Subscribe to Granta today

Interview: Evie Wyld

|

Every two weeks we will be showcasing original fiction from an emerging writer, as part of our New Voices feature. The second in our series is ‘Something Close to Heaven’. Its author, Evie Wyld, speaks to Roy Robins.

RR: Where are you from?

EW: I grew up in Peckham Rye, South London, with frequent visits to Australia where my Mum’s family live. When I was a kid I used to tell people I was from Australia, to try and sound more interesting – but really that’s a lie. I have dual nationality but, however I try to spin it, I’m really from south-east London.

When did you start writing fiction? And why?

I always wanted to be a painter, but I wasn’t very good at painting. When I was at school I found I received the same satisfaction from writing a short story that I did doing awful self-portraits – only the results were much better. When I was a teenager I wrote terrible magical realist stuff about attractive young girls having love affairs with old men with twisted spines.

You did an MA in Creative Writing at Goldsmiths, University of London. How did this help you as a writer, or inform the way in which you write? Do you think creative writing degrees are a good idea?

A lot of people have funny ideas about writers, like they’re born with novels fully formed inside them or something. Just like everything else, writing takes practice, and I believe that the right creative writing degree can be hugely helpful. Some people seem to think that a writer goes and works out the formula to a great novel in a room somewhere and then regurgitates it in a soulless, dead way. If you are a good writer and you do a creative writing degree, you are given the time to write and you are able to talk to other writers. You read widely, and through your classmates’ mistakes you pick up your own more efficiently. But it’s only helpful if you go in with a certain amount of openness. There’ll always be students who consider their work perfect as it comes out – and perhaps there are a lucky few for whom that is true – but most of us need time and advice and criticism, and that is what the course at Goldsmiths is about.

‘Something Close to Heaven’ is set in Australia, although it isn't specific to Australia. The story speaks of a broader sense of strangeness, lostness and alienation.

I read a lot of Australian writers, and I think often there is a sense of strangeness or lostness about Australia as a landscape. I suppose the landscape fits with the characters I like to write about, characters who can’t articulate some sort of great guilt or feeling of tragedy they might have.
I tend to write about where I am not, so whenever I’ve lived in Australia, I’ve written about England and when I’m in England, I write about Australia. I think the feeling of homesickness is what drives a lot of my writing, and so far I haven’t quite worked out which country is home.

This story is part of your novel-in-progress, After a Fire a Still Small Voice. And yet ‘Something Close to Heaven’ seems to me to be perfectly self-contained. How did you come to write this story?

The story is based on something that happened when my Australian mother brought my English father to New South Wales to meet her parents. The two of them went on a trip up to Lake Nash in the Northern Territories, which was a pretty desolate bit of Australia then. They arrived at a barbecue where my dad was taken off to ‘get the meat’. My dad wanted to stay with the women, but was told he couldn’t, he had to go with the men, and then they shot this poor cow with her calf looking on. They took a steak each and off they went. My poor dad who was (and still is) a man of gentle tastes, had to act as though this was all perfectly reasonable. I suppose it made me think about the kind of person you’d have to be to think that that sort of thing is all right.

You write extraordinarily vividly about desolation and desperation, about hunger for all kinds of things. One of the things that impressed me about this story is its empathy. The men with whom Leon, your protagonist, finds himself have rejected wider society and have attempted to create a society of their own – one devoid of women and children. They see their ‘town’ as being idyllic, but of course this unnatural environment has perverted the way they think and feel. Your story never caricatures these men or judges them.

In After a Fire a Still Small Voice, Leon has returned from Vietnam and is trying to cope with the after-effects. When I was researching the novel, I talked to my Australian uncle who was conscripted and fought in Vietnam. He was nineteen and he had to kill people. When he returned he found that nobody wanted to hear about it. My grandparents picked him up from the airport, thrilled he was alive, and they all went to the nearest pub to celebrate and because he was in uniform, they were chucked out. I tried to think about the strange silence you might feel having fought in a war and then being expected to get on with things with no help, and no talking about it, thank you very much. My grandmother’s sister married a man who fought in the Second World War and was a big hero in public, but in secret he used to beat his wife. Everyone knew but no one would talk about it. You couldn’t talk about the bad things that had happened, only the heroic things. I’m interested in the idea that it’s not the person who is the brute but that the things that happen are brutish.

Is the community of men in ‘Something Close to Heaven’ in any way a comment on a certain kind of masculinity, one prone to aggression, violence and fear or mistrust of those different from themselves?

After a Fire a Still Small Voice is about men and the things they can’t talk about. I can see why someone would want to live out on a farm with no one they find threatening – in this case no women or children, nothing to lose face over. It’s like the impulse to stay in bed and live in your imagination for the rest of your life.

