Magdalena Ball, author of Repulsion Thrust, is here to discuss her writing. Welcome, Magdalena.
Good morning, Susan!
I'm pretty forthcoming, so don't have a lot of secrets, but readers might be surprised to learn that I swim a kilometre every (warm) day. I do yoga when it's too cold to swim. Sometimes if I'm feeling blocked or sluggish, I'll go for a swim and everything will almost always become clear. It's the perfect mental exercise for me. Yoga comes a very close second. Luckily I live in a relatively warm climate!
How many books have you written?
I've written 1 nonfiction, 1 full length poetry book, 2 novels, and 5 chapbooks (4 of which were collaborations - so I half wrote them). I've also participated in a number of book length anthologies - poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. So we could probably say 8.
I read an awful lot (I'm the Compulsive Reader!) and always have a couple of books on the go, and a large proportion of the books I read are wonderful and influencial in one way or another. So it's hard to limit myself on this, because the influences are broad and sometimes subtle and hard to isolate. Sometimes I'm influenced in ways that aren't obvious to myself -- I might, for example, read something that triggers a response or a change in the way I perceive language and what it can do and I won't be completely aware of that trigger. It will just show up in my work or in my perceptions. A few biggies who have been overt and enormous in their influences include James Joyce (Dubliners and Ulysses primarily - I dip into the latter frequently), Virginia Woolf (The Waves and Mrs Dalloway have been enormous influences), Umberto Eco (Name of the Rose and Foucault's Pendulum primarily, though I enjoy everything he writes), Dorothy Porter, Peter Carey, Margaret Atwood, Emily Ballou, Tim Winton, Neil Gaiman, Salman Rushdie, Julian Barnes, and China Mieville are a few names that come immediately to mind. I'm sure there are more - many more. And more waiting for me in the future that I've yet to discover.
Tell us about your latest release, Black Cow.
Black Cow, which will be released later this year by Bewrite Books, is the story of a family struggling with “affluenza”, a condition that is outwardly manifest in a variety of crises before they leave the rat race to become self-sufficient in a small village outside Hobart, Tasmania. Black Cow explores serious and topical issues, such as the modern dilemma of ever increasing workloads and the impact of stress on families, and overconsumption on the environment, but it also touches on the psychological development, as the family has to dig deep into both the earth and their selves in order to find out what is ailing them. Author Lisa Heidke calls the “writing excellent, professional and polished…capturing that claustrophobic feeling of being trapped and not knowing where to turn. This is a gripping yarn that will appeal to a wide group of readers.” The book will be available, as all BeWrite (http://www.bewrite.net/) titles are, in paperback and all ebook formats (which can be read on any device) from major and minor online bookstores.
Prior to that, my last book was the poetry book Repulsion Thrust. Repulsion Thrust tackles big subjects not often the fodder of poetry: quantum physics, astronomy, time travel, ecological destruction, and technological singularity, all viewed through the lens of the human condition. A tough, take-no-prisoners collection that is not for the faint hearted. Of the book, Bob Williams said "In poetry the thin line that divides the hermetic from the obvious is dangerous ground and not all poets can tread there without destruction. Magdalena is comfortable here and not only treads but dances."
Were any of your books more challenging to write than the others?
I always like to work at the edge of my capability, so the current book is always the most challenging. I like to keep pushing that bar up a little bit each time. Right now I'm working on a book that involves time travel between modern day and 1941-46, through a DNA wormhole between two key characters. Solving a key problem - the mystery that is unravelling the modern protagonist's life-- is subject to her being able to get some crucial piece of information from a past that is and isn't hers. It's a big stretch for me as I've never done a book like this before. If it wasn't the biggest challenge for me ever, I probably wouldn't be keen to work on it.
I've always been a serendipitous promoter - I spend a reasonably large amount of time online and have let my interests lead me into promotional opportunities that I cam across, but with my current book, I've actually written a full scale marketing plan and am planning to take quite a proactive approach to promotion, tackling 2-3 tasks on my list everyday. I did a marketing degree last year so feel obligated to do this properly! The marketing plan includes the full suite of things like setting up a press kit, online and in-person touring, video creation, audio, article marketing, award entries, and so on.
My pleasure, Magdalena.