Carmel Bird’s latest collection of short fiction includes an extended essay detailing the origins of the twenty new stories. The first in Spineless Wonders’ new imprint, Fiction Plus, this collection provides rare insights into the creative processes in a frank and conversational essay by one of Australia’s best-loved storytellers.
In her launch of My Hearts Are Your Hearts, Gabrielle Lord said, ‘To read these stories is to know that one is in the presence of a master writer, someone who has not only unlocked the word hoard but has polished her craft.’
Below is an extract from the ‘The Story of the Stories’ on the short story, ‘My Beloved is Mine and I am His‘
I wrote ‘My Beloved is Mine and I am His’ in response to a news story about the Anglican Church. So this was not a tiny scrap of inspiration, as is sometimes the case with my stories – this was a whole big narrative. I no longer remember what was in the news and what I invented, but I don’t think that matters. My story exists for itself. It tells of cruelty and transgression, and the breaking of vows, and the breaking of the laws of love. There’s a terrible foreshadowing of what’s to come in the embroidery Patricia, the main character, does as a child. I wonder how I thought that up? It’s the 1950s this time, in rural Australia, just before the ‘sexual revolution’, and the narrative moves kind of relentlessly from go to woe, taking different points of view from time to time, different voices, offering flashbacks too. Even stream of consciousness – what an old-fashioned term that is. Sometimes it is told in the past tense, sometimes in the present. The story itself demanded this of the writing. As I say this, the story sounds complicated – it isn’t – it required those devices, but they fall naturally in with the narrative itself, with the characters, with the history. The tone of this story is completely soft and un-ironic, creating an atmosphere of strange and quiet horror. The ending of the story grew out of the tragic, damaged character of Patricia. I think it shocked the character, Moira; it might shock you; it shocked me.
To read twenty new stories and the story of their origins by Carmel Bird, purchase a copy here from our website or ask for it at your favourite bookstore. Join us for a discussion of ‘My Beloved is Mine and I Am His’ on the Spineless Wonders online bookclub on Facebook, August 13, 2015 from 8pm to 9pm.
Bookclub subscriber deals, valid until Dec 2015, are still available. See here for details.