Comments (45)

You need to create an account or log in to comment.

  1. adesastrawan

    Wed Jul 10 04:56:40 BST 2013

    I found your website perfect for my needs. It contains wonderful and helpful posts. http://www.mode88.com/celana-chino/

    #
  2. alikhan_095

    Fri Oct 10 09:59:50 BST 2014

    I'm impressed, I must say. Very rarely do I come across a blog that's both informative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you've hit the nail on the head. Your blog is important; the issue is something that not enough people are talking intelligently about.

    http://www.germes-trans.com/en

    #
  3. Marta

    Fri Dec 27 12:32:56 GMT 2013

    Hello There. I found your blog using msn. This is an extremely well written article. I will make sure to bookmark it and come back to read more of your useful info. Thanks for the post. I’ll certainly comeback. Feel free to yourself
    Wynajem busów gorzów
    http://www.anettbus.pl

    #
  4. Marta

    Fri Dec 27 12:35:08 GMT 2013

    I loved as much as you'll receive carried out right here. The sketch is tasteful, your authored subject matter stylish. nonetheless, you command get bought an nervousness over that you wish be delivering the following. unwell unquestionably come further formerly again since exactly the same nearly a lot often inside case you shield this increase
    Mieszkania łagów
    http://www.asbud-lagow.pl

    #
  5. Marta

    Fri Dec 27 12:41:17 GMT 2013

    Hello There. I found your blog using msn. This is a very well written article. I’ll make sure to bookmark it and come back to read more of your useful info. Thanks for the post. I will certainly return. Feel free to yourself
    Wypoczynek łagów
    http://www.pensjonatsage.pl

    #
  6. Marta

    Fri Dec 27 12:45:20 GMT 2013

    Hello, i think that i saw you visited my blog thus i came to “return the favor”.I'm trying to find things to enhance my web site!I suppose its ok to use some of your ideas!!
    Tanie domki holenderskie
    http://www.stacjonarnedomkiholenderskie.pl

    #
  7. Marta

    Fri Dec 27 12:54:47 GMT 2013

    Definitely believe that which you said. Your favorite justification seemed to be on the net the easiest thing to be aware of. I say to you, I certainly get irked while people consider worries that they just do not know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top and also defined out the whole thing without having side-effects , people could take a signal. Will probably be back to get more. Thanks
    Filmy online
    http://www.kino.pecetowiec.pl

    #
  8. Marta

    Fri Dec 27 12:56:50 GMT 2013

    Hello, i think that i saw you visited my website so i came to “return the favor”.I'm trying to find things to improve my web site!I suppose its ok to use some of your ideas!!
    Rosyjski gorzów
    http://www.project.gorzow.pl

    #
  9. Marta

    Fri Dec 27 17:27:48 GMT 2013

    Hello, i think that i saw you visited my website so i came to “return the favor”.I'm trying to find things to improve my web site!I suppose its ok to use some of your ideas!!
    Darmowe gry java
    http://javacenter.pl

    #
  10. Marta

    Fri Dec 27 17:32:04 GMT 2013

    Hey There. I found your blog using msn. This is a really well written article. I’ll make sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post. I’ll definitely return. Feel free to yourself
    Najlepsza muzyka
    http://muzikum.pl

    #
  11. Marta

    Fri Dec 27 17:33:50 GMT 2013

    Hi, i think that i saw you visited my site so i came to “return the favor”.I'm trying to find things to enhance my website!I suppose its ok to use a few of your ideas!!
    Śmieszne zdjęcia
    http://www.foto-wpadka.pl

    #
  12. Marta

    Fri Dec 27 17:36:58 GMT 2013

    I loved as much as you'll receive carried out right here. The sketch is tasteful, your authored subject matter stylish. nonetheless, you command get bought an edginess over that you wish be delivering the following. unwell unquestionably come further formerly again since exactly the same nearly a lot often inside case you shield this hike
    Sklep wędkarski Szczecin
    http://www.tamaj.pl

    #
  13. Marta

    Fri Dec 27 17:38:44 GMT 2013

    Hello There. I found your blog using msn. This is an extremely well written article. I will be sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful info. Thanks for the post. I’ll definitely return. Feel free to yourself
    Skup aut warszawa
    http://autoskup.warszawa.pl

    #
  14. Marta

    Fri Dec 27 17:40:28 GMT 2013

    Hello, i think that i saw you visited my web site so i came to “return the favor”.I'm attempting to find things to improve my website!I suppose its ok to use some of your ideas!!
    Akordy na gitare
    http://gitarius.pl

    #
  15. subbiaya@outlook.com

    Sun Oct 12 13:11:02 BST 2014

    I definitely enjoying every little bit of it. It is a great website and nice share. I want to thank you. Good job! You guys do a great blog, and have some great contents. http://alphafuelxtfacts.com

