Author Interview: Melina Marchetta

March 7, 2011 Uncategorized 8

Melina Marchetta Interview
and book giveaway

I’m incredibly honored to have the fabulous Melina Marchetta here on the blog today. Her most recent US release, The Piper’s Son, is set to hit stores tomorrow. It is a companion of sorts to Saving Francesca. I really loved this book. You can see me rave about it here. Now, without further rambling from me… the interview:

I just have to say, this book… wow! The Mackee family just drew me in. As a reader I felt so emotionally invested. It’s very powerful.  What was it like as a writer? Was it emotionally hard to write?

Definitely emotionally hard to write, but not technically. Technically I used two locations, much the same way as Saving Francesca and it was probably the easiest to write on that level. So that helped a lot.  It meant I could handle the emotional side of things without worrying that it wasn’t working structurally. But I’ve said before that the Finch-Mackees almost broke me.  It’s why they are probably the funniest characters I’ve written. I needed humour to get through it all. In a strange way I actually think TPS is the most humorous of my novels.

The Piper’s Son picks up five years after Saving Francesca. Did you aways plan to revisit those characters? Why Tom?

Not at all. I tend to leave the endings of my novels up in the air so it’s up to the reader what they think happens to the characters.  But Tom came back to me five years later.  He didn’t haunt me for five years. He just walked in through the door and I could not get rid of him. There were a few hard decisions to make, especially with regards to where Francesca was in this story. But I didn’t force any of the characters back and as a result they came back on their own.  Even Siobhan and Jimmy in their own way.  I’ve said over and over again that Siobhan and Jimmy’s absence speaks loudly. They are not forgotten. They are part of many of the conversations and they are as much part of Tom’s story and his recovery and future.

For me, Tom’s aunt Georgie kind of “stole the show.” Did you always know this book would have dual narrators? What drew you to Georgie?

I’m glad you’ve said that. I get a bit irritated when someone implies that young people won’t want Georgie’s story because she’s of a different generation. I’ve had a great response from teenagers about her. I really wanted her journey and Tom’s to be similar. Both ruining relationships, both with a great capacity to love and holding everyone together in the end. Georgie is my age and I wanted to give her a voice and sexuality and anger and humour because I’m sometimes disappointed by the way women my age are depicted.

Do you see yourself returning to the Saving Francesca crew? Perhaps Justine and her violin boy? **wink**wink**

In 2003 I had no idea that there would be a companion novel to Saving Francesca.  I can say the same thing about 2011. There is no companion novel to The Piper’s Son. That doesn’t mean there never will be, but it’s certainly not part of my plan.  I did have fun though including Ben the violinist from Jellicoe.  Jellioce fans love it, because it’s like this secret association they have with the novel.

I’ve read that your next book is a follow up to Finnikin on the Rock. Is it difficult to switch between contemporary fiction and fantasy? Are there other genres you’re interested in writing?

Not difficult, but I certainly find writing fantasy harder than writing realism.  My strengths are dialogue, characterisation and relationships.  Fantasy requires world building and descriptive language.  But I decided long ago that in writing fantasy I’m going to stick what I’m good at and improve what I’m not good at. Some readers have said that the world of Finnikin was so real to them that they can’t get it out of their head. I’ve read others say that my world building isn’t up to scratch. I do take that on board, but I still tell the story I want to tell the way I want to tell it. I’ve always trusted my own instinct and it’s worked for me.

I’ve heard a number of authors say that they can’t read other books while they are crafting their story. Is this true for you? Are there certain things you must or can’t do while writing?
I tend to keep away from reading fantasy when I’m writing fantasy and sometimes too much social realism can be overwhelming when you’re writing a novel like The Piper’s Son. I have to admit that reading becomes the casualty of writing for me.

And, since I’m always looking for my next book, read any good YA books lately?

This year has already been a big writing year for me, but I managed to read a few novels over the Christmas break.  There’s an Australian novel called Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley that’s coming out in the US in 2012. It’s truly wonderful and I’ve handed it out to so many people and they’ve loved it.  There’s another Australian novel that came out a couple of years ago, out in the US this year.  I think the US title is The Returning by Christine Hinwood. It’s not quite fantasy and not quite historical but I remember bursting out crying at the end from the sheer beauty of the experience.  I treasure moments like that.  Finnikin made a few mock Printz lists and I remember someone writing that Shipbreaker put Finnikin to shame so obviously I had to read the novel that put mine to shame! Shipbreaker is a wonderful novel. It was one of the most original stories I’d read for a while and I really cared for those characters and was sad to see them go out of my life. Thankfully I didn’t feel shamed. I just felt like I was in good company.

Many thanks to Ms. Marchetta and Candlewick Press for giving me this opportunity! I highly recommend checking out any of Melina Marchetta’s books!

The Gorgon in the Gully (Middle Grade)

Also, because Candlewick Press is made of awesome they have given me TWO copies of The Piper’s Son to giveaway. I’m jealous! I borrowed a copy so I don’t have one yet! Just fill out the form below. They will be shipping from the publisher. US only. One entry per person. 


8 Responses to “Author Interview: Melina Marchetta”

  1. A.J.

    Loved this interview!

    I’ve already read TPS, and I normally don’t reread a book so soon after finishing it, but I’m in the mood again for TPS. So I cannot wait to own a copy! (And of course I just LOVED the connection it also had with Jellicoe Road. hehe)

    Also can’t wait for the Finnikin sequels. Really excited! <3

    OMG I really want to read Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley! I heard it was great, and I read her other novel A Little Wanting Song a couple weeks ago and loved it! Glad to hear Graffiti Moon is coming out in the US. :3

  2. Alex (A Girl, Books, OtherThings)

    Great Interview!!
    I really hope there is a Jimmy book in the future 🙁 I shall keep my fingers crossed.

    And I’ll think I’ll read the Finnikin sequels too, even though fantasy isn’t my genre of choice, I still liked Fin.

    I hadn’t heard about Graffiti Moon – about it coming to the US – but I’ve heard it’s a great book.

  3. bibliophile brouhaha

    This review is absolutely wonderful!! You asked great questions, Heidi! I really love that she mentioned Georgie’s point-of-view – I’ve been enjoying reading her 🙂 PS – did you know that a recipe for the famous S-biscuits is online? My hubs found it for me online – I’ll link to it in my SF review 😉

  4. LinWash

    Great interview! I couldn’t be more thrilled that Melina wrote a follow-up to one of my favorite books. I loved Saving Francesca. I can’t wait for The Piper’s Son!

  5. Ashley

    I’m so jealous that you got to interview Melina Marchetta! I’m seriously in love with her writing! It’s been about a year since I read Jellicoe Road, and I totally missed that it was *that* Ben!! Now, I seriously need to go reread both of them immediately!

    This is one of the best author interviews I’ve read. Thank you!!!

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