Kate Veitch (kate-veitch) Sat 21 Aug 10 16:35
But first, I must declare that AFL (Australian Football League) football, also known as Aussie Rules or just plain footie, is without a doubt the best and most thrilling game in the world. The players are the fittest, buffest specimens of blokedom you have ever laid eyes on, and what's more they wear tiny little shorts and sleeveless jumpers. The eye appeal, I assure you, is out of this world. The centre of the Aussie Rules universe is Melbourne, where both my partner Phillip and I grew up, and I am delighted for <die die must try> that she has this opportunity to dwell in the heartland. Growing up with Aussie Rules completely ruins you for any other sport. The weekly newspaper the Melbourne Times has three footie columnists, two male and one female, and the page on which they thrash out their opinions is headed, "Religion". Amen.
Linda Castellani (castle) Sat 21 Aug 10 16:45
Hmm. I wonder if any of the many cable channels I get carries AFL.
Kate Veitch (kate-veitch) Sat 21 Aug 10 17:16
Linda, I'll ask Phillip to post on that.
Kate Veitch (kate-veitch) Sat 21 Aug 10 17:20
BTW - as I'm still on my trainer wheels with Inkwell, please everybody, do feel free to give me tips and pointers, eg I still haven't got the log-in name vs. pseud thing down, so, apologies if I mis-address anybody, and do let me know, eh?
Kate Veitch (kate-veitch) Sat 21 Aug 10 17:32
Now then, where was I? Oh yes, Linda asked about "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?" Glad you enjoyed that scene, I had a lot of fun writing it! When you ask if it was hard to write, I guess you're asking if it was hard to write put-downs about my own first novel, right? The answer is, no, not at all. In fact I stole most of those comments from reviews on sites like Goodreads and Amazon, which btw are much more used in the US than in Australia. Some of them were so inane they were ... amusing. Or at least, I found them amusing. I guess if I hadn't got such excellent reviews in Australia, from all the major papers and journals, I might not have been quite so sanguine.
Harmless drudge (ckridge) Sat 21 Aug 10 17:39
Kate, this novel has a kind of false happy ending, in which Gerry and Susanna work out some substantial part of their problems with sexuality, only to reveal much worse problems behind them, problems that eventually break the marriage. Why did you write it that way? The effect on me was of the narrator saying "You think this is the problem, don't you, and that this is one of those books in which good sex fixes everything? Nope. I could do it that way, but, look, sex is not the real problem here." That seemed interesting and appropriate to me. However, it left me wondering why, if they could get (mostly) past the sex troubles, they couldn't get past this next conflict too. It seemed like if things had bounced just a little differently, Gerry might have taken this next step too. Is this my own idiosyncratic take, or did you have something like this in mind when you told the story this way? It certainly looks like you had designs; you tell it like a basketball player faking one way and then going another.
Kate Veitch (kate-veitch) Sat 21 Aug 10 17:45
Wickett, I'm really pleased to have somebody sticking up for Gerry. "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." I like the guy, myself. You may be interested to know that my sainted editor made me do a lot of work to "warm" the character of Gerry up. This was also the case with the my first book, with the character of Rose, the mother was walks out on her family. I thought she was quite likable and her reasons for doing a runner were perfectly understandable, yet (as per those reviews on Goodreads and Amazon) even after the warming-up work, a lot of readers found her behaviour "unforgivable". I guess my tolerance level for questionable behaviour must be pretty high!
Kate Veitch (kate-veitch) Sat 21 Aug 10 17:51
Will get back to <ckridge>'s interesting question about the "false happy ending", and <debbie>'s (who I think i was miscalling earlier by her pseud - sorry 'bout that!) about how I got started with novel-writing, at the other end of the day. Meantime, the sun is out, the sky is blue, and despite the unsettled political situation, I've got a compost heap to build!
die die must try (debbie) Sun 22 Aug 10 02:12
well if/when I move from Sydney to Melbourne, I'll have to embrace Aussie Rules, but I have to say I find League players to be sort of stocky buff and also they wear short shorts, and the manly sea eagles are pretty darn hot.