    #
  16. jams123

    Thu Mar 13 08:20:20 GMT 2014

    I want you to thank for your time of this wonderful read!!! I definately enjoy every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff of your blog a must read blog!http://www.dailymotion.com/bubblegumcasting

    #
  17. studiopelangi

    Thu May 08 15:42:16 BST 2014

    Sewa led screen,
    Sewa led,
    Sewa led display,
    Sewa led wall,
    Sewa led screen bandung,
    Sewa led tc,
    Sewa led bali,
    Sewa led light,
    Sewa led panel,
    Sewa led big screen,
    Sewa led tv Jakarta,
    Rental led,
    Rental led screen Jakarta,
    Rental led screen,
    Rental led display Jakarta,
    Rental led display,
    Rental led display Indonesia,
    Rental led screen Surabaya,
    Rental led video wall,
    Rental led tv Jakarta,
    Rental led tv,
    Rental led di Jakarta

    <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-HWvXUpgSY">Sewa led screen</a>
    <a href="http://studiopelangi.com/article/141303/sewa-led-screen-semarang--dalam-acara-pengisian-awal-waduk-jatibarang.html">Sewa led</a>
    <a href="http://studiopelangi.com/article/141303/sewa-led-screen-semarang--dalam-acara-pengisian-awal-waduk-jatibarang.html">Sewa led display</a>

    <a href="http://studiopelangi.com/article/141303/sewa-led-screen-semarang--dalam-acara-pengisian-awal-waduk-jatibarang.html">Sewa led wall</a>

    <a href="http://studiopelangi.com/article/141303/sewa-led-screen-semarang--dalam-acara-pengisian-awal-waduk-jatibarang.html">Rental led screen</a>

    <a href="http://studiopelangi.com/article/141303/sewa-led-screen-semarang--dalam-acara-pengisian-awal-waduk-jatibarang.html">Sewa led panel</a>

    <a href="http://studiopelangi.com/article/141303/sewa-led-screen-semarang--dalam-acara-pengisian-awal-waduk-jatibarang.html">Rental led video wall</a>

    -------------------

    Thats interesting fact, than #

  18. awengcelweng

    Thu Oct 02 20:59:50 BST 2014

    The Girlfriend Activation System: Christian H. Reveals His Little-Known Step-By-Step System Even Dorky, Awkward, And Ugly Guys Whose Claim To Fame Is Being "Horrible With Women" Are Using To Meet, Attract, And Ultimately Date Beautiful, Loyal, And Committed Girlfriends. Click here to visit Christian's official Girlfriend Activation System website

    http://obatfrigid.blogspot.com/2012/10/Obat-Perangsang-Wanita-Cepat-Alami.html
    http://bit.ly/merangsangwanita
    http://bit.ly/perangsangalami
    http://bit.ly/1ByXDEj
    http://bit.ly/1wVbJPw
    http://bit.ly/fbperangsang
    http://bit.ly/1rxuCWU
    http://bit.ly/1xv9m9d
    http://bit.ly/1vqUV3L
    http://bit.ly/1vqtrt2
    http://bit.ly/obatperangsang
    http://bit.ly/alatpembesar
    http://obatperangsangalami.webs.com/

    #
  19. galon

    Tue Jul 29 21:24:13 BST 2014

  20. bondan

    Fri Oct 17 15:28:52 BST 2014

    I can see why someone would want to live out on a farm with no one they find threatening – in this case no women or children, nothing to lose face over. It’s like the impulse to stay in bed and live in your imagination for the rest of your life.
    http://bit.ly/biodata-bastian-steel

    semoga bermanfaat.
    http://bit.ly/foto-cita-citata
    http://bit.ly/spesifikasihp

    #
  21. Anand Soni

    Thu Oct 16 15:51:20 BST 2014

  22. mattius444

    Sun Jul 06 13:29:12 BST 2014

    These are only the warning signal, and less painful than the real gout. If you have recurrent attack of gout in the ankle or another joint, you should be able to recognize the signals http://goutinankle.net/

    #
  23. sant4

    Thu Oct 02 12:23:34 BST 2014

    Pleasant information, important and exceptional pattern, since write about nutrients together with guidelines and methods, a lot of great information and creativity, equally that I need, thanks to present a really helpful tips in this article. http://new-life10.blogspot.com/

    #
  24. 2

    Mon Oct 13 22:34:21 BST 2014

    Pleasant information, important and exceptional pattern, since write about nutrients together with guidelines and methods, a lot of great information and creativity, equally that I need, thanks to present a really helpful tips in this article. http://vasectomycost0.wordpress.com/

    #