All posts filed under: research

See What I Have Done Q & A: Foyles Edition

I’ve had the good fortune of being asked many questions about See What I Have Done lately so I thought I would share some of them with you in the next few posts.  Critical reflection can be a tricky thing. When I was writing the book I wasn’t always aware of what I was doing and often felt I was writing through intuition alone. It was foolish to think this but there you have it. If you’d asked me why I had made some of the narrative choices I had I’m not sure I would’ve been able to tell you.  But distance is the thing that affords hindsight. Since the book has come out I’ve been forced to reflect on process on a different level and as difficult as it has been (I still don’t know why I did particular things) it’s had a surprising flow on effect on my current novel in progress: I write with that same intuition but question myself more regularly, seem to have developed a better bullshit detector with things …

When Emma Borden Became a Narrator 

Previously I told you about Bridget’s inclusion in See What I Have Done as a narrator, told you the way your manuscript changes over time can be a miraculous thing. This beast of words that has shape shifted so much over the years has been able to adapt, in various degrees of success, to whatever ‘new visions’ I had for it.  I think I’ll continue the theme of process and drafting, especially as the Australian publishing date of See What I Have Done draws nearer (and as I try to wade through the thicket of mush that is the new manuscri ptwhich is making me have all kinds of self doubt). This post is one of a many I’ll probably do about Emma Borden, Lizzie’s older sister. I’m somebody’s older sister and so I thought even on a loose base level, I might be able to identify and draw out something from Emma, explore  that kind of relationship to a sibling, the way you become a protector.  In a notebook dated 29 December 2012 I …

The Borden Box: rediscovering the case

It’s been a while since I’ve had to deal with Lizzie as a character, had to figure out how to move her from A to B, think about how she would feel about a particular situation. It was the break I needed. In the space between edits, I’ve read quite a few books and have ripped a data-hole in my Netflix account. There’s been a different kind of break too. My dreams have normalised. Somewhat. Last night I dreamt I was cutting people’s fingers off, ate those small delicacies then spat them out, watched them regenerate. This is nothing compared to what I dream when Lizzie is around.

Will the real Lizzie Borden please stand up

This past week I have been talking about Lizzie a lot. When this happens, she tends to dig deep holes in my mind, leaves a trail of herself behind. I’ve been dreaming of her again: there she is at the end of my bed, there she is eating a scone, eating jam, there she is at my breakfast table, there she is holding my hand. That warmth. It wakes me. I was in Sydney last week. I blame that trip for Lizzie’s return. Every time I thought about Lizzie, how I wrote my book, all that, I couldn’t shake the uncomfortable feeling that pinged at the the base of my neck: what part of Lizzie is me and what part of me is Lizzie? Let me explain: I think it’s natural for writers to inject some of their own experiences into their work, give their characters some real life meat. This is definitely true for me when writing about the Bordens. I needed to find a way into that family and as I started to think about why …

You have no choice but to take the Bordens with you

Over the Christmas/New Year break I took some extra time off work so I could begin and complete the latest draft of See what I have done.  To make things more interesting, I took the Bordens with me to Tasmania with the hope that distance from my usual writing places would allow me to discover a few more things about them. I get sea sick. I remembered this as soon as I stepped onto the Spirit of Tasmania. Needless to say I was ill prepared for the night journey out at sea. As we rocked over waves and my stomach swam toward my chest,  I remembered that Bridget and Lizzie had taken ships to and from Europe. Here was a moment to transpose my experience into the book. I clung to the railing, looked down into depth and tried to see the ocean from their point of view. I wish I could tell you something profound happened. I managed to take this photo of the sun setting over Bass Strait before I was defeated by the sea:   So things …

The Boon of Keening: how being lazy led me to character insights

I’ll say it now, writing is terrible for your health. I’m taking a few weeks off work to work on the novel. The last time I did that, i wrote 70 + hours a week and finished with a severely blocked ear, limited sight in my left eye (I’m already short sighted, so this doesn’t help) and enlarged glands. I was also unable to sleep properly. This happens every time I write in huge concentrated blocks and I’d love to figure out what, if any, is the connection between intensive creativity (or simply longer periods of time of concentration) and the weird eye, ear and throat things I get. I decided this time around, I’d slow it down and try not to injure myself. Two days in, my ear became blocked and by the end of the week my throat looked like goitre city. So i took a morning off to visit my good friend, Netflix, and binge watch the rest of  ‘Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp’ hoping that would help my …