The Next Big Thing – Sylvia Petter’s Book. Continuing the link of writers sharing their hopes, dreams and plans, this is a visit from Sylvia Petter, who blogs over at mercsworld.blogspot.com (Merc’s World – writing and ruminations.) Sylvia Petter’s collection of short stories,The Past Present and Back Burning are only part of her work in fiction. She co-edited New Sun Rising: Stories for Japan in 2011 and is at present isinvolved inorganising the 13 International Conference on the Short Story in English (Vienna, July 2014.) Here are her responses to the eight questions:
1 Where did the idea come from for the book?
A newspaper article on finding whale barf which is known in perfume-making as ambergris; horrendous bushfires in Australia; wondering about what home really means; trying to grow Frangipani in Europe and seeing wattle and eucalyptus in France. Well, it’s all in the nose. So, with a lot of ‘what ifs’ I had a first draft.
2 What genre is the book?
I’d say literary fiction with a commercial bent, if I’m lucky.
3 What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a film?
Well, I started the book a while ago and had the actors in mind from the beginning – funny, that, but I had to see them – they are all a bit older now, but here they are: Australian expat Lucy Montalban played by a red-haired Nicole Kidman; her Swiss husband, CEO of a high-tech perfume company in Geneva, played by a younger Jeremy Irons; the Frenchman she meets in Grasse, who lives on the South East coast of Australia and does cottage perfume making, played by Gabriel Byrne.
4 What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
This is really the hardest question! So here goes: A story of love, death and belonging, in which a meeting between anosmic expat Australian, Madame Lucy Montalban and French perfume maker, Gabriel Lacroix, unlocks more than her senses as she discovers a new longing for home, cost what it might.
5 How long did it take to write the first draft of your book?
The first draft came together in about a year. Revisions, though, are taking almost a decade.
6 Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Well, as an expat Australian, and totally dislocated, I seem to experience events from afar very strongly, things like bushfires, whale barf, wattle and eucalyptus. and I guess I’m always questioning identity and the place of home and things like telepathy and the universe’s role in our lives, and right and wrong, and how that’s not always very clear, at least in society’s view.
7 What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Well, it’s set against the background of high-tech perfume making in Geneva and cottage perfume making in the South of France and the South East coast of Australia. There are family secrets, an illicit love affair, a touch of magic realism, an horrendous bushfire and whales.
8 Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
If I’m really happy with it, I’ll send it to my very patient agent in Australia. If it doesn’t fly there, I’ll have a go at submitting in Europe. And if that doesn’t work and I still think it’s fine, then I’ll go the self-publishing route. Time seems to fly faster these days.