Wednesday, February 23, 2005


Australian author Anna Tambour has her first novel out from Prime Books in April, in paperback and hardcover. It's called The Spotted Lily. Intense blog following enthusiasts will remember that I was really fond of Tambour's first story collection.

Here's a brief description of the novel.

Angela Pendergast, escapee from the Australian bush, grew up with the smell of hot mutton fat in her hair, the thought of her teeth crunching a cold Tim Tam chocolate biscuit — the height of decadent frivolity. Now, though her tastes have grown and she knows absolutely what she wants, her life is embarrassingly stuck. So when the Devil drops into her bedroom in her sharehouse in inner-city Sydney with a contract in hand, she signs. He's got only a Hell's week to fulfil his side, but in the meantime he must chaperone her — or is it the other way around?

God knows, I'm not a big fan of deal-with-the-Devil stories, but Tambour's such a unique writer that I'm curious to read her approach to the idea.


Anna was kind enough to answer the infamous five questions.

Why should readers pick up your book as opposed to, say, just about anybody else's book?
'Should' is such a liver-cleansing diet, prescribed reading list sentiment. I'd rather readers think, 'I really shouldn't, but . . .'

Does your book have any socially redeeming qualities? If so, what are they?
Horrors! My book would never expose itself to the public in so brazen a manner. It thinks, and I agree, that its qualities or otherwise are best explored in a private relationship between book and reader.

Does your book have any medicinal or mental health value to readers?
Health benefits have been claimed, and felt, from Bunyan's Progress to colonic irrigation and holding metal balls in one's hand. So readers must be their own physicians.

Assume your book has been filed under "Ages 8 to 12" in the children's section, perhaps by mistake, perhaps not. How horrified do you imagine a child would be after reading your book, and why? How many years of therapy would the child take to recover from the experience?
Children are tough as dried gristle. They have to be to survive witches, anti-smoking graphics, and the prospect of being turned into a lump of salt for disobeying a nonsensical injunction. It's adults who get tenderized, their sensibilities thin and frail as a piece of rice paper--who can tremble with horror at the very thought of a book they often haven't even read. Therapy? Useless. Cure? Perhaps a strong dose of water.

If no one buys your book and you are unable to continue publishing your fiction due to the intense vilification that occurs in the media, what line of work will you go into?
Intense vilification has been the lifeline to many a book. Indifference is the great drowner. But to answer your question, if my living depended on what I've made in fiction sales, I couldn't answer your question directly. You'd have to ask a medium.