It’s the story of a woman named Jake from Australia who is living on a small sheep farm alone on an unnamed island in the UK. In the night something comes and kills her sheep. She suspects it might be local kids or maybe something more supernatural that lives in the woods. Then we go back into her past as a shearer in Australia, to find out how she came to be alone on the island and what it is she’s hiding from.
Granta Best of Young British Novelist, winner of the Encore and Jerwood, not to mention shortlisted for the Costa and listed for the Baileys. Are you feeling the pressure?
I’m not sure – I don’t know if those things make a difference really to how much pressure I put myself under. When there was none of this while I was working on the first book, I still felt an urgency. You don’t feel like just because you’re on those lists that you’ve made it, or that they mean that you are actually any good. So much of writing fiction is wrestling with the voice that tells you what you’re doing is worthless and self-interested. That’s where the pressure lays.
You once said, “whenever I dream, I dream of Australia.” What is it about Australia that shapes your imagination and the subjects you are drawn to write about?
It’s the place of my childhood – it’s got the smells and the sounds that take instantly back in time. I’m sure everyone has a place like that, even if it’s your nan’s house or a particular park that was important in how you were shaped.
What interests you most about writing?
Trying to understand people a little better.
A graphic novel which will come out in 2015 – about growing up between Australia and the UK and sharks. And I’m working on a written novel too, but it’s too early to say anything about that.
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