Ben Peek (benpeek) wrote,
Ben Peek

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I did this interview a few months back.

The interview was done by Elizabeth Lardie, who was a student of mine last year... well, as much as anyone is ever a student of mine in a creative writing course, I guess. Teaching creative writing has always struck me as more about getting people to find their own voice and get confident with that so that the whole idea of 'teaching' becomes a slippery one. Anyhow, at the end of the semester Liz handed in a set of real postcards from friends who (if I remember rightly) were traveling through America and there, inbetween talking about how she wasn't replying enough, and they had missed birthdays and so forth, they ended up in New York on September 11th. The last card manages to convey the sense of tragedy and loss with such an understated subtly that even I, cynical and wary of 9/11 stories, was moved.

I did the interview about six months after the semester finished. I had an office at this stage, and Liz and I sat round and talked for about three hours, and I jumped from topic to topic and she kept notes, which as anyone who has talked to me for more than a couple of minutes will know is a dubious prospect. Which perhaps does explain why there are a few problems with the interview, making me, according to Liz, "the victim of her first significant screw up."

It's not that bad, however. It talks about my novels Black Sheep, which'll be published by Prime next year, and my thesis/novel, A Year in the City, which is almost complete and not nearly published. The problem is that the article mashes the two together under the firsts title, which has the curious result of giving you the impression of a third book, or, in my case, the realisation that I'm following a thematic pathway with each larger project that I take on. I was aware of this before, but Liz's piece really drives that to me. I've been thinking about what to do after I finish the thesis and I have been toying with the idea of writing a crime novel, a sword and sorcery/steampunk novel, and american road novel, or with a short dark fantasy novel called Across the Seven Continents of the Underworld which takes the life of the bushranger Matt Brady as its skeleton.* I like the fact that it'll be short, something that won't take me four years like A Year in the City and which will be a bit more straight, narrative wise. It's also, in a way, the postscript to the themes of Black Sheep and A Year in the City and that appeals to me, too.

Plus, I like the title.

That said, who knows what I'll end up doing once this doctorate thing is done. Money looks good, but that requires a job, and that brings up a whole bunch of issues. It's easy to be unemployed with a doctorate.

Whatever. The article is worth checking out, however, because despite the mash and an error that with Peter Carey's name (which Liz tells me wasn't there when she handed it in) it's interesting. The way to tell the difference between the two books in the article is pretty simple: anything sounding futuristic and vaguely dystopian is Black Sheep and anything sounding realistic and the now and dealing with Sydney is A Year in the City. I'm not sure how I come across in the end, but I think this is partly because I'm not used to seeing myself referred to in the third person. At any rate, I don't sound like I plan to torch the Australian literary scene and I don't call all editors crack addicts, so that has got to be a change for me and how I'm publically viewed.

But then you can't do that shit every day of the week.

* And ninebelow made a comment yesterday about how Peter Carey's The True History of the Kelly Gang is a Western. I don't agree with that--at least, I don't think so--and now I'm having all these thoughts about Westerns and bushrangers and frontier writing. It'll likely pass.
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