Lina is enchanting, vibrant but wilful. And her eyes betray her for what she truly is a witch. With her childhood companion, Damek, she has grown up privileged and spoilt and the pair are devoted to each other to the point of obsession. But times are changing. Vendetta is coming. And tragedy is stalking the halls of the Red House. A stunning new novel by Alison Croggon, inspired by the Gothic classic Wuthering Heights.
Alison Croggon is an award-winning poet whose work has been published extensively in anthologies and magazines internationally. She has written widely for theatre, and her plays and opera libretti have been produced all around Australia. Alison is also an editor and critic. She lives in Melbourne with her husband Daniel Keene, the playwright, and their three children.
Walker Books Australia
Author: Alison Croggon
Interview with Alison Croggon
Question: When and where did the idea for Black Spring come to you?
Alison Croggon: It's always hard to pinpoint when an idea occurs. It usually rises up as an idle thought, and at that point I realise that the seeds of it have been lying around for years. In this case, it comes from a very old love for the writing of Emily Bronte, especially for her poems. I started writing Black Spring about four or five years ago and, as usually happens, I put it away and waited to see there was anything more. I began serious work on the book around three years ago.
Question: What did you enjoy most about creating the character of Lina?
Alison Croggon: Lina was very clear to me from the beginning: self-willed, damaged, charming, passionate, infuriating. Although my (now grown up) daughter will probably tell me off me for saying so, one persistent image behind the novel was of her sitting on the floor as a two year old, having one of her epic tantrums. I said to her: 'Don't be a yukky girl!" And she said, 'But I want to be a yukky girl!" That stuck with me: I certainly never said anything like that to my daughter again. Why shouldn't she be yukky? Girls don't have permission to be selfish about their desires, or even to express them: they are taught to put their desires aside, always to put other people first. It was fun writing a character who refuses to do anything of the kind. I especially enjoyed writing Lina's diary entries, where you hear her voice directly. It was like writing a storm.
Question: How difficult is it for you to change your writing style from poetry to playwright and novels?
Alison Croggon: It's not difficult – it seems more like a natural evolution of my various interests - although sometimes all the different things I do can be a bit exhausting when they all happen at once. Whenever I think of a new work, its form comes with it. Some things want to be poems, others want to be novels.
Question: How much of your real life inspires your writing?
Alison Croggon: My writing is seldom autobiographical in any direct sense. But of course my life is all through my work, in that writing is an imaginative response to the world I live in, and my experience of it. Black Spring stems from many things, mostly trivial, insignificant events, from my life as a woman and as a writer, but of course they are all transformed in the story. Some writers say their work is 'spiritual autobiography": that seems to me to be a fair description!
Question: What do you hope readers take from Black Spring?
Alison Croggon: Mainly, I hope they enjoy reading it. I hope they will be moved by the same things that moved me when I wrote it. My first desire is always to write a story that catches a reader's imagination. What they make of it is up to them.
Question: What advice do you have for an immerging writing?
Alison Croggon: I can never get past advice that is very boring. The more I learn about writing – and I am learning all the time – the more I realise that it's all about the detail: detail of imagination, details of grammar and spelling. To be a writer, and especially if you want to write novels, you have to be very patient and stubborn. It's a lot of hard labour, and something you can only do if you really love it. Sometimes I think it's a crazy thing to do with my life! Most importantly, you have to listen to the feelings that make you want to write, which are always more complicated than you realise. Also, read a lot, and read widely. The great thing about writing is that nothing is irrelevant, and no experience is wasted.