Now if I hadn’t urged you to get your mitts on this debut novel before today then I would urge you once more to read ‘After The Fire, A Still Small Voice’ by Evie Wyld, that is of course unless you have already read it! I enthused about it last year and it made my top books of 2009. Well I had the pleasure of meeting Evie a while back (a big thanks to Kim of Reading Matters for being brave) and going all fan like and a little star struck. However despite my ‘rabbit in the headlights’ first impression Evie kindly agreed to be my latest victim author to have a Savidge Reads Grilling. Here she discusses her wonderful debut (on the day it comes out in paperback in the UK hint, hint), kissing books and books that make her clap with joy…
For those people who haven’t read After The Fire, A Still Small Voice yet, can you try and explain it in a single sentence…
It’s a story about traumatised men, not talking and scary things that people try to ignore.
How did the book come about, where was the idea born?
I really just sat down and wrote for three years. I didn’t have any strong ideas of where it would go, I just followed the characters around until they made their own way in the story. Australia was the only bit that was a solid ‘idea’.
Now the book is written from points of view of some very strong (and if I may say so emotionally withdrawn) males, how easy did you find that, what were the hurdles?
I didn’t find it difficult using a male voice – in fact I think I find it easier to write at a bit of a distance, because you have to imagine so much more to make it authentic. When I was writing at home there was a fair bit of acting that went into developing the characters, I spoke a lot of their dialogue out loud; I stomped round the flat and tried to imagine I was Frank and Leon. That seemed like the easiest way to understand them.
Has working in a book shop been a push to write more? How did you combine work and writing?
I work twice a week in the book shop, so ordinarily I’ll have three days of writing, which seems to be working out pretty well. Working there has made me aware of how difficult it is to get anywhere with writing – and rightly so – there are so many wonderful books, and they keep coming, there’s no reason for anyone to read a bad book. I think it’s made me understand the importance of getting it right.
How relevant do you think book blogging is to the publishing industry? Do you ever pop and see what people have thought of your book or is it something you avoid at all costs?
I find it impossible not to read reviews. And they can be really helpful – it’s lovely to know that someone you’ve never met is taking your work seriously. I’ve found that book blogs give a whole other life to the book, and it’s that sort of word of mouth which has been the most useful in getting the book out there. Reviews on your blog or on Dove Grey Reader seem to be as helpful to sales as something from say the Guardian.
When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer? Was it an easy thing for you to do? How long have you been writing for?
I started writing when I was about 15, and the first thing I wrote came out really easily, partly because it was pretty awful but partly because it released some tension I didn’t realise I had until then. It just flowed out and it was a really wonderful feeling. I don’t get it often but that’s the feeling I’m chasing when I’m writing. It’s as much about figuring yourself out as telling a good story.
Which books and authors inspired you to write?
Cloudstreet by Tim Winton was the first novel that made me envy a writer’s relationship with their work. I had the misguided idea that for the author the characters have an afterlife, that it doesn’t all end when the writing stops, like you could ask what a certain character goes on to do after the book is over and the writer would know. I love Lorrie Moore too and anything in the Love and Rockets series by the Hernandez brothers
Which contemporary authors do you rate who are writing right now?
David Vann’s ‘Legend of a Suicide’ is wonderful. I would read anything that Tim Winton writes, and I’ve just got into Peter Temple. Jon McGregor is a hero and I’ve just read ‘The Cuckoo Boy’ by Grant Gillespie, his first novel. I loved that. I’m looking forward to whatever Karen McLeod writes next.
Describe your typical writing routine, do you have any writers quirks or any writing rituals?
I write best it the morning, and I drink black coffee. I like to get out of the flat, so that I don’t have the temptations of housework and looking in the fridge. My only really creepy ‘quirk’ is that if I’m reading a book, I have to kiss page 100 when I get to it. That’s the only thing that really makes me worry about myself.
Which book, apart from your own, would you demand Savidge Reads and readers run out and buy right this instant, a book you would call your favourite?
So hard – I really don’t have a favorite, but The Idea of Perfection by Kate Grenville makes me clap my hands.
What is next for Evie Wyld; please say we don’t have to wait too long for the second book? No pressure though, hee, hee!
I’ve made a start on the next book, its set between Australia and sea side towns in the UK. I’m also working with an illustrator on a short graphic novel, which is really good fun. It’s about my early childhood and swapping between Australia and England and it’s about sharks.
Well I don’t know about you but I cannot wait for novel number two and the graphic novel (maybe this project will help me finally get into that genre). A huge thanks to Evie for taking part, I won’t go all fan-esque again, I shall just say if you haven’t read her book then you really, really must and you can visit her website here and read her blog as Booktrust ‘writer in residence’ here. Oh and I nearly forgot, should you have any burning questions for Evie you might want to pop them in the comments as she just might pop by, you never know…
30 responses to “Savidge Reads Grills… Evie Wyld”
A nice interview Simon. I will definitely be buying this book – and love the description of it as a romantic thriller about men not talking (from your prev post).
