It’s a little over 18 months since Karenlee Thompson wrote her enthusiastic guest review of Yvette Walker’s debut novel, Letters to the End of Love for this blog – but since then the novel has featured in both NSW and WA Premiers’ literary awards and so I approached Yvette through Twitter to request her presence in the ANZ LitLovers Meet an Aussie Author series. (Twitter is an excellent form of social media for authors to have a web presence, and I use it all the time to locate them. Fortunately Yvette uses her own name there so she was easy to find).
Yvette’s bio tells us that she has a BA (Honours) and a PhD from Curtin University. She spent time at Varuna the Writers House in 2009 and again in 2011. Letters to the End of Love (published by UQP) won a 2014 WA Premier’s Award (Emerging WA Writer) and was shortlisted for a 2014 NSW Premier’s Award (Glenda Adams’ Award for New Writing). Impressive, eh? Karenlee knows a good book when she sees one, and it’s nice to see her judgement confirmed by the judges of such significant awards.
But as regular readers of this blog know, Meet an Aussie Author asks penetrating questions that ferret deep into the writing life, and so without further ado, here are Yvette’s answers:
1. I was born two months before The Beatles broke up. [LH: I am… a-hem… a tad older than Yvette; I wept inconsolably.]
2. When I was a child I wrote long short stories in foolscap exercise books about the folly of the Roman Empire. Also the occasional foray into Vikings.
3. The people who inspired me to write I found in my local public library: E.B. White, Susan Cooper, Colin Thiele, Graham Greene, Tennessee Williams.
4. I write in the sunroom at the dining room table, at my desk in my bedroom, sometimes on the train scribbling on my lap.
5. I write when I’m backed into a corner. The rest of my time is spent feeling guilty and anxious for not writing.
6. Research is wandering in an endless city of possibilities, full of pleasures – doing research is when I feel most inspired, most able to create something of beauty.
7. I keep my published work in the bookshelf with other Australian writers – I like to think the books chat to one another in the wee hours of the morning.
8. On the day my first book was published, I unpacked boxes of my book at the bookshop where I work. And opened a bottle of Veuve at the bookshop counter.
9. At the moment, I’m writing the zero draft of my second novel. I can’t say anymore – like all writers I’m too superstitious to say much about a work in progress.
10. When I’m stuck for an idea/word/phrase, I make a cup of tea. I walk around the neighbourhood and talk to the local cats. I pick up a favourite book, read a paragraph and shout at the invisible author, “How did you do this?”
I love the idea of books chatting to each other in the night: I can imagine some of the political biographies chez moi might have some rather rowdy conversations!
But fancy how exciting it would be to be browsing in the bookshop when a new author breaks open the bubbly! I remember when my little book arrived in the mail from the publisher, and I was so overcome I just sat there and held it in my hands for ages looking at my name on the cover until my husband came home from work. Yes, we did open a bottle of bubbly, but how perfect it would be to do that in a bookshop!
Like most authors in Australia, Yvette has other work besides her writing, but there’s a bookish theme to the work she does. She’s worked in grubby second hand bookshops, jazz filled book cafés and bookstores quite near the Indian Ocean. Now that you know, WA readers, keep an eye out for Yvette in the bookshops and cafés and get your copy of her book autographed!