inkwell.vue.390 : Kate Veitch, Trust
permalink #151 of 186: Kate Veitch (kate-veitch) Sat 28 Aug 10 17:03
    
The population of the US is about 10 times that of Australia's, but I
suspect 100 times more Americans than Australians have acquired an MFA
and are bound and determined to have a book published, even if they
have to do so themselves. There are literally THOUSANDS of new titles
released in the States every week. There is less and less space for
book reviews in the mainstream media, and what there is is taken up by
non-fiction and the handful of "big name" fiction writers.  

Thus, authors are expected to do all the shameless self-promotion
thing to try and get some kind of "buzz" going: start a fan page on
Facebook, cajole friends into post reviews on Amazon and attending
readings, and – increasingly important – talk about the book online. 

Oh and I should mention that one thing I didn't understand until after
my first book came out in the US is that to be taken seriously, a
novel must have a hardback release. It makes no sense, and it's
certainly not the case in Australia, but it's a fact that in the US a
book published straight into paperback is assumed to be inferior, like
a film that goes straight to video (or DVD). Plume, my US publisher,
only publishes in paperback. Darn!


Cynthia asks "if its so dreadful to promote yourself in Australia, how
have your
books seen any publicity down under, Kate?"

Well, I've been well supported by my publisher (and Penguin is a MUCH
bigger player here than in the US) and I've been lucky. Both my books
have been fantastically well reviewed in the Australian mainstream
media; you can skim those reviews if you're curious on my website,
www.kateveitch.com, under the "About the Books" pages. With "Trust"
(which btw has a very striking red cover here) Penguin also shelled
for, eg, big illuminated posters at airport bookstores, at nine major
Australian airport locations.

In the US, even though my first novel had managed to get a handful of
excellent mainstream media reviews, the second one has been met with a
resounding silence. Two online reviews, both of which used that
irritating term "soap opera". Book bloggers are now regarded by US
publishers as the great publicity hope, and there certainly are a
plethora of people blogging about books out there, most of them badly.

Just a couple more points of difference before I get on with the flow:

Australian authors don't "go on book tour", that peculiar form of
torture which, it's hoped, will create a personal relationship between
author and bookseller, leading to handselling, word of mouth, and the
holy grail of "buzz". If you want to read a terrific and accurate and
very funny piece about the horrors of book tour, google Ann Patchett
Atlantic My Life in Sales.

We DO have a phenomenomal number of very big and successful Writers
Festivals here in Australia, which are really festivals for writers AND
READERS. Very different, with their crowds and camarederie, to
anything I've seen or heard about in the US.

And, can I just mention that books cost twice as much here as in the
US, and the royalty rates are higher. I earn $3 for every Australian
copy of Trust sold, and a bit over $1 for every American copy. And out
of my US earnings I have to pay two agents' fees rather than one, and
get taxed twice. Eesh.
  
inkwell.vue.390 : Kate Veitch, Trust
permalink #152 of 186: Kate Veitch (kate-veitch) Sat 28 Aug 10 17:09
    
I just want to backtrack a tad to #128, and Coleman's lovely comment:
"Childhood is a place where
one deals with giants and talking animals -- that is, adults and other
children -- every day."

Wonderful!
  
inkwell.vue.390 : Kate Veitch, Trust
permalink #153 of 186: Kate Veitch (kate-veitch) Sat 28 Aug 10 17:26
    
Now then, "the flow" – and welcome to <robertflink> and his comment
#149. Interesting, the analogy with jazz.

I am indeed more interested in working with plot and character,
exploring life and relationships through them, than in creating the
literary equivalent of riffs. In order to maintain flow – when a reader
will say, as they often do of both my novels, "I couldn't put it down"
– I have to strip out most of the flourishes, the carefully crafted
similes and analogies. It's the opposite of what I've come to call (to
myself) MFA writing, which now dominates the higher end of the American
literary scene. 

And <robertflink> is exactly right, that this "can keep us from
exploring the eddies and backwaters of a
stream including a narrative stream." That's the downside of flow,
sure enough: people read it TOO quickly.

