Prepare yourself for one of the most confronting novels of 2008. Still Waters is a provocative, unconventional debut that explores one of society's last great taboos - the idea that there are women who simply do not love their children.
"I worried that even if I decided to have kids, my ambivalence [about having children] wouldn't go away. We're told that the biological clock is ticking and suddenly you're supposed to experience this mindless desire for a baby. And it doesn't happen to some people. I believe that my decision not to have kids is entirely selfish. It's out of protection of the kind of life that I now lead that I don't want to give up."-Lionel Shriver, author of We Need to Talk about Kevin, on salon.com
Still Waters is a chilling novel about what happens when a woman who should never have had children, does. In it, debut novelist Camilla Noli - herself the mother of two children - explores the idea that not all women are naturally maternal or nurturing. Still Waters also examines the possibility that society sees mothers as second-class citizens, somehow diminished in status, whilst presenting a chilling 'what if' scenario: what if you wish you hadn't borne your children? What lengths would you go to in order to reclaim your identity? How evil can a mother be?
The main character and narrator, a woman in her early 30s living in the suburbs of an unspecified city with her husband and children, remains unnamed throughout the novel. Before marriage and babies beckoned, she was a glamorous over-achiever - a formidable woman with a stellar career, a powerful intellect and a potent sexual confidence which men found impossible to resist. Two principles - power and control - sat at the core of her identity and, upon becoming a mother, she feels that both were snatched away.
Still Waters traces her struggle to accept her new, diminished identity as merely a mother and her frustration at the lack of power the role confers. Whilst her children flourish, she rages inwardly at the slow, almost imperceptible disintegration of her marriage, the constant sacrificing of self for others, the blunt-about-the-edges existence she now leads. At the novel's climax, she reaches a chilling decision...
Camilla Noli lives on the Central Coast of NSW with her husband and children. She is a graduate of the Varuna Writing Program in Sydney's Blue Mountains and this is her first novel. For more details see: www.camillanoli.com
Hachette Livre Australia
Author: Camilla Noli
RRP: $22.99 original paperback
Thanks to Hachette Livre here is your chance to win a copy of 'Still Waters'. Enter the comp now: www.femail.com.au/comps.htm
Camilla Noli Interview on Still Waters
1. What was your inspiration behind this book?
The inspiration for Still Waters came initially from the deeply flawed character of the female narrator, which presented herself to me one night - virtually fully formed - and almost demanded that I write a novel for her. At the time I was the mother of two very young children and had a deep sense of their vulnerability and my responsibility for them. When I tried to imagine how a person such as the woman at the centre of Still Waters would behave if placed in a position of responsibility for young children - with her sense of identity and self being challenged - I knew that I had a novel.
2. Have you always wanted to be a writer? What was the turning point that cemented your decision?
Writing in many forms has always been a part of my life. For many years I wrote poetry and short stories and since I was a child writing things down has been my method for making sense of the world. When I was home with my two young children, I was often physically exhausted, but mentally relatively unchallenged and I found my imagination and desire to write a longer work begin to assert itself. When the female narrator of Still Waters presented herself to me one night, I knew that the time had come to write that novel I always thought I would write.
3. What type or books (or authors) do you like to read when you are not writing yourself?
I read widely and voraciously! Novels with flawed or interesting main characters are a particular favourite and this sees me reading books as diverse as Stephen King novels to the works of Haruki Murakami (a Japanese writer who often writes about the depressed and the dispossessed) and everything in between.
I also love the magical realist writers such as Gabriel Garcia Márquez and Isabel Allende, as well as books by Umberto Eco.
Some particularly favourite books are: The Time Traveler's Wife (Audrey Niffenegger), The Life of Pi (Yann Martel), The Great Fire (Shirley Hazzard), Middlesex (Jeffrey Eugenides), Cloud Atlas (David Mitchell) - to name but a few!
4. How lengthy is the process behind writing a novel?
In my experience it takes between one and two years. I find that the guts of a novel can often be written very quickly. However, my novels have always benefited from me taking time to reflect on the themes which have emerged during the initial writing process and then re-incorporating them (sometimes more subtly) in later drafts. For me, this results in a superior, more powerful work.
5. What is your favourite part of being a writer?
The opportunity to explore ideas and themes that I wouldn't have the freedom to think deeply about in any other way. The fact that these themes will then be explored and discussed in detail by the readers of my books and the very practical fact that I can write during school hours and still be a very hands-on Mum!Quick Questions:
: Camilla Noli.Nickname(s
): Cammy, Milla, Muuuuuuum!Star Sign
: Sagittarius.Book Category
: Psychological Thriller.Favourite Food
: Currently spaghetti as that's what my daughter would have every night if I let her.Favourite Film
: Oh Brother Where Art Thou.Favourite Actor
: A tie between Brad Pitt and Johnny Deep.Pet
: Caesar - my miniature Fox Terrier who is NOT good at sitting at my feet while I write. Oh and some Sea Monkeys which let me tell you do NOT build castles and complicated societies and look nothing at all like monkeys.Describe yourself in 3 words
: Not good at maths (oops that's four).Person You Would Most Like to Meet
: My great, great grandmother Dora who was found orphaned after an avalanche in the Italian Alps and went on to have a very troubled, yet interesting, life (which is why one of my books is going to be about her).Hobbies/Interests
: Reading, walking, photography.First Job
: Serving food in the refectory of my University.What Can You Never Leave Home Without
: My lipstick.What is the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning
: My morning walk on the beach.Buy it now at