Many months ago, I was asked to participate in a writing meme. Some of my writer friends—Naomi J. Williams, Melissa Ashley, Alison Quigley, and Zenobia Frost—had all been asked by other writers to answer the same series of questions about their forthcoming work. I was excited to be asked, but also a tiny bit uncomfortable, because parts of the activity (“answer the questions and then tag three other people”) conjured up thoughts of chain letters—my discomfort around which I have written about elsewhere.
This is a roundabout and meandering way of explaining why I only just responded to the questions, eons (in internet meme time) after my friends first asked me to join in. I’m sorry for my tardiness, Naomi, Mel, Ali, and Zen, and hope you’ll understand. This explanation might also clarify why I’m not tagging anyone else (but I do encourage other writers to answer the questions on their own blog, if they feel inclined). If you want to know which writers or blogs I am enjoying right now, look at the links at the bottom of this page. Here are the questions:
1. What is the working title of your current/next book?
My current book is Ghost Wife: A Memoir of Love and Defiance.
2. Where did the idea come from?
I suppose the book sprang from the ‘love and defiance’ of the title. I married my partner, Heather, in Toronto City Hall in December 2005. Since we couldn’t officially marry in Australia, I decided to document our wedding journey as a way of making it visible. I didn’t expect that the writing process would also unearth little-known stories about visibility and belonging from a range of places, including stories of my own family, and stories of other women who, decades and centuries ago, lived in marriage-like relationships in the cities and towns in which the book is set.
3. What genre does your book fall under?
It’s a memoir.
4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
It would be an animated movie. An animated musical! I don’t know who would voice Michelle and Heather, but I think we’d find a way to sneak Gillian Anderson in there somehow.
5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
When Michelle travels to Canada to marry her American partner, Heather, she begins to uncover hidden histories that are all around her, and to think about how they have come to shape her.
6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Ghost Wife: A Memoir of Love and Defiance is published by Black Inc. My agent is Lyn Tranter at Australian Literary Management.
7. How long did it take to write your first draft?
That’s a hard question to answer. Maybe two years.
8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Memoirs that are quite meditative and that have a strong focus on another character or characters, apart from the autobiographical narrator. Some memoirs that I have really enjoyed, and that might fit in this category, include Alison Smith’s Name All the Animals, Mark Doty’s Heaven’s Coast, and Mary Karr’s The Liar’s Club.
9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Many things inspired me, among them the work of queer theorists, feminist scholars and activists, autobiography scholars, and other memoirists. The work of historians who have researched and written about queer lives of the past was inspirational, as were the lives of the queer subjects themselves.
10. What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
One reader said it’s the first book she read in one sitting since reading the last Secret Seven book thirty years ago. If that doesn’t pique your interest, I don’t know what will.