Hi Annabel, it was actually Evie that described it as that when she went to America and someone captured her at an event that Kim at Reading Matters then popped on her blog and was actually the reason I had to get my hands on a copy of the book myself. I think the sign of a great book is one that stays with you and I still think of both the leads and their stories a lot. If I had been giving books out of ten at the time it would have been a nine and a half (I am going to be really toght about tens hee hee).
Interesting interview; I love the author “quirk” of kissing her book/manuscript once she reaches page 100. I like also that working in a bookshop has kept her grounded, surrounded by such a range and wealth of literature and other talented writers.
I wrote in my review that the elegant description from the dust-jacket, “The taut silence that fills up the empty space”, perfectly describes that tension and lack of communication between Frank and Leon.
I hope too that those people who haven’t yet read it run out and buy the paperback today (although the hardback is one of the loveliest designs published for some time, or since The Children’s Book at least, and difficult to resist). I wish Evie Wyld the best of luck for the Orange New Writers prize and every success in the future; her new novel and graphic novel have me intrigued and excited.
Thanks so much Claire,
The hardback cover is a beauty isn’t it? It was actually done by a close freind Darren Wall and his company Wallzo http://www.wallzo.com/
It was wonderful to have input into the final design, We’re both really proud of it.
I wish they’d kept the hardback cover for the paperback. It is lovely.
I’d love to know how Evie feels about the Orange New Writers nomination and if she can enlighten us on whether her book was submitted to both lists, or just one. Has she read any of the other three shortlisted books?
Oh you’re all tempting me to spend money now it’s out in papaerback, but I just finished buying up Orange prize books…I really like her taste in books though, so very likely I’d mesh with hers.
Thanks for your question – I’m so thrilled about the Orange New Writers nomination. It’s lovely to have a prize dedicated to the first attempt. I haven’t read the other two yet, but I’ve got them at home, and I’m looking forward to reading them both.
My publishers very wisely don’t tell me what they have and haven’t entered me for. I’m happy in blissful ignorance!
All the best
This has convinced me that I need to read the book! I especially love how she said that the book she recommended makes her clap her hands!
What a great grill! I’m completely intrigued by this woman. To just sit down and write for three years – she makes it seem so natural and easy! I love that she kisses her 100th page (makes her interesting, not strange!) and she is also very beautiful. Guess I’m going to have to read her book!
A wonderful interview. I just picked up a copy of After The Fire, A Still Small Voice from the library and am even more eager now to start reading!
Fantastic interview. I haven’t read this book but am hugely intrigued to now!
Excellent interview & I’ve now added three new books to my TBR pile.
I had made a note to read After the Fire awhile back but totally forgot about it. I just added it to my Goodreads list. She mentioned Legends of a Suicide which I just started reading on.
Envy from the hinterlands! I live too far away to be able to have such nice interviews for my blog.
Evie W. was nice enough to comment on my blog and to tell me what a bunyip is.
I will nominate her novel for the International Fiction Book Club of New Orleans for 2011!
I grew up near a town that was actually called Bunyip!
Bunyips are kind of scary… We were always told to not swim in the dam because the bunyip would get us. I think that was one of way of ensuring we wouldn’t drown!
Great interview, Simon. It has made me want to bump The Idea of Perfection a little higher up my TBR.
As you know I really loved Evie’s book. I have Sinead Gleeson, an Irish journalist, to thank for recommending it to me. So it’s great to see how the love for this book has spread via word of mouth and blogs rather than any kind of over-the-top advertising campaign.
It was lovely to meet Evie a few weeks back at the David Vann event. Admittedly the picture used to illustrate this piece made me look twice: I thought it was MJ Hyland!
Wow she loves Australian authors! I have yet to read Tim Winton and Kate Grenville. Cloudstreet is said to be the ultimate Australian book.
What a great interview. Ms. Wyld seems like a lovely person. And I liked your questions as much as the answers, Simon. I will definitely get this book onto my future reading list and keep an eye out for the graphic novel (sharks! yay!).
I like your new design very much.
Evie Wylde? I wonder why I’ve missed this one, Judging by the Amazon reviews she’s made quite an impact.
I’m not all that up on Australian novels, but agree that the Idea of Perfection was excellent
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Enjoyed this interview. I’ll have to see if Ms Wyld’s book is available in the US. And I may end up looking for one or two of the books she recommended as well.
I’m certainly going to have to read Evie’s book now, anyone who rates Tim Winton, The ideas of perfection and Peter Temple has my attention!
Really interesting interview Simon. I saw this novel on a few people’s blogs and this has made me want to get a copy.
Must say, love the glam-author shot of Evie at the top too (As I haven’t read the book yet that’s all I’m qualified to comment on :))
Just one final comment from me which is thanks to everyone who has commented and a big, big thanks to Evie for doing this and for giving me lots of future reading to do!
Oh and if you want to win a copy of the book go to my bookish bits from Saturday and have a creative crack at guessing what a bunyip is…
Thanks for drawing my attention to this author and this book – great interview btw! I usually don’t read these things because I’m more interested in the books themselves, but I have to admire an author who loves Cloudstreet!
Thanks so much for the image of stomping around the flat to get into the male character’s heads! A lot of writers seem to start with voices close to their own before moving on to the other gender, but it just seemed so natural in this book.
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