We were fortunate to be able to begin Orphan Rock with Blue Mountains' author Carol Major and her wonderful novel The Asparagus Wars. So we're delighted that she's been short-listed for this year's NIB literary awards. We talked to Carol about the nomination and other things in her life. If you want to know more, you can get the Asparagus Wars from this site.
A: Carol, you recently did some sessions at the Blue Mountains Writers Festival. What do you enjoy most about writers’ festivals?
A: The best writers' festivals are festivals of ideas that fuel rich conversations about our world and what it means to be human. The Blue Mountains Festival was extraordinary in the breadth of speakers and topics: human rights, philosophy, climate change and First Nations writers as they reconfigured the genre of speculative fiction to take in their culture. Talk about having your head turned around. The Festival also showcased brilliant new writing from young people living in Western Sydney, giving them a chance to mix with others in the industry - and of course for all of us the hope of selling a few more books!
Q: Your book The Asparagus Wars has been short-listed for the NIB Literary Award. Congratulations! How did you feel when you heard the news?
A: Validated, honoured and so grateful to the generosity of Mark and Evette Moran, the Alex Buzo Estate, and Waverley Council for supporting writers in this way. The recognition gives such a boost to the life of a book and increases confidence towards writing the next one.
Q: You’ve done a lot of work with aspiring authors at Varuna. What’s the piece of advice you find yourself giving most often?
A: Stop thinking about writing a book, and think about telling a story. I find many writers get trapped by their manuscripts. They start assembling it like a Meccano Set, bolting this thing to that. In the process they lose the heart and 'voice' of what needs to be conveyed. Imagine your reader as your listener. What made you want to start speaking to them? Feel that urgency. Let that guide how the narrative unfolds.
Q: Spring is well and truly here. What’s on your mind at the moment?
A: Painting. I am painting chairs, tables and damp-stained walls. My father was a painter and decorator. Those were the days when you made up your own colours with tints. I love messing with colour, and when I'm painting I write. The solutions to a manuscript become clear when I'm up a ladder trying to figure out how I'm going to patch a hole or what colours might work. I keep a notebook nearby.
You can buy The Asparagus Wars from our website. It's not only an amazing book, you will discover the reason for its intriguing title.