by Kim Kelly
MEET THE AUTHOR IN MILLTHORPE
Our Millthorpe Pop-Up is a celebration of Australian writing, our books all gathering together in a little gold-rush era village with stories whispering from every wild colonial verandah post. Now, Kelly, if you were to set a tale in Millthorpe, with its many layers of history – from the Wiradjuri wars to boutique stores – what sort of a tale might you tell?
My book A Mother’s Confession is set in a fabulously quirky, fictional village called ‘Milton Falls’, which is located somewhere near both Orange and Bathurst…sound familiar? That particular story is an exploration of some pretty intense issues and the plot is driven by the blessings and complications of small-town living. For all of these reasons, it just didn’t feel right to name a real place for the setting, but in my mind as I was writing, ‘Milton Falls’ looked a lot like our lovely Millthorpe. So…I think I have already done this, although perhaps in a roundabout way!
Please tell us about the wonderful tales you’ll be bringing to the Millthorpe Pop-Up from far and wide.
I’ll only be travelling from my home in Orange, but the story I’ll be bringing is set half a world away in Alabama in the US. Here’s a little taste of my new book, Before I Let You Go.
As children, Lexie and Annie were incredibly close. Bonded by the death of their beloved father, they weathered the storms of life together. When Lexie leaves home to follow her dream, Annie is forced to turn to her leather-bound journal as the only place she can confide her deepest secrets and fears…
As adults, sisters Lexie and Annie could not be more different. Lexie is a successful doctor and happily engaged. Annie is an addict – a thief, a liar and unable to remain clean. When Annie’s newborn baby is in danger of being placed in foster care, Annie picks up the phone to beg her sister for help. Will Lexie agree to take in her young niece? And how will Annie survive, losing the only thing in her life worth living for?
What’s your favourite Australian story – be it a novel, a film, or legend? And why do you love it?
I have a very soft spot for the novel Playing Beatie Bow, by Ruth Park. I read it when I was a child and was so absorbed in the story it felt like I’d fallen back into the 1800’s myself. Perhaps that book even made a permanent connection in my mind between that setting and great storytelling, because I love to take a retreat to The Rocks when I’m working on a first draft. My novels are generally set in the modern era, and not always set here in Australia, but there’s just something inspiring about getting to work in a place steeped in so much history.
How lovely. And what’s the view from your storytelling window today?
In the real world, I’m looking out through my window towards some stunning gum trees in the distance and a cluster of wattles just behind my back fence. But right beside that window is the window I’ve been spending far more time staring at today, and that’s my current manuscript on my monitor – today it’s got me staring back 1938, to a tiny village in Lesser Poland…where the opening scenes to my 2019 novel are set.
Can’t wait to find out all about this new novel. Now, if you were to write the Great Australian Novel, where might you begin?
One of the wonderful things about this country is that you could traverse a dozen or more environs and still not capture the breadth of it. If I were to write the ‘Great Australian Novel’, it would have to be an epic saga that spanned the inner-city and the suburbs and grasslands and mountains and rainforest and beaches and…well, you get the idea! But now that I think about it, I’d probably start the story in The Rocks…
Of course! After all that travelling, it’s time for a cup of tea. Fortunately, Millthorpe has plenty of options, from country pub to hatted restaurant, and several gorgeous cafes. So what’s your yen? Coffee and cake? Beer and chips? Coq au vin and Pinot Grigio? And while we’re here, which Australian author would you like to invite to your table?
Well…this might seem an odd answer to this question, but I’d love to sit down with the madcap children’s fiction duo Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton. Firstly, because their books inspired my son’s love of reading so I’d love to buy them a drink and say a heartfelt thanks – and secondly, because I’ve been reading their crazy tales with my kids for a few years now and I just reckon they’d be great fun to chat to!
Well, cheers to that! Thanks for bringing your story love to Millthorpe, Kelly.
Find out more about Kelly Rimmer here.