For anyone new to Book to the Future, here’s the deal: I ask someone bookish to share with me a little bit about the book they’ve just read and the book they’re reading right now. I also get them to take a peek into their crystal ball and let me know what they’re planning to read next.
My guest for this edition of Past, Present and Future is none other than Annabel Smith, author of digital interactive novel, The Ark. Here’s what Annabel’s been reading…
The last couple of months have been a reading wasteland for me, as I have worked every spare minute preparing for the publication of my novel The Ark. Now it is out in the world I’m very happy to get back to to my ridiculously enormous reading pile.
I adored Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings and have since been exploring her backlist, most recently with her novel The Ten-Year Nap, which explores the difficult line walked by working women who become parents.
I read a few reviews which dismissed the novel as the whining of privileged white women but I found it incredibly relatable and I respected Wolitzer’s willingness to tackle a subject which is so ordinary as to seem unworthy of being the subject for a novel. The timing was perfect actually, as in November, I’m lucky to be writer-in-residence at Katherine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre, and I’ll be starting a new novel which engages with similar themes, and draws on my experiences with post-natal depression.
Yesterday I devoured Edan Lepucki’s debut novel California in one sitting. Set in a not-too-distant and easily imaginable future in which extreme weather events and environmental problems are making parts of the country uninhabitable, Cal & Frida create a new life for themselves in the wilderness. When Frida becomes pregnant they journey to a closed community, hoping to be accepted.
The novel is beautifully written and the day-to-day details of post-apocalyptic survival are fascinating, as are the dynamics of the communities that form under extreme conditions. California is also a very insightful portrayal of the ups and downs of marriage, especially under fraught circumstances.
Though the settings were quite different, in terms of themes I found many interesting parallels with my recently-published novel The Ark.
For the third year in a row, I am taking part in the Australian Women Writers Challenge, in which I have challenged myself to read at least one book by an Australian female author each month.
I have just begun Emily Bitto’s The Strays, and am instantly beguiled by its gorgeous writing and sepia-toned depiction of childhood in the Melbourne of the 1930s.
Centred around the family of an artist, it looks like it is going to explore ‘bohemian parenting’ and female friendship and I can’t wait to see where it goes.
Annabel Smith is the author of Whisky Charlie Foxtrot, and A New Map of the Universe, which was shortlisted for the WA Premier’s Book Awards. Her short fiction and non-fiction has been published in Southerly, Westerly, Wheeler Dailies and Junkee. She holds a PhD in Writing, is an Australia Council Creative Australia Fellow, and is a member of the editorial board of Margaret River Press. Her digital interactive novel/app The Ark has just been released. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.
Thank you so much for being a part of Past, Present and Future, Annabel! Congratulations on the launch of The Ark – here’s wishing it every success. Best of luck with the new novel…