But he also makes, if I'm reading his comment accurately, the common
assumption of those who prefer the riffs, that it "takes more talent to
weave them in". I would say: not more talent, but rather a different
intention, and just as much talent to fulfill that intention
successfully.

As Nathaniel Hawthorne said "Easy reading is damn hard writing".

Your opinion, fellow conversationalists?
  
inkwell.vue.390 : Kate Veitch, Trust
permalink #154 of 186: . (wickett) Sat 28 Aug 10 19:13
    

Hmmm.  Not in the case of that Dan Brown.  I picked up one of his books in 
the middle, identified the killer, and skimmed it to the end without 
finding a memorable sentence after the first in the book (which had 
previously been read aloud to me) or an interesting character.

I'm a slow reader on purpose and I read _Trust_ slowly.  I put it
down before Jean decided to pick up the children.  I didn't want to be
hurried.  I am not so interested in what happens next that I would rush 
through enjoyable writing.  

Then, again, I don't read much fiction, because I don't find it 
particularly satisfying.  Books may begin well or have an interesting 
middle, but the strands tend to fray before the end.  

I would object equally to self-conscious "riffs" as to poor writing, 
indifferent plotting, or inadequate character development.

I will keep my copy of _Trust_ and probably loan it to a friend.  
That is saying something, as I rather brutally cull my books and recently 
took hardback copies of modern fiction to the secondhand shop for credit.  I 
don't think it's a perfect book and I, firmly committed to an examined 
life, very much regretted Susanna's and Gerry decision not to take the 
hard next step towards intimacy.  
  
inkwell.vue.390 : Kate Veitch, Trust
permalink #155 of 186: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (peoples) Sun 29 Aug 10 07:47
    

> "Easy reading is damn hard writing"

Haven't read any Dan Brown, so I have no idea about his work, wickett. 
However, I understand what Kate means with that quote. It goes hand in
hand with the quote attributed to everybody from Samuel Johnson to
Thoreau about brevity in writing: "I would have made it shorter but
I have not had the time." It's a lot easier to ramble and be wordy
than to boil things down to graceful succinctness.

In "Trust," Kate, Gerry and Sussana head a middle class family that's
feeling the pinch of the global economic downturn. Yet there's no 
mention at all about the financial strain of medical bills accumulating
after the accident. I know Australia has a health care system, but surely
there are some big co-pays issues the family will be facing. How can they
afford this?
  
inkwell.vue.390 : Kate Veitch, Trust
permalink #156 of 186: Kate Veitch (kate-veitch) Sun 29 Aug 10 14:41
    
I'll just say a few words about wickett's expressed regret about
"Susanna's and Gerry decision not to take the 
hard next step towards intimacy". 

We've talked a bit about this before, but there's one more aspect to
Gerry's personality that stands in the way of his being able to take
that step, and that is his addiction to secrecy. Knowing things that
other people don't gives him (although he's not consciously aware of
this) the feeling of having the competitive edge. In a way, the fact
that his sexual adventures were secret was just as important to him as
the adventures themselves.

I tried to seed little examples of Gerry's protecting his private
knowledge (or some would say, Gerry's telling fibs or outright lies)
throughout the novel. The morning conversation with Seb, full of
genuine paternal love, when he tells his son that he didn't start
having sex with girls till he was 19, and then we learn about his
actual and very adventurous teenage sex life – all secret.  

Gerry telling the developer's entourage on the boat an embroidered
story of how he'd arrived at the design for the High Plains Centre.
Gerry trying to make Marcus lie for him about a "change of hotel rooms"
on the night the crash happened. Gerry, when finally corralled into
talking about his sexual partners in a session with Susanna and the
therapist, deliberately saying that the woman he'd been with that night
in New York was an architect from Chicago named Susan something – yet,
did readers notice, in their flash dinner together much later, Gerry's
holding forth to Susanna about the accolades being showered on him
from Canada, and a likely offer of work from there? Who do we think
this might have come from?

