Jag har insett att när det gäller författare som jag verkligen gillar, eller idoliserar om vi ska vara ärliga, så vill jag helst inte närma mig dem. Inte få signerade böcker, inte träffas och upptäcka ev konstiga, personliga saker om dem. De ska fortsätta vara författare och stå för sina verk där borta i distansen. Jag fortsätter vara en läsare. Det blir en bra fördelning.
Av den anledningen har den här intervjun suttit så långt inne. Jag läste ”Jellicoe Road” i april förra året. Sen dess har jag bloggat och twittrat massor samt undrat över massa saker i den, och om Melina Marchetta. Slukat hennes blogg och diverse andra intervjuer jag läst med henne. Men att jag själv skulle mejla frågor? Nej, du, det tror jag inte.
Detta har gällt ända tills jag pga X-publishing som ger ut svenska ”Jellicoe Road” fick ändan ur vagnen. Jag var ”tvungen” att mejla. Så här är det nu, måndagsmötet med Melina Marchetta!
Det blir ett ovanligt långt och lite annorlunda måndagsmöte, men det får man kosta på en dag som denna tycker jag.
What are you reading right now?
”Friday Brown” by Australian author Vikki Wakefield. Just finished it and loved it.
How did you get the idea for Jellicoe?
It came from a love of boarding school stories and film mysteries told in a non linear way.
What was it like writing it? With all the clues, symbols and connections that you don’t understand the first time, it seems quite tough to patch it all together?
When the character of Taylor Markham first came to me twenty years ago I kept on getting her story wrong. I always knew it was about Taylor and that she lived in a boarding school, but everything else had to change. Then I read ”Holes” by Louis Sacher and was so excited by the structure.
Writing Jellicoe was like playing dominoes. There are three major plot lines in this novel: the territory wars between the boarding school, townies and the cadets; the story of the five teenagers who lived in the area almost twenty years ago; and the love story between Taylor and Jonah Griggs. All three strands, and the time period they represent, are entwined. I knew that if I got one plot strand wrong, the whole story would collapse. So I think the key to enjoying the novel is to understand that it is a mystery and the reason the reader may not know what’s going on at first is because Taylor doesn’t know either. But I promise it all pays off.
I’ve read your other novels (except the fantasy), and I know that authors never want to state favorites, but don’t you feel that JR is special? I love Francesca and The Piper’s son, they’re both amazing, but JR is so complex and so rich.
The one thing I remember when I finished Jellicoe was how proud I was that I pulled it off. It was the first novel I wrote that really took me away from the urban world I had written about in my first two novels set in the multi-cultural Sydney I’ve always lived in. Jellicoe felt like absolute story telling and my readers’ reaction to it still overwhelms me. It’s the novel that has polarized people as well. I’ve read people say that they hate it and threw the book across the room in frustration. Others have loved it so much they’ve read it more than ten times.
On your webpage you write about the process of turning JR into a film. Will it truly happen? Do you have any idea of when? And what about Jonah Griggs, who will play him??
All such difficult questions to answer except to say that I truly believe the film script is strong and it’s very much an adaptation. Which means that it’s not identical to the novel, but the important things have stayed the same. Taylor and Jonah are still the same characters and Taylor is still a boarder and Jonah is still head of the cadets and Chaz is still head of the Townies. Taylor was still dumped on the Jellicoe Road when she was eleven and there’s still a territory war every year and Taylor still has to unravel the mystery of how she ended up in Jellicoe and who her parents are. All the strong antagonistic friendship groups are there as well.
But what’s changed is the structure because I don’t have Taylor’s first person voice from the novel giving the audience clues. At this point, for example, the script doesn’t begin with the car accident. It begins with Taylor being driven to Jellicoe by her mother when she’s eleven. That’s a defining moment. And the incident with the Hermit doesn’t happen when she’s younger, it happens in the present day. As a result, it has all the right turning points and twists and visual story telling needed in a film.
Once or twice I see an actor who I think is perfect for Jonah and Taylor but the producer and director haven’t started looking yet and I know they want to be extensive in their search so it’s probably no use thinking of one person yet. I think the hardest characters to cast will be Santangelo and Fitz.
Speaking of Griggs, and all your male leads. Jonah, Will, Tom, plus Ben Cassidy, Chaz and the minor characters. They’re all so…! Do you also fall in love with your characters as you write? (”Also” meaning that the audience does when reading about them.)
I don’t know if I fall in love with them, but I do love them. Some seem more real than others and because Tom (”The piper’s Son”) had a whole novel to himself, I feel very close to him as a character because he lived in my head a long time. I don’t love them on their own though. I love their relationships. What makes Jonah Griggs such a popular well-loved character is based on how he feels about Taylor. Same with Will (”Saving Francesca”). If it was the story of Will and another girl, say his ex girlfriend, it wouldn’t be as strong. It’s who a writer places a character with, and I don’t mean only in the capacity of girlfriend, but also friendship group. Tom and Will’s relationship, for example, has a great dramatic tension in both ”Saving Francesca” and ”The Piper’s Son” because they dislike each other intensely, but they love the world Francesca has created for them. Same with Chaz and Jonah and Ben from Jellicoe. Would they work without Taylor and Raffy? I don’t think so.
You picked up Tom from Francesca in Piper’s son (and Ben Cassidy!). Will anything similar be done with the cast from JR? A new novel that features one of them?
I’m working on a TV series (very early early days) and the main character is Jessa McKenzie when she’s 17 (a minor character from Jellicoe). It’s set in the Jellicoe Boarding School, but doesn’t include a war with the townies or cadets (although Tilly Santangelo is very important to the story). I can’t talk too much about it, but we have producers and we think it’s original and are hoping to bring it to a network and get some development money.
Other than that, the only character who has his own book is Jonah’s little brother, Danny. It’s called ”The Gorgon in the Gully” and it’s for 8 year olds. Jonah makes a cameo appearance or two.
I get many questions about Jimmy Hailer and other characters, but I never force a character back into my life. They have to come voluntarily. So the answer to your question is, not yet.
Lots of readers react on Hannah in JR, thinking she’s so hard on Taylor. She keeps her distance, doesn’t say anything when she disappears. Why? Couldn’t she have kept her promise of not being a mother but still behaved a little… warmer?
I’ve said over and over again that adults do all the wrong things in my novels for all the right reasons. For me, Hannah is a grief stricken woman who still has not dealt with her loss. She’s very broken, but I still think she provided Taylor with so much, especially a sense of home. It’s why Taylor is heart broken when Hannah disappears. Because despite all Hannah’s holding back, she was still able to convey a great love.
Do you think you have a theme(s) that you return to, intentionally or not?
Every one of my novels are about identity, whether cultural or within a family or friendship group. Every one of my novels is also about some sort of community.
Your fantasy-trilogy, I need to ask about it. I’m not a fantasy-fan, quite the opposite even though I’ve tried. Do you think that you’ll return to writing ”non-fantasy” after this? Please say yes. Any plans?
All I can say about the fantasy trilogy, is that I wrote it for non fantasy readers and that if the relationship between Jonah and Taylor and Hannah and the Brigadier appeals to you, as well as the friendship groups, then they are all present in the fantasy novels. Just with a different setting.
Vi har också en spoiletråd för att diskutera ”Jellicoe Road”.
Författarfoto: David Pearce.
Nu tar vi sommarlov från måndagsmötet och kommer tillbaka i augusti. Vi tipsar om arkivet där det finns massor av finfina intervjuer från årens lopp.
Författarfoto: David Pearce.