Australian author Goldie Goldbloom discusses her debut novel, The Paperbark Shoe, with Lisa Guidarini. The following are selected excerpts from the full interview.
You chose to set the book in your native Australia. Do you believe it would have been as effective if the setting had been, say, the 1930s Dust Bowl in the United States, or was the Australian setting essential?
I'm always excited when someone asks me a question that I haven't been asked before, especially one that makes me think deeply. I don't know enough about rural America to write well about it. The red dirt of Australia is still underneath my fingernails. Themes of isolation and xenophobia and heartbreak and loss are universal, but in a squeaky little corner of my soul, I still want to believe that The Paperbark Shoe had to be set in Western Australia, in Wyalkatchem, in 1943.
How long did it take you to write the book? How many drafts did you go through in the process of polishing it?
When I first started writing The Paperbark Shoe, I thought, well, how hard could it be to write a single page every day? As it turns out, sometimes it can be VERY hard! But I still did it, and so, after about a year and a half, I had finished writing the novel. I write long-hand and type with two fingers, so the process of simply entering the words into the computer is a process of editing for me, and after that I wrote several more drafts (also long-hand!), but all up, I think I was finished in about two years. Maybe two and a half.
Toad is a fascinating character, at once likeable but with serious flaws and unusual proclivities. Was there a particular person, or literary character, who inspired his creation?
Poor Toady. I do love him so. I've got an obsession for old junk, and I came across this photo from the 1920s, of a tiny, skeletal, humble man standing next to his bride, who is at least two feet taller than him. They both look incredibly awkward, and he is twisting himself inside out with embarrassment. He's got a handkerchief mashed in his hand, and she is looking off at something in another direction. I kept on misplacing this photo while I was writing the novel, but every time I found it, I was reminded again that Toad is a real person. Just not a real person I happen to know.
Finally, what are your thoughts on the rise of eBooks. Do you see them as a threat to traditional books and publishing, or a positive and natural progression?
Being someone who grew up sleeping on actual books, alphabetizing ancient leather-bound stuff in my grandmother's study, and actually owning something like 40,000 physical books myself, it's hard to see the attraction of eBooks. Remember: this is someone who writes everything down by hand and who reads and writes in the bathtub. The bathtub is NOT a place for an eBook. My Mum used to say ANY reading is good reading. I'd hate to think that eBooks are just going to be bought by the people who are currently buying physical books, and that, as a result, my beautiful, honest, lovely, weighty, stained and imperfect, smelling of memory, REAL books disappear. But if eBooks are so easy and accessible that other people, those 80% of folks who have not bought or read a book in over a year, end up reading more than they would otherwise, then that's a good outcome. But remember the bathtub. Please.
To read more, click on the link for the full interview.
This article is from the June 15, 2011 issue of BookBrowse Recommends.
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