To take "that hard next stop into intimacy" means that Gerry would
have to give up, not only his sexual adventures, but the lifelong habit
of secrecy, and the sense of superiority that's given him. It is
indeed regrettable, for Gerry himself as much as anyone because it
means he cuts himself off from living an examined life, but I think
it's just not in his repertoire.
  
inkwell.vue.390 : Kate Veitch, Trust
permalink #157 of 186: Kate Veitch (kate-veitch) Sun 29 Aug 10 15:14
    
Now to Cynthia's raising of a quite different issue: money and health
care – see #155 – and the fact that in this middle-class family which
is feeling the pinch of what is most often referred to in Australia as
"the GFC" which stands for Global Financial Crisis, there is yet "no 
mention at all about the financial strain of medical bills
accumulating
after the accident. I know Australia has a health care system, but
surely
there are some big co-pays issues the family will be facing. How can
they
afford this?"

We do indeed have national health cover in Australia, called
"Medicare". It's paid for by a levy on income tax of 1.5%, a bit more
if your income is over $70,000 a year. So, because it's a proportion of
your income tax, those with bigger incomes pay more, but everybody –
and I do mean EVERYBODY – is covered. Even if you're a visitor to
Australia, if your country has a reciprocal arrangement with ours, as
does Britain and most of Europe, you're covered. Not the US, rather
obviously.

You can take out "private health insurance" as well, if you wish,
which then provides payment assistance with things like dental bills
and gives you more options with having, eg, elective surgery in private
hospitals. But in a crisis situation, you wouldn't go to a private
hospital anyway, you'd be treated in one of the big public hospitals.

I've never, luckily for me, faced a medical crisis, but of my several
friends who have been treated for cancer of various kinds, only one has
had private health insurance. The two who didn't had, respectively,
breast and ovarian cancer (in each case, deteacted early because of the
free screenings women over 50 are sent reminders about every 2 years),
andboth received immediate, state-of-the-art treatment which cost them
precisely nothing. Not. A. Penny. 

In fact, I had never heard the term "co-pay" till I was in the US. 

Here's what happens when I go to my GP (General Practitioner, who
you'd call a family physician or similar.) I have my chat and my
check-up, she writes out any prescriptions needed, and at the desk,
they swipe both my Medicare card and my credit card. The charge for a
standard consultation will likely be about $50 – BUT, I only pay about
20% of that. Within a day or two later, my bank account has been
refunded 80% of the amount, electronically.

(BTW, almost all banking in Australia is done online, and banks do not
charge any fees for online transactions.  Cheeques, or checks as you
spell it, are pretty much redundant.)

The crippling mess that Americans are subjected to around health
insurance is as completely and utterably incomprehensible to
Australians as, for example, the whole gun thing. Private people in
Australia just don't HAVE guns, unless for a VERY good reason.   End of
story. But I digress.

Oh, and in the state of Victoria, where the Greenfield Visser family
lives and where the car crash takes place, we have a state-run outfit
called the TAC or Traffic Accident Commission. As well as running some
of the most harrowing TV ads you've ever seen in your life, they cover
ALL costs to do with vehicle accidents, right through to rehabiliation
and trauma therapy. And that coverage is for ANYONE injured in a
vehicle accident in Victoria – even a visiting American!

That's how come the family isn't bankrupted by the crash, and why
indeed there's no mention of it.  In one draft of Trust I did weave
some discussion of this in, largely for the benefit of US readers, but
if felt forced and fake. For Australians, there's just nothing to talk
about.  Amazing, huh?

 
  
  
inkwell.vue.390 : Kate Veitch, Trust
permalink #158 of 186: Julie Sherman (julieswn) Sun 29 Aug 10 17:32
    
From off-WELL reader John Dyer-Bennet:

I was amused by your choice of your first book, US title, as the
subject of the book group discussion.

Were other books considered?
  
inkwell.vue.390 : Kate Veitch, Trust
permalink #159 of 186: . (wickett) Sun 29 Aug 10 17:44
    

Exactly the way healh care should be delivered.  Nice explanation, too!

I understand about the secrecy, absolutely.  I agree that's the frisson 
for Gerry, more even than the sex.  So, any commitment towards intimacy 
would strip secrecy from both of them.  Susanna was pretty secretive, 
too, about her art.  The author was quite even-handed about handing out 
secrets!

