Meet Evie, a young woman held captive by a man named Jim in the isolated New Zealand beach town of Maketu. Jim says he's hiding Evie to protect her, that she did something terrible back home in Melbourne.
In a house that creaks against the wind, Evie begins to piece together her fractured memories of the events that led her here.
Jim says he's keeping her safe. Evie's not sure she can trust Jim, but can she trust her own memories?
J.P. Pomare is an award winning writer who has had work published in journals including Meanjin, Kill Your Darlings, Takahe and Mascara Literary Review. He has hosted the On Writing podcast since 2015 featuring bestselling authors from around the globe. He was born in New Zealand and resides in Melbourne with his wife. Call Me Evie is his first novel.
Call Me Evie
Author: J.P. Pomare
Question: What inspired the story of Call Me Evie?
J.P. Pomare: For me setting always comes first. Call Me Evie is set between Melbourne and a rural beach town called Maketu. When I was younger we used to take trips out there and it was so atmospheric and for us teenaged boys it was scary. The landscape is beautiful yet rugged, the locals stare, you see fangs of rock breaking through the water between waves. At first it seemed so inhospitable but I realised when you are a local, when you are on the inside you would feel very protected. After a run in with some of the local kids who threw stones at our car, I remember thinking This would be the perfect place to hide out. So when I had the character of Kate, I sent her to Maketu. When I started writing the story I was confronted by two narrative questions, why did she come here? and who is she with?
Question: What do you enjoy most about writing thrillers?
J.P. Pomare: I enjoy using misdirection and subtlety to set up the twists. As a writer it is my job to find ways to keep the reader from picking up their phone, or checking their emails. In a world where attention equals advertising and consequently money, where the biggest businesses in the world are all vying for your attention, If you have it, if a reader grants you that, you have to reward them. In suspense and psychological thrillers one of the big pay offs for readers are the twists and turns that they don't see coming. As a reader that is what I am after and when I am writing and the plot resolves itself with a big twist, nothing is more satisfying.
Question: How much of your inspiration comes from real life and real people?
J.P. Pomare: I've spoken about Maketu and how much I was inspired by it but the characters and much of the action is also inspired by the real world. In many ways Kate is so much like me that we feel like the same person, she's neurotic, self-conscious, creative, shy, outwardly indifferent, the list goes on but then she surprises me. I think characters often start off as the author or people the author knows but then as you write and get to know the character more you realise they're really different. So lots of the characters started off like people I know so in that way they were inspired by them but by the time the book was published everyone is unrecognisable. I was also inspired by things in the news and a few things that happened at high school when I was a bit younger. I can't really talk about specifics because it's so easy to wade into spoiler territory but suffice to say some of the sub plots and many of the secondary characters are made up of people I know and things that have happened to them.
Question: Can you tell us about On Writing?
J.P. Pomare: On Writing Podcast is a passion project I started over three years ago. Back then there weren't too many podcasts where authors were talking about themselves, their habits, how they got into writing etc and most of the ones I listened to were produced in the states. I thought why can't I do this. So I just dove in and started emailing publishers and agents. I had no idea what I was doing and things have changed a lot since those first few months but the premise is essentially the same: candid conversations about the writers life. I get to ask my favourite anything I like, which is basically the ultimate creative writing course.
Question: What do you love most about hosting On Writing?
J.P. Pomare: It's been extremely rewarding getting the chance to speak to huge names like Joyce Carol Oates, John Safran, AJ Finn, E Lockhart, Benjamin Law, Trent Dalton... but I think the thing I love most about On Writing is knowing that people listen and take something away from it. Whenever I meet someone, or receive a message on social media or email about how much they enjoyed a particular interview it's such a nice feeling. That's why I started it, I wanted to make something I could listen to, enjoy and most of all learn from. The fact the show does that for other people is really surreal.
Interview by Brooke Hunter
Call Me Evie
Author: J.P. Pomare