The Adversary author on inspiration and essential reading.
What was it about The Adversary that demanded it be written?
Some of my favourite and most meaningful parts of life have so far been friendships and alone time. There aren't many stories about these things, so I wanted to write a book that would feel like a romance, but is secretly about different models of friendship. It was a storytelling challenge; I had to work to find ways of talking about friendship and alone time without treating them as problems, and instead reading them as ways to structure life. Because gay fiction has a history of subverting existing narratives – as well as conforming to them, but that's another story – I thought it would be a good way to approach this task.
If you could be mentored by any writer, living or deceased, who would you choose?
Very few writers are fit to give advice, if history tells us anything. Most of them like to give it, so don't be tricked.
Name 5 books everyone should read in their lifetime (and why).
- The Slaves of Solitude by Patrick Hamilton – a mean, funny book about human nature; full of needy people and cruelty but it always leaves you laughing.
- The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison – super dense and jewel-like; nobody should be able to write like that about this kind of material, but she did.
- Orlando by Virginia Woolf – a crazy book about what it's like to be a person in time.
- Axiomatic by Maria Tumarkin – a new and tricky book that makes you look differently at a billion aspects of society, especially Australian society.
- The Transit of Venus by Shirley Hazzard – the best Australian novel that not enough people read.
Ronnie Scott shares a playlist to accompany his stunning debut novel, The Adversary.
The Booker Prize winning author answers our questions about his strangely beautiful story about hope and love and orange-bellied parrots: The Living Sea of Waking Dreams.
The 2019 Penguin Literary Prize winner on her inspiration, writing process and club sandwiches.
This November we revisited Louisa May Alcott’s towering work of American fiction.
In Eley Williams’ The Liar’s Dictionary, we’re forced to interrogate the very foundations of ‘truth’.
Charlotte McConaghy reveals how a quest to write about the natural world ultimately led to a climate change story.
Gather your book club and find out why everyone is talking about The Last Migration.
We’re delighted to announce the publication of Richard Flanagan’s new novel, The Living Sea of Waking Dreams, in October 2020.
In June we mined the depths of the human psyche via Roald Dahl’s 1979 classic short story collection.
Explore the cycles of love, loss and regret, that can follow a family through the years, with your reading group.
In March we revisited Gabriel Garcia Márquez’s ageless 1967 masterpiece, One Hundred Years of Solitude.
Liam Pieper reflects on subverting the self-actualisation narrative, in Sweetness and Light.