Posted by: Lisa Hill | June 12, 2014

Meet an Aussie Author: Julie Proudfoot

Julie ProudfootJulie Proudfoot is the debut author of The Neighbour, a rather chilling novella which won the 2014 Seizure Viva La Novella Prize (see the judge’s report).  It made me very grateful that I have nice normal neighbours next door!

As I said in my review:

A novella of 204 pages, it is a gripping tale of a life gone horribly wrong.  It begins with a perfectly ordinary scene in domestic suburbia, but a tragedy unhinges all the characters one way or another, especially the central character, Luke.  Haunted by the childhood death of his brother, Luke tangles guilt and responsibility and tries desperately to prove to himself that he’s not a bad man.

I was impressed by this novel, and couldn’t resist asking Julie to contribute to Meet an Aussie Author.  Read on to find out more about an author who has the uncanny knack of getting inside the mind of a rather odd man …

  1.  I was almost born on the railway tracks in Gisborne, Victoria, in the days when the railway gates were locked against road traffic to let the trains through. My poor mother had to get the gates unlocked so that she could get to the hospital. I was fourth of five children, a small girl after three boys, and apparently not very patient. She made it to the hospital with minutes to spare.
  2. When I was a child I wrote indigenous dreamtime stories until the teacher told me I couldn’t do that as I wasn’t indigenous. Possibly my first understanding of difference.
  3. The person who encouraged / inspired/ mentored me to write is/was…. It seems silly but there was no such person. It was more that there were people who said I couldn’t, that it would get me nowhere in life. Those people would also say I’m stubborn, hence the book. I was more inspired by a strong need to understand people around me in my life and family. Books played a large part in that kind of inspiration. We had very few books when I was a child, but those we did have I read over and over. Pippi Longstocking was a favourite, What Katy Did, What Katy Did Next etc. and the Laura  Ingalls books-Little House on the Prairie.
  4.  I love to write in bed. I’m very productive there, I think it’s the feeling that there is no pressure, just lazing around, it bypasses expectations.
  5.  I write whenever I can, which is usually in mornings after the kids have gone to school. If I can get away with it, I write all day long.
  6. Research is so very much fun and sometimes a naughty, naughty excuse for exploring the internet, what a huge world it is in that internet thing-where-ever it is.
  7. Julie Proudfoot shelvesI keep my published work [The Neighbour, with its distinctive green and black spine] on the shelf above my desk… as I write it is only two days old. It sits between my favourite Leunig cartoon and my paint brushes.
  8.  On the day my first book was published, I was so tired as it was at the Seizure Novella Prize Announcement, around 10:00 at night. I’d been so stricken with nerves the days leading up that I hadn’t eaten or slept well at all. I just needed a big feed and a long sleep. I don’t drink very often either and on the night I had three glasses of champagne (after my reading of course!) so you can imagine how I was then…let’s not remember that part…
  9. At the moment, I’m writing another psychological/literary fiction book about a man who begins a tryst with a robot to work through his unusual relationship problems. It’s a fun story as well as being an exploration into relationship dynamics.
  10. When I’m stuck for an idea / word/ phrase, I …. browse the dictionary and thesaurus or I read books I find inspiring, such as a Doris Lessing, Martin Amis, Stephen Carroll. Reading great writing can slow your brain to catch the exact right word you need.

***

I’m interested to see that here is another author who really enjoys doing research.  I met John A. Scott on my wonderful weekend in Woodend and he told some fascinating stories about his adventures with research.  Writing his recent splendid novel N (see my review) took him all over Australia, and other books have taken him all over the world.  It’s when I hear stories like that, that I toy with the idea of writing a book myself, set in …oh… almost everywhere in Europe, at least to start with… I think I could happily spend a couple of decades researching my … um… masterpiece…

Julie holds degrees in Psychology and Sociology from LaTrobe University (which is why she does macabre so well?) and she has had fiction, poetry and non-fiction works published in various journals.  The Neighbour is her first long-form work. She has worked as a bookseller, creative writing mentor, property manager and dental nurse.  Julie now writes full time from her home in Bendigo, Victoria, where she lives with her husband and children.

If you’d like to meet up with Julie, she is appearing at the Bendigo Writers festival in August for two events, firstly as chair of the panel ‘Girl, you’ll be a woman soon’, with authors Nicole Hayes, Kirsten Krauth and Jenny Valentish, and also for the launch of her book The Neighbour.

You can buy The Neighbour from
Fishpond: The Neighbour,
from Seizure Online
from good bricks-and-mortar bookshops  such as Readings or
(if you live overseas) from that rapacious American online bookstore.

 


Responses

  1. I love researching too and am particularly interested in the first half of the last century. I am currently researching and writing a novel set in Sydney and Paris in the 1920s. Today I actually wasted valuable writing time pondering the identity of a young woman snapped on a beach in France 90 years ago. I think I’ll be blogging about her soon!

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    • What fun! I must admit the research I sometimes do when I’m writing for my blog, and yes, it can be a bit of a distraction from the main game, I agree.

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      • Hi Lisa,
        What sort of research do you do? Is it directly related to the books you review?

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        • It depends. I have three blogs, a travel blog, a professional blog and ANZ LitLovers. Let’s say that for the review blog I stumbled on your book at the library and I’d never heard of you. When writing the review (after I’ve read the book), I’d scamper around at Google looking for a blog if you had one, or a Wikipedia entry to see if you had written other novels, and maybe I’d scout around at GoodReads or your publisher’s website so that I had some introductory bio material to use about you. If I disliked your book, (I review everything I read), I’d hunt around for positive reviews to balance my opinion.
          With classic or challenging authors, I do that too, but I also sometimes research for links to allusions or symbols that they’ve used. I did heaps of research when I was blogging James Joyce’s Ulysses, chapter by chapter. So much stuff I never knew about Irish nationalism! I loved doing that one.
          Also, sometimes if I’ve referred to something that not everyone will know about, I’ll hunt about for a link to explain it. For example, if I refer to somewhere or something in Melbourne, my international readers probably won’t know about that, so I’ll add a link to explain it. Similarly, if I think that younger readers might be unfamiliar with something that’s common knowledge to my generation, I’ll do a quick bit of research to find a link that explains it. And of course, if I’m not sure of my information about something, I check that too.
          I do put a lot of thought and effort into my reviews, so it’s a case of finding out what I need to know, without losing sight of what *I* think about the book. That after all, is what my readers are interested in…

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  2. You are really thorough. I didn’t see your review of Tomaree. I hope you liked it. It was actually inspired by real people except they met in Newcastle not Nelson Bay. Lily and I exchanged a few letters till she died. She was wonderful and feisty even in her eighties and was fiercely loyal to the memory of her Yank!

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    • Sorry, Debbie, I didn’t make myself clear. I haven’t read Tomaree (yet), (great title BTW) it was just an example of what I would do.

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      • Thanks Lisa. It sounds very much how I operate. I probably do too much research but it definitely helps me set scenes!
        Of course Tomaree is the mountain at Port Stephens but it does work well as a title because the main character is Tom, lol.

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        • I don’t think there can be too much research. It’s all learning, of one kind or another.

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