Were they to make an intimate marriage, they would both have to be 
willing to stop keeping secrets.  Whether Gerry continued his adventures 
or not, they couldn't be secret.  Susanna's art would embrace Gerry in 
all kinds of ways that would make both of them uncomfortable, far more 
uncomfortable than her middle-aged nudes.

This, I recognize, is unlikely.  It would lead to a peculiar ending, or 
another book.  (I don't know if you want the Vissers in your head for 
another few years!)  But, it would satisfy a reader like me, who doesn't 
really look forward to closing a book and saying, "Well, merrily round and 
round we go."  Marriage/committed partnership is probably the only forum 
in the world that, in real time, has the potential to engage us to look at 
the unexamined, protected bits of our secret selves and expose them.  That's 
risky.  But, if our spouse doesn't run and we deal with our demons, 
we--and the relationship--have an opportunity for true self-actualization 
and bliss.  

That's all.
  
inkwell.vue.390 : Kate Veitch, Trust
permalink #160 of 186: . (wickett) Sun 29 Aug 10 17:45
    

John Dyer-Bennet slipt.
  
inkwell.vue.390 : Kate Veitch, Trust
permalink #161 of 186: Kate Veitch (kate-veitch) Mon 30 Aug 10 02:18
    
"That's all", says Wickett.  That's BIG.  Again, I need a bit of think
time on this. cause it's ... oh, I already said this. BIG.  For me,
anyway.
  
inkwell.vue.390 : Kate Veitch, Trust
permalink #162 of 186: Kate Veitch (kate-veitch) Mon 30 Aug 10 02:21
    
re julieswn)'s question about the title of the topic ... you know,
I've never been entirely sure, or should I say aware, of what the title
of our topic is.  What is it, please, Cynthia?  (And that's your
brother asking.  HI JOHN! THANKS FOR COMING TO MY READING!)
  
inkwell.vue.390 : Kate Veitch, Trust
permalink #163 of 186: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (peoples) Mon 30 Aug 10 15:26
    

Not sure I understand your question, Kate. The title of this topic (our
topic?) is "Kate Veitch, Trust" but perhaps that's not what you're asking.

Anyway, I'll reiterate my brother's question, since I think perhaps it
wasn't understood:

> "I was amused by your choice of your first book, US title, as the
> subject of the book group discussion.
>
> "[Did you consider using any] other books [besides your own first novel] 
> ...[as the subject for the book group's discussion]?"
  
inkwell.vue.390 : Kate Veitch, Trust
permalink #164 of 186: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (peoples) Mon 30 Aug 10 15:34
    

And as for the TAC ads on Aussie tv, there are a lot of them on youtube.
Here's a 30-second ad from the "don't drink and drive" campaign:

  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r5hxzdwQ7HA


And another 1-minute ad about the dangers of speeding:

  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWwbAgmE3N4

Yup, they're pretty intense, aren't they?
  
inkwell.vue.390 : Kate Veitch, Trust
permalink #165 of 186: Kate Veitch (kate-veitch) Mon 30 Aug 10 17:14
    
Oh lord, I'd never seen that second TAC ad you posted, Cynthia – and,
even knowing that it's "just" an ad, I could NOT watch it all the way
through. They are SO real, they scare the tripes out of you.
  
inkwell.vue.390 : Kate Veitch, Trust
permalink #166 of 186: Kate Veitch (kate-veitch) Mon 30 Aug 10 17:31
    
And thank you Cynthia for clarifying John's question.  Now I get it!
Sorry to have been so thick about titles, of both topics and of books!

So, to answer whether I had considered using a book other than my own
first novel as the subject of the book group's discussion in Chapter 9
of Trust: no, I didn't. The idea of the book group scene came first – I
wanted to place Susanna together with her mother Jean in a social
context other than the family – and almost at the same instant I
thought, "Wouldn't it be fun to have them discussing Listen?"  

BTW, I always think of my first novel by its Australian title of
Listen, but decided to use the US title, Without a Backward Glance, to
make it more of a game. 

As mentioned previously in our conversation, I really enjoyed using
quotes from some of the reviews posted on sites such as Goodreads and
Amazon. And the theme of forgiveness, with which Jean is privately
wrestling, comes up so often in discussions about the mother's action
in that first novel.

