destroyed the majority of the current Government, and therefore Mr Abbott's assertion that its legitimacy is also lost must alas be considered. (With the additional negative outcome for those of us on the other side of the Tasman: we'll have to put up with Mr Abbott in our media for awhile longer.)
die die must try (debbie) Sat 21 Aug 10 15:22
but, it seems to me, both labor and liberals now have to court the green and the independents to try and get them to vote with the coalition or w labor, so that is good. From what I'm hearing, they are still counting ballots. I'm curious Kate about how you got your very first novel published - did you write the whole book and then send it out? did you have an agent? how does it all work?
Kate Veitch (kate-veitch) Sat 21 Aug 10 16:24
Quite a few diverse topics here! First, I'll offer a few words about the Australian election but only a few, because I feel so ill at the possibility that the odious Tony Abbott could become PM. Yes, counting is continuing, and it's highly likely that as <die die must try> says, "both labor and liberals now have to court the green and the independents" in order to form a government. (Note to US readers: remember that the Liberal Party is actually our conservative party, and they long ago formed a "coalition" with an even more conservative party, the Nationals). The vote for the Greens has almost doubled from the last election in 2007 (from 7% to close to 12%), and most of this increase has come from former Labor voters. This SHOULD tell the Labor Party that they lost support because, after becoming elected, they did not follow through on things like climate change and a more humane policy toward refugees. But will that happen, or will they just get bitter about the Greens having "stolen" their voters? The increase in votes for the conservative parties (Liberal/National coalition) was quite small, under 2%. It's the swing AWAY from Labor that's brought them undone. But despite the fact that a more conservative government may take over from Labor, the take-home message should be that the Australian electorate has become LESS conservative, not more. Okay, back to fiction ...
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