Posted by: Lisa Hill | March 19, 2015

Meet an Aussie Author: Alice Robinson

Robinson, Alice

Author photo by Steph Tout from Longwayhome Photography.

As you will know if you saw the Opening Lines to Alice Robinson’s debut novel Anchor Point, and my enthusiastic review, I am delighted to add another author to those I can confidently recommend to readers of this blog.   Alice has a PhD in Creative Writing from Victoria University where her research centred around climate change and settler Australian attitudes to the land, and the novel tackles this complex contemporary issue with respect for diverse points of view while skilfully avoiding polemics.

AnchorPoint_Cover-hi-res-2.jpgAlice has been published widely in print and online,  and the release of this  novel has brought further critical acclaim.  Annie Condon at Readings liked the intricate portrait of the relationship between sisters and the story of grief over a missing mother and wife while Owen Richardson at the SMH admired the delicacy in handling the climate change theme, (but there are spoilers in his review so don’t read that one until after you’ve read the book).

Alice lives in a rundown miner’s cottage in the Macedon Ranges with her husband, also an academic/writer, and two small children, and as you can see from the photo below, she has ‘a room of her own’ in which to work on her current writing projects.   (I am pleased about this, I worry sometimes that a debut novel might be a one-off.  The writing life is hard for everybody, and even the best of writers have difficulty managing the multiple demands it makes.)   She’s currently on maternity leave from her position as a lecturer for the Bachelor of Writing and Publishing at Melbourne Polytechnic (NMIT) where she has worked since 2009, but there is another novel on the way.

No doubt Alice is also very busy promoting the book (published by Affirm Press who also publish a favourite author of mine, Paddy O’Reilly)  but somehow she found time to answer my questions, and here they are:

1.  I was born …in Melbourne, via c-section. My father recounted the whole episode in graphic detail in lieu of a speech at my 21st birthday party…

2.  When I was a child I wrote… letters to famous people. When I was eight and bedridden with scarlet fever, I received a response from Queen Elizabeth II penned by her lady-in-waiting.

 3.  The person who encouraged/inspired/mentored me to write is/was… early on: my mother, an adult literacy academic, and my father, a visual artist. A creative writer is probably the natural brainchild of those two.

Alice Robinson's caravan4.  I write in… my office – an old caravan out in the garden. But I also like writing in bed.

5.  I write …when I can.  I used to be very routinised about how I wrote – always at a desk, for a pre-determined length of time – but now I have two small children and everything is complicated, compromised and exhausting.

6.  Research is…. so much easier and therefore much more enjoyable than actually doing the work of writing.

7.  I keep my published work/s in … a stack on my bookcase. But the novel as a physical artefact is still so fresh and new. I don’t yet feel as though the book is really mine.

 8.  On the day my first book was published, I… thought that there would be a moment of reverential recognition, something I would recall and cherish forever, but the chaotic reality of motherhood superseded any such thing.

 9.  At the moment, I’m writing …notes for my second novel. I think that it involves a Tsunami-like apocalyptic event, the Grampians, and motherhood.

 10.When I’m stuck for an idea/word/phrase, I … sit very still, with my face scrunched up, making a pained sound, as though I’ve stubbed my toe. It really works.

It’s hard to imagine Alice with her face ‘scrunched up’ … she looks so serene in the photo!

You can learn more about Alice from this interview with Dan Bloom, and you might also like to read Alice’s article about climate change fiction on the Wheeler Centre’s website.  You can’t attend her panel session ‘New dystopias, Climate Change and Fiction at the Wheeler Centre on March 24th unless you’ve already bought your ticket because it’s booked out, but perhaps the Wheeler Centre will make it available on video in due course.  (Jane Rawson is on the panel too, her novel A Wrong Turn at the Office of Unpaid Lists (see my review) won the 2014 Most Underrated Novel Award.)

Anchor Point is available from Fishpond or direct from Affirm Press or any good bookshop.


Responses

  1. Lisa, I enjoyed this interview. I’m intrigued about the fact that Alice was writing letters to famous people. I’m sure I would have died out of joy and excitement to receive a letter from the Queen. ;-)

    I can understand how Alice feels about writing and motherhood. It’s really tough as I’m going through something similar over here. It’s even more so because the power supply in the country is now so erratic with long periods when we don’t have electricity. :-) My WIP is almost at a stand still. :-)

    • That must be very difficult indeed. And yet I still get your lovely Haiku in my in box each day – how do you do that?

  2. Anchor Point sounds very good.

    Thank you fro the link to Highlighting the Mistakes we are Making: On the Uses of Climate Change Fiction. I just read it. I had never heard of the term cli-fi before. This was an intriguing piece.

    • It’s a term new to me too but I think it’s wonderful that young writers are tackling big issues like this.

  3. I’ve had scarlet fever too! I think Alice and I will have much to discuss.


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