I was pretty sure that some people would get the joke, as well as the
serious purpose, behind using my own book, but that others would not. A
couple of reviewers have singled that scene out for criticism,
describing it as self-conscious or didactic. But I've been pleased that
many readers have told me they particularly enjoyed it, and thought it
was funny too. It's always such a pleasure to feel understood, isn't
it?
  
inkwell.vue.390 : Kate Veitch, Trust
permalink #167 of 186: Kate Veitch (kate-veitch) Mon 30 Aug 10 17:43
    
I've just re-read wickett's post #159, about the ending of Trust and
where Susanna and Gerry might have gone in their marriage, had they
been able.

"Marriage/committed partnership is probably the only forum 
in the world that, in real time, has the potential to engage us to
look at 
the unexamined, protected bits of our secret selves and expose them. 
That's 
risky.  But, if our spouse doesn't run and we deal with our demons, 
we--and the relationship--have an opportunity for true
self-actualization 
and bliss."

This brought back to me, with quiet force, the moment toward the end
of my own first marriage when I realised that some people DO have, and
consciously work at maintaining, a relationship in which they do not
have to protect themselves and and hide things such as their
creative/artistic desires, let alone sexual adventurousness. The notion
was astonishing, almost frightening.  Now that I have such a
relationship, and live in it every day, it seems astonishing that I
lived within the false protection of secrecy for all those (20) years.

I guess it's no surprise that all of that fed into the writing of
Trust.
   
  
inkwell.vue.390 : Kate Veitch, Trust
permalink #168 of 186: . (wickett) Mon 30 Aug 10 20:03
    

Aha!  Now I will eagerly await your third novel!

Thank you, Kate.
  
inkwell.vue.390 : Kate Veitch, Trust
permalink #169 of 186: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (peoples) Mon 30 Aug 10 20:14
    

You really do have a wonderful relationship, Kate. I'm very happy for both
of you.

Earlier, somebody in this conversation said something about wanting to
know what happens to the characters in 'Trust' after the part you've
told. I think that's a great compliment because it means the 
characters feel soooooooooo real that we forget they don't have
an "after" because they're entirely invented.

But I wonder, in creating these characters and their story arcs, did
you also envision a future for each of them that you didn't include
in the book? Did you have a picture in your head of Stella-Jean as
a successful fashion designer? What do you see Seb doing with his
life 10 years down the line? And what about Gerry? Will he find another
willing woman -- possibly somebody distinctly younger -- who'll bear
him another batch of kids? 

Do you have any desire to do a sequel to 'Trust' or ... ?
  
inkwell.vue.390 : Kate Veitch, Trust
permalink #170 of 186: . (wickett) Mon 30 Aug 10 21:26
    

To add to these most excellent questions, what happens to Stella-Jean after
traumatic brain injury?
  
inkwell.vue.390 : Kate Veitch, Trust
permalink #171 of 186: Kate Veitch (kate-veitch) Mon 30 Aug 10 21:30
    
Thank you wickett, and thank you Cynthia for your lovely comment about
me and Phillip. It took a long time to get here – 39 years, in fact –
but it's a good 'un all right. 
  
inkwell.vue.390 : Kate Veitch, Trust
permalink #172 of 186: Kate Veitch (kate-veitch) Mon 30 Aug 10 22:20
    
Yes, most excellent questions, indeed!  

A sequel? No, probably not. As Coleman, I think, said a few days, I
don't know that I want to have the Greenfield Vissers in my head for
another few years! However ... I DO have an image of what happens to
each of them. 

10 years down the track:

Gerry is indeed married to a woman 25 years younger than him, though
no kids yet. Her energy and ambition is a match for his, though she
works in a completely different field: she's a pilot. Oh wait a minute:
that's my former husband who's with a pilot 25 years younger than him!
What an amazing coincidence!

Susanna continues her part-time teaching, both because she enjoys the
contact with the students and to help support her (modestly successful
and immensely satisfying) career as an artist. She is still great
friends with Vinnie of Studio Lulu, and lives in a spacious apartment
with her new partner, whose name I believe is Paul.  I think he may be
a lawyer. They have one of those relationships <wickett> talked about,
with the self-actualization and the bliss. Yay!

