Adriane’s top tip for aspiring authors: Consider whom you allow to read your work-in-progress; not all opinions are created equal.
Adriane Howell is a Melbourne-based arts worker and writer who has lived in Paris and Johannesburg. In 2013 she graduated from the University of Melbourne with a Master of Creative Writing, Publishing and Editing. She is co-founder of the literary journal Gargouille. Hydra is her debut novel.
AUTHOR WEBSITE: https://www.adrianehowell.com
AUTHOR INSTAGRAM: @felinefelttip
Why do you write? It’s a compulsion.
What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? Another form of storytelling, film perhaps.
What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? Battles with the Self.
How involved have you been in the development of your book? Did you have input into the cover? All stages of the process were transparent and collaborative. When working on the cover, Barry and I went back and forth dissecting images and moods. Some mock-ups were too masculine, others too sexual. There was also the matter of acquiring rights. I’m delighted with the final product.
What’s the best aspect of your writing life? When I’m lost in the words and, failing that, when I close my notebook for the evening.
—the worst? The sense of having exposed myself.
What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? I would have found my therapist earlier.
What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? I need to experience things for myself, make my own mistakes, so it’s unlikely I would have heeded any form of warning.
What’s the best advice you were ever given? D.B.C. Pierre writes of the novel’s structure as an exercise in breathing: dialogue and conflict are short sharp inhalations, dream sequences and philosophising are more meditative breaths. It’s about finding a balance between the two. You don’t want your reader hyperventilating nor falling asleep.
How important is social media to you as an author? It’s a distraction, sometimes much needed but mostly not.
Do you experience ‘writer’s block’ and if so, how do you overcome it? It’s rare that I give into ‘writer’s block’. I’ve found some of my best writing has occurred hours into writing mindless, nonsensical bullshit. Writing is rarely visited by the muse, it’s mostly about the hours invested. There are, however, tricks to make my writing flow: walks, coffee, not over eating, keeping warm (I’m like a cat gravitating towards any slither of sun), reading and art exhibitions.
How do you deal with rejection? Get back to work. There’s a reason for rejection but you’ll go mad trying to find it.
If you had the chance to spend an hour with any writer of your choice, living or dead, who would it be and what would you most like them to tell you about living a writing life? Vladimir Nabokov and my question would remain between us.
Anja is a young, ambitious antiquarian, passionate for the clean and balanced lines of mid-century furniture. She is intent on classifying objects based on emotional response and when her career goes awry, Anja finds herself adrift. Like a close friend, she confesses her intimacies and rage to us with candour, tenderness, and humour.
Cast out from the world of antiques, she stumbles upon a beachside cottage that the neighbouring naval base is offering for a 100-year lease. The property is derelict, isolated, and surrounded by scrub. Despite of, or because of, its wildness and solitude, Anja uses the last of the inheritance from her mother to lease the property. Yet a presence – human, ghost, other – seemingly inhabits the grounds.
Hydra is a novel of dark suspense and mental disquiet, struck through with black humour. Adriane Howell beguilingly explores notions of moral culpability, revenge, memory, and narrative – all through the female lens of freedom and constraint. She holds us captive to the last page.