by Kim Kelly
MEET THE AUTHOR IN MILLTHORPE
Our Millthorpe Pop-Up is a celebration of Australian storytelling, our books all gathering together in a little gold-rush era village with stories whispering from every wild colonial verandah post.
Welcome, Natalie! Now, if you were to create a story of Millthorpe, with its many layers of history – from the Wiradjuri wars to boutique stores – what might you tell us about the place?
I really enjoy historical fiction. I like a story being interwoven among the history of a place as the backdrop. I’d most likely want to write about the establishment of the town, the early settlers and developing a potato farming industry in the area. I’d focus on two primary families. I’d have one succeeding and one struggling to survive and who knows, I might even throw a little romance between the families and their eldest children?
Please tell us about the wonderful book you’ll be bringing to the Millthorpe Pop-Up.
Lexie’s Village – A New Kind of Family came about after I’d had my egg and sperm donor child, Alexis, at age forty-seven. When she was turning one and I’d been unsuccessful giving her a sibling myself, I still had so many embryos remaining – twenty-four to be exact. I decided I’d donate them to other struggling Australians but would stipulate they stay in touch to ensure my daughter would know her siblings, as she grew up.
What ensued was a rollercoaster ride that was surreal at times and I knew I had to document it. I’d been offered TV media coverage and when I saw the response from people to our very special story, I knew I had to write about it in more detail than what had been conveyed in the ‘Australian Story’ and ‘The Project’ episodes.
There was a lot of interest in what happened afterwards: who were the people that became recipients and who had been successful and how many babies were in Lexie’s Village now. There was also a fair bit of misunderstanding around exactly what I was doing, with quite a bit of judgement without all the facts. I wanted to get the full story out there for people to read before judging. I also wanted to build awareness for embryo donation and to help break down any barriers or potential future discrimination associated with donor children.
Some say it takes a village to raise a child. Through love, hope and determination, through joyous successes and agonising setbacks, we have formed a close‑knit community that is choosing to make that village a new kind of family. We share all of this in the book and the sequel, Lexie’s Village – The Family Tree, which will be coming out in late 2018.
What’s your favourite Australian story – be it a novel, a film, or legend? Or even an inspirational person?
A B Facey’s A Fortunate Life. It’s is an autobiography, chronicling Facey’s early life, his experiences in the Gallipoli campaign of World War One and his return to civilian life. He talks of his extraordinary life of hardship, loss, friendship and love and is the type of story that inspires me, an everyday Australian, being extraordinary.
Describe the view from your writing window today.
I’m actually not in my home office today. I’m sitting at the dining table, as landscapers have taken over the back half of the house. They are frantically trying to finish off the work before Lexie’s fourth birthday this weekend. There is hammering, dirt and crap everywhere and I’m trying to concentrate on work and not freak out about how much I still have to do to for the party. No-one wants to disappoint a bunch of four-year-olds!
If you were to write the Great Australian Novel where might you begin?
I think any great novel, be it Australian or any nationality, needs to start from a meaningful and sincere place. If you’re passionate and believe in what you’re writing, I find it writes itself, versus taking on something that you think might be a best seller but you’re not connected to it or passionate about it. Being true to yourself and not worrying about what people will think is pivotal.
Hear, hear! And now it must be time for 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?
I’m looking forward to the chance to enjoy many of the amazing wares Millthorpe has to offer, however, if pushed to pick just one, I always love a good Devonshire tea when I get out of the city.
In terms of Australian authors, I’m pretty psyched to be working on a pop-up book store with some wonderful Australian Authors, such as Kim Kelly. The chance to get to spend some quality time with them over the weekend, is just one of the appeals to doing this.
Well, cheers to that! Thanks for bringing your story love to Millthorpe, Natalie.
Find out more about Natalie and Lexie’s Village here.