Posted by: Lisa Hill | February 20, 2021

Meet an Aussie Author: Christy Collins

Christy Collins, photographed by Fabrizio Evans

A fortnight ago I reviewed Christy Collins new novel The Price of Two Sparrows and I liked it so much I contacted Christy offering to feature her in Meet an Aussie Author.

I like novels that tell personal stories to illuminate issues that confront the society we live in.  The Price of Two Sparrows revolves around a proposed mosque development on land adjacent to a nature reserve for protected birds and it interrogates the entrenched positions that the media loves to present in reductionist terms.  I can see from the bio that Christy has provided where her interest in these kinds of urban issues comes from.

Christy has worked in academic research in the fields of child health, sustainability and commuter behaviour. Her novella The End of Seeing (see my review) was one of the winners of the Viva La Novella Prize 2015 and is published by Seizure.  It was shortlisted for the Colin Roderick Award and the Writing Australia Unpublished Manuscript Prize and long-listed for the Vogel. She has a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Tasmania and was a 2017 Asialink Arts Resident in Sapporo, Japan. Her novel ‘The Price of Two Sparrows’ is published by Affirm Press. She lives in Melbourne.

Here are Christy’s answers to my questions:

1. I was born…. in Adelaide and lived in South Australia until I was twelve.
2. When I was a child…before I could read or write, I wrote random letter combinations and took them to Mum and asked ‘what does this say?’ over and over again. I don’t think I managed to hit on a meaningful combination.
3. The person who encouraged / inspired / mentored me … there have been so many. For ‘The Price of Two Sparrows’ I was inspired by the very diverse group of people who participated in a State Department study program on Religious Pluralism with me at the University of California Santa Barbara in 2012. The book is dedicated to them.
4. I write in … my study.
5. I write when … I first wake up.
6. Research is … maybe the best part of writing. I love libraries and getting lost in the stacks. Writing this book included travel, art galleries, a birding tour, online research, reading, and long talks with people who know much more than me about Islam or birds or architecture – a privilege and a joy.
7. I keep my published works … on the bookshelf which my husband has alphabetised so at present my books sit between a number of J.M. Coetzee’s and Kathleen Collins’ ‘Whatever Happened to Interracial Love’. I also keep a ‘reading copy’ that I mark up with small changes before a reading.
8. On the day my first book was published, I … attended the launch event the publisher had organised at Melbourne Writers Festival then went out for burgers.
9. At the moment, I’m writing … a novel about virtual reality and travel.
10. When I’m stuck for an idea … I wait (something will come if I’m patient) / a word… I type ‘XXX’ and keep going / a phrase, I stare into the fridge, make a cup of tea, type ‘XXX’ and keep going.

What a difference there is between the festival buzz of Christy’s launch at the MWF, and the subdued atmosphere of book launches in our Covid-constrained world!  I think we all know now that book launches don’t sell many books on the night, but—quite apart from announcing what is a significant achievement in any writer’s life—what they do achieve is to generate interest.  I really liked Christy’s book, so I hope that it does well.

You can buy the book from Fishpond: The Price of Two Sparrows, direct from Affirm Press or your favourite indie bookseller.

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