Having just read and reviewed When We Have Wings, the debut novel by Australian author Claire Corbett (pictured right), she was kind enough to take time out from writing her next novel to answer a few questions from her home in the Blue Mountains.
What inspired you to write When We Have Wings?My dreams of flying when I was a child; they were so powerful and it seemed as if I knew what it felt like to fly. Then I realised that most people have flying dreams and I thought about this universal longing to feel what it's like to fly.
You seem to have such an amazing passion for flying, when did this start, and can you tell us more about it?
I always loved flying as a child; the power of airplanes impressed me, in the way I think children used to be obsessed with the power of trains. But the real wellspring was watching the eagles and hawks where I lived in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Seeing such majestic birds soaring above you is unforgettable. I so wanted to be one of them.
Did you need to do any research about flight or weather conditions during the writing process?
Yes. I did a huge amount of research, over years, in books and online. I researched birds, flying, cloud formations, weather, physics, slums (for the geography of the City), extreme sports, and even Soviet spacesuits and medals. I had to absorb the information so deeply that it flowed into the story naturally.
Where do you like to write and can you describe your working space?
I write in my study, which I share with my husband. It's long and narrow and crammed with books. And my son's piano.
Do you have a routine for writing, or any particular working habits you've developed?
Family life does not allow for as much of a routine as I'd like. I think most writers who are mothers get very disciplined about using whatever time they can snatch to write.
Are you an avid reader yourself? What books do you enjoy reading?
Yes. I doubt any writer could be anything other than an obsessive reader. I enjoy virtually any kind of book as long as it's well-written. I particularly love AS Byatt, Rohinton Mistry and Alice Munro. I love Iain M Banks' Culture novels. I really enjoy Malcolm Knox's writing and Helen Garner and Amanda Lohrey. Thomas Hardy is one of my favourite novelists and Emily Dickinson and Philip Larkin are my favourite poets. I love Helen Simpson's writing (English short story writer, author of Hey Yeah Right Get A Life - and isn't that a fabulous title?).
How do you feel about e-books and e-readers?
Hmm. I love my iPad and love the idea of fitting many more books into the house on it but don't enjoy novels on it all that much yet. I'm glad When We Have Wings made it into physical form; when you spend so much time writing on computer, the idea of your novel becoming an e-book isn't all that exciting. It doesn't feel like publication.
As an author, are you worried about the recent closure of bookshops?
Yes. I think the industry may end up a bit like the travel industry - probably the mass market shop fronts will go but more elegant stores with specialised knowledge may survive. Each bookstore will have to offer something unique. As every writer has to.
Do you have any events coming up?
Yes, I am looking forward to my book launch at the magnificent Victorian-era Carrington Hotel in Katoomba in the Blue Mountains on July 16th.
Do you feel comfortable in the fantasy genre, or are you looking to expand into other genres in the future?
To be honest, I do not regard When We Have Wings as a fantasy novel, as nothing happens in it that is magical or intended to contravene the laws of physics. Certainly it has science fiction or speculative fiction elements, as well as crossing into crime and literary fiction, so I would say I feel comfortable writing in many genres. I have completed four chapters of a young adult novel and am enjoying writing it so much.
Are you planning to write another novel, and if so are you able to tell us anything about it? Will it include fliers and non-fliers or was When We Have Wings a once-off?
I am working on a new novel which is set on and under the sea (not the YA novel mentioned above, which will have to wait, alas), which is all I can say at the moment. There are no fliers in it. Not yet, anyway. For the moment When We Have Wings stands alone but I'm not ruling anything out.