Kate Veitch (kate-veitch) Sun 22 Aug 10 04:16
Compost heap built, I'm back. Australian election result will take some days to be finally resolved, but I have to say it's been hard to take my mind off it all day. Me and millions of other Australians ... But to return to the wonderful world of fiction (sternly refusing, Debbie, to get diverted by a debate about the relative buffness of Aussie Rules players vs Rugby League) ... <ckridge>, who comments that "this novel has a kind of false happy ending, in which Gerry and Susanna work out some substantial part of their problems with sexuality, only to reveal much worse problems behind them" -- I do love this notion of a false happy ending, kind of like a "false positive" in a medical test. Why did I write it this way? To tell the truth, I didn't know what the ending was going to be until I got there. I had high hopes of Gerry and Susanna being able to resolve their problems and go on to have that rare thing, a truly successful marriage. And you know what? I think it's possible that if the blow-up had happened another ten years down the track, when Gerry would be in his sixties, it might have been possible. Might. But alas, Gerry at 53 is still too competitive. It's really a huge part of his nature, that competitiveness; because if it, he feels that if he's not beating someone, then he's losing. (The fact that his business partner Marcus is gay is one of the reasons they've been able to be friends and partners for three decades: Marcus never competed with him for women.) Susanna has let him "win" in a thousand small (and a good few large) ways throughout their marriage, which has lessened the danger of conflict but not reduced Gerry's urge to compete and win. It became clear to me as I wrote that it was not Gerry's infidelity that was going to prove the insurmountable problem to the survival, let alone success, of their marriage, but his competitiveness. Similarly, it was not Susanna's lack of sexual adventurousness, but the fact that she could no longer deny her artistic and creative impulse. Darn it. I wish good sex COULD fix everything!
Kate Veitch (kate-veitch) Sun 22 Aug 10 04:35
Now, to <Debbie's> earlier curiosity about how I got started as a novelist: "did you write the whole book and then send it out? did you have an agent?" Yes, I did write the whole book (my first novel, published in Aust in 2006 as "Listen" and in the US in 08 as "Without a Backward Glance". I'd taken myself off to Bali for 5 months in 04 after a truly horrible year in which my marriage ended, my father's worsening dementia had caused him to be hospitalised, and my dog died. Having had the idea for the novel a year before, but been too preoccupied to write anything at all, I wrote the entire 80,000 word first draft during that stay in Bali. Then, I sent the entire manuscript to three different agents. The first one hated it, in detail; the second one sent a polite refusal; the third totally adored it. I did a second draft, and my agent (it was such a thrill to be able to say "my agent"!) offered it to Penguin (who are btw a much bigger publisher in Aust than in the US) and they snapped it up. Everything that's never meant to happen with a first novel, happened with that book. I had astonishing good luck. I also had good writing genes: both my parents were journalists, and my younger brother's first book (non-fiction) came out the same month as mine did. We even got to interview each other onstage at the Melbourne Writers Festival, which was a hoot. And my second novel? A classic case of "second novel syndrome": incredibly difficult to write. If it weren't for my sainted editor, I would have thrown in the towel and gone for something easier, like training to be a brain surgeon.
die die must try (debbie) Sun 22 Aug 10 04:43
wow, fascinating! thanks.
Harmless drudge (ckridge) Sun 22 Aug 10 07:21
How interesting that you found out how it was going to go by writing it. And I see about Gerry's competitiveness. His daughter has a piece of it, the drive, and it gives you a sense of how big the whole thing must be. He just couldn't stand that Susanna should win two in a row.
Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (peoples) Sun 22 Aug 10 07:32
> [Australian Rules Football] ... players are the fittest, buffest specimens of blokedom you have ever laid eyes on, and what's more they wear tiny little shorts and sleeveless jumpers. The eye appeal, I assure you, is out of this world. < Absolutely, both on: http://www.newlyold.com/images/australian-football-rules-high-mark-fly1.jpg and off the field!: http://www.hotmen.ws/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/Brodie-Holland-16.jpg When I lived in Australia I was too busy with other things in my life to pay attention to Aussie football, but I can definitely see the appeal now. heh heh Kate, I'm intrigued by the possible differences an author might encounter between writing a first and a second novel, particularly when your debut as a novelist comes in your 50s, not your 20s or 30s. I mention the age thing because I kinda assume that aspects of the first novel would have percolated in your bones for years, whereas the the second novel wouldn't have had a lifetime to develop. (or maybe authors carry many unwritten novels in their heads, just waiting their turn to be put onto the page, I could be totally wrong) Anyway, you wrote: > To tell the truth, I didn't know what the ending [of "Trust"] was going > to be until I got there. And did the ending you gave it surprise you? Did you at any point try to force it to go a different way and find that you couldn't? There are authors who carefully plot out every inch of their story -- essentially story-boarding their book -- and then create the text following the guide. You say you didn't know where "Trust" would take you at the conclusion until you reached it. Was it the same process writing "Listen" (later published in the US as "Without a Backward Glance")? And if it was different, in what ways?
