Field of Poppies

Field of Poppies

Entertaining novel about a tree change that goes wrong.

Keen to escape the pressures of city life, Marsali Swift and her husband William are drawn to Listowel, a glorious historic mansion in the seemingly tranquil small town of Muckleton. There is time to read, garden, decorate, play chess and befriend the locals.

Yet one night Listowel is robbed, and soon after a neighbour is murdered. The violent history of the couple's adopted Goldfields town is revealed and plans for a new goldmine emerge.

Winner of the Patrick White Literary Award, and three times short-listed for the Miles Franklin Award, Carmel Bird is the author of eleven novels and eight collections of short fiction. Carmel grew up in Tasmania, and she has an international reputation as a storyteller, essayist, editor and teacher.

Field of Poppies
Transit Lounge Publishing
Author: Carmel Bird
ISBN: 9781925760392
RRP: $29.99

Interview with Carmel Bird

Question: What inspired the story of Field of Poppies?

Carmel Bird: A friend gave me a pictorial hairclip that featured a painting by Monet. It was a picture of a woman with a parasol. I googled it and as well as finding that image, I found the painting of Monet's 'Field of Poppies in Argenteuil'. I know it sounds facile, but I suddenly knew that here was a deep source of inspiration for a novel. The picture is a key trope in the text.


Question: What was the best part about creating the character of Marsali Swift?

Carmel Bird: I had a lot of pleasure with letting Marsali reveal her relationship with her husband William. He is like a walking Google, and Marsali is patient with him and also amused by him. I also enjoyed going into the history of Marsali's life which is a fairly ordinary life for a woman of her age and background in Australia. In fact she and William are ordinary, affluent babyboomers who are half aware of the way the world is changing - and half unaware. So it was important and pleasurable to create the characters. They are fairly bogged down in the past, in history - and then they begin to see 'history' coming to surface in the village - but they never quite put two and two together to the extent that they would, for instance, decided NOT to take so many international flights.


Question: Are the characters based on anyone you know?

Carmel Bird: I suppose there are many little elements of myself and people I know built into Marsali. William is also a bit of a reflection of many men of his age - they can be a little over-zealous about explaining how the world works - they know a certain amount, but in William's case, he can overdo the information. Mainly, both Marsali and William are good, decent people who don't seem to be taking enough notice of what is happening to the planet. They are living an affluent middle-class life, seemingly unaware that such a life is becoming less and less possible. They try to make sense of things by reading novels. Then they do such an ironic thing as going to live in the Eureka Tower.


Question: How much of your inspiration comes from real life and real people?

Carmel Bird: I take a lot of inspiration from real life - but not in a straight line - I take a little from here and a little from there. I should confess that like Marsali I am a 'tree-changer' myself - I moved from Melbourne to Castlemaine in order to be near my daughter and her young family.


Question: What advice do you have for aspiring writers or artists?

Carmel Bird: Oh dear - I don't really do advice - but I would think: try to be disciplined and focused on the task - treat it as the vocation that it is - if you want to write you will need to read - never give up - don't let adverse criticism get you down (it might even have something useful to tell you. Be brave. Write every day. Write early in the morning. Go for walks. Keep your eyes and ears open.


Interview by Brooke Hunter

Field of Poppies 
Transit Lounge Publishing
Author: Carmel Bird 
ISBN: 9781925760392 
RRP: $29.99 




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