Interview with Deborah Robertson

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sweet_old_world.jpg    Deborah Robertson's debut novel, Careless, in 2006, received a lot of attention. It was the winner of the Nita Kibble and Colin Roderick awards; shortlisted for the Age Book of the Year Awards, the NSW Premier's Literary Award, the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, Australian Book Industry Awards, Western Australia Premier's Book Awards an the Miles Franklin Award; and longlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and the Orange Prize. A formidable list. And now the author has released her second novel, Sweet Old World. She spoke to Susan Wyndham:
Writing the novel wasn't simple, either. ''I didn't really know what it was when I wrote it the first time,'' Robertson says. It began as the story of three sisters who collaborate to make a baby - one gives an egg, one her womb and the third, infertile sister would raise the child.

''I worked on that for a year, 18 months,'' Robertson says. ''I'd been writing in Perth and turning my wheels and not getting any traction and I thought, OK, I'll upset the apple cart and see what happens.''


Her next move, in 2009, was from Perth to Melbourne.

''It just had to be a big city and I wanted weather as radically different from Perth as possible but not Tasmania. I was trying to make things as hard as possible for myself. I think I write best when things are extreme or I'm in a particular period of intensity in my life. I sort of carve books out of myself.'' She achieved her aim. Living alone in Fitzroy North, she became completely absorbed in her work.

''This is the hardest book I've ever written in ways I could never imagine, probably because of the intense solitary nature and the fact that nothing around me was familiar,'' she says. ''It was essentially a convent life but the devotion was writing. It burned away the last of my illusions about what would be expected of me in a committed writing life.''

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on March 5, 2012 8:16 AM.

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