Archive for the ‘Walking the Tree’ Category

Walking the Tree

I am now holding Walking the Tree. It’s here, it’s done and it is absolutely gorgeous.

Ican now let on the secret about this book.

I wrote it twice. Once from the point of view of Lillah, the teacher and main character. Once again from the point of view of Morace, the student and other main character. You can read why over at the Angry Robot Blog. Basically, I felt Morace’s voice so strongly I wanted to tell his story as well. I also loved the idea of publishing an adult and children’s version of the same book at the same time.

Writing Walking the Tree from a second point of view helped me write the final draft of the adult version. Interesting to see things from a different perspective. It helped me see logical flaws, character inconsistencies and parts which didn’t fit. It also helped me understand both the characters better and to build Morace’s character into someone you will hopefully care about.

My son has read Morace’s Story. He was nervous at first, because I’ve told him about the sorts of things I write and he was worried it would give him nightmares.  There is some stark imagery and some frightening things, but he says he is nightmare free!

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This weekend, I’m heading up to Brisbane for the Aurealis Awards. Slights is shortlisted for best horror novel.  I’ll be dressing to win, so here’s hoping!

I’ll be appearing at Pulp Fiction Bookshop in Brisbane with Trudi Canavan at 10.30 on the Saturday. Here’s the full schedule of fab authors appearing:

Trudi Canavan and Kaaron Warren at 10.30 – 11.30am

Sean Williams, Scott Westerfeld and Justine Larbalestier at 11.30am – 12.30pm

Karen Miller and Glenda Larke at 12.30 – 1.30pm

Pamela Freeman and Katie Taylor at 2.30 – 3.30pm

To take my mind off the award, I’m sorting papers as I unpack our boxes. I found a folder of early notes for Walking the Tree, when I already had the story in mind but was thinking about the themes, layers and the nitty-gritty.

There is one precious piece of paper where my brilliant mathematician friend, Phil Kilby, figured out the size of my island. In Walking the Tree, schooling consists of the children leaving their home communities at the age of 8 and walking around the tree, stopping in other communities to get to know and understand the people living there.

Given the number of days the children walk and how manyhours a day they could be expected to walk, Phil figured out that my island was approximately 772,882 km squared. Approximately equal to Turkey.

It was important to know how big the island was to give me a sense of space. at first, I thought there would be many hundreds of communities, but as I wrote, a sense of isolation came through, of separation. knowing how big the island was meant i could imagine how far apart the communities were.

Phil is not related to Steve Kilbey, an Australian musical genius. This is the Church’s “Under the Milky Way“, one of those songs guaranteed to stop conversation at parties while everyone sings quietly and reverently.

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When I was eight, already a voracious reader, I borrowed a book from the local library about the California Redwood Tree. Reading it filled me with a visceral sense of BIG. I came back time and time again to read this book because I loved the idea of something so ancient and so huge existing in my own, real world.

The sense of BIG is something difficult to explain. It fills my brain with itself; the sense of something magnified to such a degree that it changes in the way it looks.

“Walking the Tree”, which is now the next novel to be published by Angry Robot, has this idea of BIG at its heart. The idea, story and character came to me fully formed while watching a documentary about ancient artefacts. The Tree, which almost fills a large island and forms the mythology, history and law of the novel, is inspired by my early fascination with the Redwood.

When in San Francisco last week, I discovered that the forest was a mere 45 minute drive away and I knew we all had to go.

Muir Woods is a well-developed venue, with wooden walkways (not made of oldgrowth Redwood, as my husband joked!) to keep you off the path. Walking them reminded me of Ray Bradbury’s “The Sound of Thunder”, and the importance not to change anything.

The trees were breath-taking. So tall you had to tilt your head back as far as it would go. Their trunks are red, soft, straight. Some of them have been burnt, but they grow on regardless. Some have caves inside (as does the Tree in my novel) and we all imagined how it would be to live there.

I have a great sense of fulfillment, having seen these trees I’ve loved since I was eight.

North America 2009 236

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