. (wickett) Sun 22 Aug 10 08:39
Fascinating, indeed, all of it. Nice mention of Bali and its spur to creative juices, both for you and for Stella-Jean. I was disappointed with the ending, not because good sex couldn't fix the problem, but because both partners opted for what I consider ephemera. Susanna's art show arose from the depths during crisis: could she continue to draw from that well? I'm not so sure. She was worryingly entranced and unsteadied by good press. Gerry needed to knock down some pins, almost any pins. So he knocked down a comfortable marriage with a shot at becoming a good marriage. Understandable, given his needs, but sad. I opened the book at random last evening to page 159 and there were some of the shortcomings that would have had to be dealt with in order for the marriage continue. Difficult work. "And it's true: I [Susanna] am an honest person. She liked that her husband had said that. The fact that she had neglected to tell him about the visit from Angie, or the talk with Stella-Jean about Finn, or that she'd put her name down for a studio, did not occur to her. Nor did it strike her an an instance of possible dishonesty that she had just, for the umpteenth time, faked an orgasm."
Kate Veitch (kate-veitch) Sun 22 Aug 10 14:54
Taking <Wickett>'s comment first: I guess the thing is, I like writing about flawed people. Hell, I like flawed people! Susanna has spent so much of her life focused on being "good": good daughter, wife, mother, sister, teacher, and fails to see her flaws. But I rather think we all prefer to see ourselves as better people than we are: kinder, or cleverer, or more talented; better-looking, or more environmentally aware. It's that thing I mentioned some days ago, of how the gaps in our lives are what fascinate me. However, I will say in Susanna's defence that I don't think she's "worryingly entranced and unsteadied by good press". More gobsmacked, I'd have thought, by the luck of the publicity that chanced her way and which was necessary, in terms of plot, to arouse Gerry's competitiveness and dislike of being "beaten". Here's one of those odd details which may interest readers: I modelled the TV show, "Arts Week" on an actual show in Australia ("Sunday Arts") of which my multi-talented younger brother Michael was the "debonair host". Only a few days after I wrote the scene in which, because of a sudden cancellation, the Arts Week reporter and producer come to Studio Lulu and see Susanna's work, I met a young woman who, upon learning that Michael is my brother, volunteered the fact that a few months earlier, because of a sudden cancellation, a community arts project of which she'd been the co-ordinator was featured on Arts Sunday, and the resultant publicity had made the event a much bigger success than expected and led directly to her being offered her current job. True story! I'd be very interested to know whether other readers share Wickett's doubts about whether Susanna will be able to continue to make art, or whether her "well" of creativity would dry up once her life crisis was over?
Kate Veitch (kate-veitch) Sun 22 Aug 10 15:05
Cynthia, I have to smile at your observation that "There are authors who carefully plot out every inch of their story -- essentially story-boarding their book -- and then create the text following the guide." I DID that with "Trust". In fact, I did it several times. This novel explored such wildly different directions, characters, and resolutions, you would not believe. Time and again I had to carve off whole sections, tens of thousands of words, and take it back to the central core. These characters led me up many a dark and shadowy byway, and assumed many a different guise, before I finally figured out who they are and what their story is. With my first novel, the characters were much better behaved. It wasn't that it had been "percolating in my bones for years", just that they stayed on track. BUT I still didn't know how that book was going to end, either, until I got close.
Kate Veitch (kate-veitch) Sun 22 Aug 10 15:21
And thanks Cynthia for the footie pix you posted. The high mark is one of the most spectacular aspects of Aussie Rules. Here's a clip which is kind of over-the-top but then, so's the game! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_hqosNvv5E BTW, it's also a sport in which indigenous players feature strongly, as you'll possibly note when watching.
Linda Castellani (castle) Sun 22 Aug 10 16:41
> I'd be very interested to know whether other readers share Wickett's > doubts about whether Susanna will be able to continue to make art, or > whether her "well" of creativity would dry up once her life crisis was > over? My thought is that Susanna's well of creativity has been blocked for so long, that now that the top has been blown off the well, everything that has been kept so tightly tamped down is suddenly going to come shooting out. I think her art now defines her, and continually allows her to support herself in a way that she might have wanted Gerry to do before. Also, she's going to meet someone who adores her, thinks she's the most talented artist on the planet, loves her kids, builds her a great studio, has great friends who love her, too, and enjoys how much others enjoy her work. Now you know. So, to get back to the comment I made about the fires, and how I felt confused about whether or not Susanna had anything to do with starting them. Was that classic misdirection, or...?
