Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The next big thing

The wonderful Amanda Curtin, author of Inherited and the upcoming Elemental (UWA Press), tagged me in a new book meme, with the irresistible title of ‘The next big thing’. The meme asks ten questions about an upcoming work. I do have a new novel on the boil, but it's too far away for me to promote yet (wish it was closer...), so I decided to talk about the newly completed (print proof is on its way to me as I type) poetry book that I've co-written with Carolyn Howard-Johnson titled Sublime Planet, which is due for release on Earth Day 2013.

1. What is the working title of your current work-in-progress/next book?

Sublime Planet

2. Where did the idea come from?
Carolyn and I had been brainstorming a series of themes for the next poetry collaboration in our Celebration Series of themed poetry and the environment was one that seemed particularly rich to both of us.   Both of us had written books with environmental/sustainability themes and there seemed to be a broad range of ideas that we were interested in and could write about - endangered species, geoengineering, climate change, conservation.  Both of us already had poems that fit this theme and we set ourselves a target to write more, with the aim of finishing well in time for an Earth Day launch.   
3. What genre does your book fall into?
4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
I'm going to attempt to answer this question even though the book is poetry and not narrative poetry either, so while a film is not entirely impossible, it would probably need to be somewhat avante garde.  So let's say, just for the sake of fun, that the role of the narrator could be played by Judy Davis, who is pretty good at everything she does and has this amazing voice that would conjure the Australian forest. For balance, Hugo Weaving could be Davis' antistrophe, adding masculine depth to the story of human folly, hunger, loss, and self-discovery.  
5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Traversing a wide terrain, from the loss of species to the beauty of the natural world, from drought to the exploration of alternative planets, Sublime Planet is an exhilarating collection that break boundaries and leads the reader deep into the personal heart of perception. 
6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Self published (CreateSpace) and due for release April 22nd, 2013.  
7. How long did it take you to write the first draft?
Carolyn and I have been working on it for about 9 months or so (the standard gestation time!).  We took a break to work on a food oriented book which is about halfway done, but decided to ramp up work on this one when we took the decision to align it with Earth Day.  
8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I'm not sure there are many other two-poet collaborations out there, and Carolyn's poetry is complementary to mine I think but also quite different.  I like to think that there are alignments between the poetry I've included in this collection and the work of Dorothy Porter (Other Worlds), Tracy Smith (Life on Mars), and Emily Ballou (The Darwin Poems), but those are poets who have been and continue to be highly inspirational to me -- my literary mentors.  I may only be tilting in that direction, but that's certainly the kind of writing and the impact I'm going for. 
9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
We live in a beautiful world.  Every morning I wake to the birdsong.  I walk outside and breathe in the smell of Eucalyptus.  My home is rural and surrounded by the Australian bush.  Right now I'm watching, out of my living room window, a Superb Lyrebird scratching in the dirt.  It's a kind of paradise.  Contrasted with that is a growing sense that climate change, a loss of diversity, rising sea levels and an exploding growth in population is driving us to inevitable disaster.  I work in an industry where sustainability is one of the key drivers so I'm always surrounded by issues, questions and conflicting opinion.  Carolyn and I were very keen to explore these issues deeply, as only a poet can - without didacticism or easy answers as indeed there aren't any easy answers. 
10. What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
The book has photos from wonderful photographer Ann Howleyknown for gift cards on fine linen featuring her nature photography. Her photos are exquisite and I think I could write an entire book based on her images alone. Carolyn and I  also have a few exciting partnership ventures in the works -- we're hoping to be able to donate our profits to an environmentally oriented organisation.  The ability to be able to use poetry, not only to inspire and entertain, but to actually do some tangible good is very exciting for us.  
Because this is a meme, I've got to end by tagging four other writers who I know have a 'big thing' on their horizon.  Can't wait to read about it: Jessica Bell, Philomena van Rijswijk, Rosanne Dingli, and Matthew Glenn Ward

1 comment:

  1. Sounds fabulous, Maggie, and I love that cover image! Thanks for sharing your next :-)