Goodbye Sweetheart is the name of the latest book by Marion Halligan, but we heard Marion in all her glory talking about all sort of things relating to her life as an author.
I first heard Marion speak at the first NWF about memoir and she fascinated me then, and she still does now. I haven't read any of her full books, but a few of her short stories. I want to read some of her stories, but I have so many other books to read, I know I don't have time for her at the moment, but I know I will soon. I am a Librarian, not being able to read everything is an occupational hazard!
Despite all this I just love hearing Marion speak, she looks like someone's posh granny, in fact she reminds me of my own grandmother. She is a little bit posh, very well spoken and presented. However, she has this sassy and spicey side to her which belies her appearance...I love that! She'll be talking about something and Bam, a swear word or a sexy tidbit, I love people like that!
The talk started referencing the fact that the Australian Women's Weekly refused to publish one of Marion's short stories some years ago. She was told there was "too much unease" for AWW readers within her story. You have no idea how much this amused me! She had already been published in literary journals and knew that Sylvia Plath has tried to publish in similar magazines and did not have success either. Marion had given up on AWW and was ok with it she smirked. Of course she is, my heart just melted a little there and then.
Although she did say she didn't like the title of Literary Fiction, but she is aware she doesn't really do happy endings.
She likes to explore grief and said she loved Joan Didion's Year of magical Thinking...tick...so did I! In fact I adore Joan's writing.
Marion changed publishers when she was told her book, The Fog Garden, had too much sex in it. It was a fictional take on her husbnad dying, but she had made a lot of it up. She was refused a Miles Franklin nomination because of this, people suggested it was not fiction. Marion had spoken about this, the fine line between memoir as fiction, in the first NWF.
She then referenced her actual memoir, A Taste of Memory, about food, travels and so forth, it is a memoir in essays.
She likes to write about grief as it is a part of life. The worst thing you can say to a grieving person is, 'don't worry, you'll get over it, it will pass." She said she didn't want that when her husband died, she earned her grief and she wanted that. Death is a fact in our lives.
Death is a catalyst in her new book. She likes her characters, even those that might not be that nice. She feels that 'novels are ways of asking people to think about their lives.'
There was a small digression here about naming characters, and she admitted to judging people on the names they give their children...I do the same!
Marion also spoke about sense of place within novels and find those that work best are based on some sort of reality, that is concrete details of something real, you get the essence of that in the work, and you believe it.
Marion doesn't do much research, just uses what is in her head...and what a remarkable head it is.