|Emily Maguire burst onto the Australian literary scene with her first novel, Taming the Beast, in 2004. She is now back with her new book, Fishing for Tigers and she was recently interviewed by Bronte Coates for "Readings".|
Your first novel, Taming the Beast, portrays an intimate relationship between a female student and her male teacher. Here, you explore a relationship between an older woman and younger man. How aware were you of differences and stereotypes while writing these characters?
Age and gender and all that play a part in who we are, but how much of a part and in what way varies enormously. It would be a mistake to attempt to write 'an eighteen-year-old' or whatever. I can only write this particular eighteen-year-old and that particular thirty-five-year old woman and so on. So, in that sense, I'm no more aware of stereotypes related to their ages than I am about anything else. They each are who they are.
As for the differences between characters of different ages, well, again, it's more about how those differences (and similarities) play out in specific situations. In the case of Taming the Beast, that relationship is criminal as well as unethical. In Fishing for Tigers it's an unusual pairing, but the ethical questions it raises are more slippery. The specific life experiences and associated vulnerabilities of Mischa and Cal are, arguably, more important in terms of how their relationship plays out than the age difference.