Sonia Orchard Interview

Jacinta Halloran, of Readings bookshop, interviews Sonia Orchard, whose new novel The Virtuoso has just been released. The novel draws on the life of Australian pianist Noel Mewton-Wood, who committed suicide in London, in 1953, at the age of 31.

When writing fiction about a real person, the border between fact and fantasy can sometimes become problematic for the novelist. The creation of a fictional narrator relieved Orchard of some of her concerns in this regard. "I initially struggled with the notion of how much I should stick to the facts [of Mewton-Wood's life] but, once I had decided to write from the point of view of a fictional and very unreliable narrator, I felt the problem was solved. I also follow the postmodern idea that there is no one absolute truth and that every viewpoint has its own agenda." However, she coloured The Virtuoso with anecdotes from Mewton-Wood's friends, and stayed true to factual details concerning his concert dates and programming details. "These things gave me something to work with."

The narrator of The Virtuoso is a remarkable creation. Through him, the intriguing life of Mewton-Wood is chronicled with meticulous detail, and yet there is much about Mewton-Wood -- his deeper thoughts and feelings about his art and his talent -- that the narrator does not know or understand. By creating this obsessed and somewhat deluded narrator, Orchard has intentionally left us with a sense of mystery surrounding Mewton-Wood's true self. "I fell in love with Mewton-Wood during my researching of his life, so I wanted to write about him from the perspective of an obsessed fan or lover. There remains something elusive about him. People I interviewed had contradictory ideas about his personality and no-one really understood why he committed suicide."

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on February 6, 2009 11:53 AM.

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