Seb still enjoys playing social games of tennis, but he hasn't had
much opportunity for that lately because he and Andrew are working in
developing countries with an NGO, sort of like Medicin Sans Frontieres
but specialising in physical rehabilitation. They work like dogs and
love it – and each other. The only fly in the ointment is that in some
of the countries they've worked in, they have to be discreet about
their relationship, which is trying. 

Stella-Jean's early and thriving career as a fashion designer has
recently taken a back seat to her passionate involvement in sweatshop
reform in South East Asia. When she's tired, a careful observer might
notice that she limps slightly and has a bit of trouble finding the
right word, but apart from that, and a susceptibility to headaches,
you'd never know about the TBI.

Angie and her partner, who's also a Buddhist, are planning to spend 12
months helping to run a centre for meditation and retreat in a rural
area a couple of hours from Melbourne next year, after Finn finishes
high school.

Finn has applied to study engineering at university, and his marks
should be more than good enough to get in.  He plans to spend his gap
year travelling in South East Asia, including some time helping
Stella-Jean with her anti-sweatshop organisation.

I think Jean would be well pleased with all of them, what do you
reckon?
  
inkwell.vue.390 : Kate Veitch, Trust
permalink #173 of 186: Kate Veitch (kate-veitch) Mon 30 Aug 10 23:48
    
Yes, most excellent questions, indeed!  

A sequel? No, probably not. As Coleman, I think, said a few days, I
don't know that I want to have the Greenfield Vissers in my head for
another few years! However ... I DO have an image of what happens to
each of them. 

10 years down the track:

Gerry is indeed married to a woman 25 years younger than him, though
no kids yet. Her energy and ambition is a match for his, though she
works in a completely different field: she's a pilot. Oh wait a minute:
that's my former husband who's with a pilot 25 years younger than him!
What an amazing coincidence!

Susanna continues her part-time teaching, both because she enjoys the
contact with the students and to help support her (modestly successful
and immensely satisfying) career as an artist. She is still great
friends with Vinnie of Studio Lulu, and lives in a spacious apartment
with her new partner, whose name I believe is Paul.  I think he may be
a lawyer. They have one of those relationships <wickett> talked about,
with the self-actualization and the bliss. Yay!

Seb still enjoys playing social games of tennis, but he hasn't had
much opportunity for that lately because he and Andrew are working in
developing countries with an NGO, sort of like Medicin Sans Frontieres
but specialising in physical rehabilitation. They work like dogs and
love it – and each other. The only fly in the ointment is that in some
of the countries they've worked in, they have to be discreet about
their relationship, which is trying. 

Stella-Jean's early and thriving career as a fashion designer has
recently taken a back seat to her passionate involvement in sweatshop
reform in South East Asia. When she's tired, a careful observer might
notice that she limps slightly and has a bit of trouble finding the
right word, but apart from that, and a susceptibility to headaches,
you'd never know about the TBI.

Angie and her partner, who's also a Buddhist, are planning to spend 12
months helping to run a centre for meditation and retreat in a rural
area a couple of hours from Melbourne next year, after Finn finishes
high school.

Finn has applied to study engineering at university, and his marks
should be more than good enough to get in.  He plans to spend his gap
year travelling in South East Asia, including some time helping
Stella-Jean with her anti-sweatshop organisation.

I think Jean would be well pleased with all of them, what do you
reckon?
  
inkwell.vue.390 : Kate Veitch, Trust
permalink #174 of 186: Kate Veitch (kate-veitch) Mon 30 Aug 10 23:49
    
Oops, sorry, posted twice – my bad!
  
inkwell.vue.390 : Kate Veitch, Trust
permalink #175 of 186: . (wickett) Tue 31 Aug 10 17:47
    

It happens.  The extra post can be scribbled.  In the command box, type
"scribble 173" and it will be gone permanently.

Author fledging her young creations into their own lives, eh?

I was surprised to hear about Finn in engineering school.  I'd have thought
his direction would be more towards psychology or social work focused on
abused children and teens.  He received excellent mentoring from 
Stella-Jean and would, I think, be quite empathetic and innovative.  Ah, 
fiction.
  

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