Melina Marchetta is a famous author in Australia, but also in the rest of the world. Her first novel, ”Looking For Alibrandi”, was published 1992 and now, her novels has been published in more than 17 languages. This year her novel ”On the Jellicoe Road” were translated into swedish and a lot of people loves it. I got the amazing opportunity to ask Melina a few questions!
You’ve written several books but ”On the Jellicoe Road” (sv. Jellicoe Road) is one of the most popular. In Sweden everyone talks about it and loves it, including me. How did you get the idea for the book?
– I knew I wanted to write a mystery and I’ve always loved boarding school stories. Isolated boarding schools make such a great setting. When I first started writing Jellicoe almost twenty years ago, it was about a kind of war between the six houses of Taylor’s school. But that didn’t work and I put the manuscript away. When I started on it again almost ten years later, I knew the mystery had to be about Taylor’s past, rather than some external factor. And that’s how it began.
What about the characters? Did you made them up or what’s the story behind them?
– I always had Taylor Markham in my head. She was there from the very beginning, although most of the other characters weren’t. Except for Webb. Originally, he was her best friend and belonged to the present day story, but once I worked out that there were a group of kids from twenty years ago, I knew he was one of them. Also, Taylor’s love interest was not always going to be a Jonah Griggs type, but somehow this very damaged young man started hanging around in my head. Usually what happens with me is that one character comes first, and that character begins to collect people. They don’t all come at once.
How would you describe your writing style or technique? What separates you from the crowd?
– I actually don’t think of anyone else while I’m writing. I tend not to think of audience and I let myself go with first draft and don’t set up boundaries, which usually means it’s a mess, but at least I’ve got a place to start with second draft. In first draft all I’m interested in doing is setting up characters, relationships and getting the story from a beginning to end. It’s usually dialogue heavy. The key to writing a novel like Jellicoe, which was sort of like a jigsaw puzzle and had a few plot strands, was to take my time and keep on re-writing.
Finally, do you have any advice for people who want to become writers?
– It’s very simplistic advice, but write every day. Even if you think that 90% of what you’ve written is rubbish, keep on writing every day because the 10% that’s good, could be the beginning, middle, or end of your novel.