|Cate Kennedy came into notice with her novel The World Beneath in 2009, but she is mainly known for her short stories. She has a new collection of them titled Like a House on Fire and she recently spoke to Helen Garner for "Readings".|
'Everything's ordinary in my work,' she says when we sit down to talk about her new short story collection, Like a House on Fire. 'The whole confessional thing, where you're always taking your own emotional temperature, is no use to me. I don't have any lofty ambitions. And I don't want characters who are larger than life. I live in a very ordinary place, a farm on a river. I listen to other people and I hear what they're saying. The gift is the ordinariness - things that are well-used, unexpressed, taken for granted. I love to look at those things in a fresh way.
'People often say there has to be drama in a story, but I think, what about the day after the drama? You've had the baby or the bike accident, and you wake up the next morning. I'm really interested in aftermath - what we do with what's happened to us.'
'Like the woman in your poem who's lost a baby,' I say. 'Every morning waking is like going through a windscreen.'
'Yes,' she says, 'I'm interested in the way people behave when power has been stripped from them. The way they put themselves back together again. Not so much what they're feeling or thinking, but what they do. We're revealed by our actions. I want people in my stories to act, even if what they're doing seems distorted or deformed by the damage that's been done to them. That's what keeps me watching them.'