. (wickett) Sun 22 Aug 10 17:14
Cool! I was stopped short by those fires, too, Linda, especially since my husband and I were both burned out in the 1991 Oakland-Berkeley firestorm. I thought it astonishingly self-absorbed and foolish of Susanna to start a backyard fire during such dangerous weather simply to destroy the nudes she rejected of her middle-aged self. She was subsequently so disconnected that she didn't understand the commotion as the ICU was preparing for burn victims.
Linda Castellani (castle) Sun 22 Aug 10 17:38
Yes, exactly. Maybe the fires were a metaphor. They were burning all around them, and they could see the smoke, but the damage was yet to be revealed. Or, perhaps I'm smoking crack and I don't know what I'm talking about!
Kate Veitch (kate-veitch) Sun 22 Aug 10 22:03
Castle, so sorry I had not responded to your pertinent question about the fires. I really REALLY like Wickett's take on it: it is indeed a measure of how unhinged Susanna is by what's gone on that she would do something so loopy as to burn ANYTHING on a day like that. But burning her own self-portraits is indeed a form of self-destruction -- and I have a feeling that she had to destroy those images in order to crash through to something she'd never allowed expression of before. So sorry to learn you were burnt out by the California fires of 91, Wickett. How terrible and sudden that destruction is. When the Black Saturday fires happened near Melbourne in Feb 09, I was in northern New South Wales, a thousand miles away, but I felt so close because it's my home town. I had already planned the exact date of the novel's car accident, and seriously considered abandoning the entire novel when the fires happened. With nearly 200 people killed, many thousands of homes lost, countless wildlife -- my own characters and the tragedy I had manufactured just seemed so ... trivial. But instead I found a way to incorporate the terrible real events, I hope respectfully. And Castle -- love YOUR take on Susanna's future creativity, not to mention life!
Richard Blue (rje) Mon 23 Aug 10 06:48
Am enjoying the discussion- haven't read the book yet but it's on my list of things to buy come next paycheck- but I'm a Melbournian and am intruigued by the discussion of footballers as a riff from the whole aussie-bloke-as-chauvinist-bastard thing given that no one's mentioned the seemingly endless series of recent scandals involving footballers behaving in the kind of fashion which helped give rise to that myth in the first instance. There have been a distrubingly large number of rape/sexual assault allegations and charges over the past few eyars, including a high profile case currently unfolding in the Melbourne courts, not to mention footballers appearing drunk on television (am thinking of Fev, who was infamously caught on camera unrinating in public following A Night Out With The Boys) and then there are all the tv shows, especially those involving Sam Newman. While such antics are not representative of all men the whole macho bloke in blue singlet thing is still pretty dominant in mainstream media- I was wondering if you had any thoughts Kate as to why that particualar meme is still so popular? Oh:here's a clip of Fev doing interviews at the last Bronlow (its a live-to-air televised best of fairest awards night for the AFL which, for reasons I have never quite understood, has Oscar type status) which is something of a contrast to the previously posted footage of the footballers in playing mode- has a bit of swearing, though: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AX2z71kd_Ac And Fev's antics, while not usally televised, are usually associated with drunk blokes, especially the random shouting bits.
Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (peoples) Mon 23 Aug 10 07:44
That clip <rje> points us to is largely un-understandable (to the American ear) because of the heavy accents, intensified by the slurry diction. Reminds me of when I first moved to Australia, I quickly discovered that answering the phone was potential mine field. I remember putting the phone to my ear and saying "hello" only to get: g'dai. zz-fi'p 'eh? Multiple repetitions did me no good. I had no idea what I was hearing. Only later did I learn that the person on the other end of the phone was saying "good day, is Phillip there?" But that's just a sidetrack. More interesting to me is that footie and the players seem to be getting a whole lot more press, flashy press, than was the norm back in the early '70s when I lived in Australia. If I recall correctly, Aussie football players didn't make a living playing the game. They were car salesmen and bricklayers and such during the week; the sport was weekend passtime. Looks like these days, footie has taken on a whole new status and is perhaps providing generous incomes for the teams. Is that true, Kate? Has footie gone Big Business?
Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (peoples) Mon 23 Aug 10 07:51
Oh, and also, do you think Aussie football players are ruder and cruder than their non-player peers? Or is their reputation that <rje> speaks of an artifact of an over-the-top kind of media attention that makes everything they do end up examined microscopically?
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