Kirsten Krauth is an author based in Castlemaine, Victoria who is participating in the Colour Box Studio Pop Up Book Shop with her debut novel just_a_girl and she’ll also be facilitating a book reading on 3 July at 6PM (free event). We had a chat with her recently to find out more about her book and her writing practice.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do?
I’m Kirsten Krauth and I’m a bookaholic. I love writing in all its forms. I have just written my first novel, just_a_girl. I write book reviews, film reviews, and edit the NSW Writers’ Centre magazine, Newswrite. I also blog on writing and many other things at Wild Colonial Girl: www.wildcolonialgirl.com.
Describe your book.
just_a_girl is about a young girl, Layla, who is trouble with a capital T, her mother Margot, who’s moved from ecstasy rave parties to evangelical churches (without really noticing any difference), and a Japanese-Australian man, Tadashi, who falls tenderly for his love doll.
just_a_girl tears into the fabric of contemporary culture. A Puberty Blues for the digital age, a Lolita with a webcam, it’s what happens when young girls are forced to grow up too fast. Or never get the chance to grow up at all.
Layla is only 14. She cruises online. She catches trains to meet strangers. Her mother, Margot, never suspects. Even when Layla brings a man into their home. Margot’s caught in her own web: an evangelical church and a charismatic pastor. Meanwhile, downtown, a man opens a suitcase and tenderly places his young lover inside.
just_a_girl is a novel about being isolated and searching for a sense of connection, faith, friendship and healing, and explores what it’s like to grow up negotiating the digital world of facebook, webcams, internet porn, mobile phones and cyberbullying – a world where the line between public and private is increasingly being eroded.
How did you come to it?
I’ve always loved writing stories since I was a child, and my first tale was about a wonder horse called Snowball. I’ve been a freelance writer for 15 years, but mainly critical writing about the arts and film reviews. I decided I wanted to write a novel and enrolled in a research masters in creative writing to give me the push I needed. It’s taken many years to finish and has been a labour of love, but I’m thrilled the book has been published by UWA Publishing.
Tell us a about your past projects and what has been your most treasured creation?
I’ve written many film reviews, and cinema is a great passion of mine. I’ve also edited a number of books including a collection of writings about writing for the NSW Writers’ Centre – called Talking Writing – which features writers like John Safran, Nikki Gemmell and Benjamin Law. I love helping other writers realise their dreams…
Where did you grow up and has it influenced what you create?
I grew up in many, many places. After being born and spending first years of my life in Papua New Guinea, I moved to Bathurst, Sydney, rural Victoria, Melbourne, Geelong boarding school, Melbourne, Mt Tamborine in Queensland, Sydney, Castlemaine. I think being nomadic and always the new kid at school has definitely influenced the way I write. Many of my characters are outsiders looking in, and I have often felt that, as I tried quickly to learn people’s names, and fit in… I am used to observing people carefully, and this is always useful for a writer.
What is your current project?
My debut novel just_a_girl was released in June. Some say that publishing your first novel is like letting your baby crawl across an eight-lane freeway. I’m waiting to see if this is true.
Who or what was your inspiration?
So many people over the years. My dad is a novelist and I saw how hard he worked and the focus required. If anything, you’d think this would put me off. But the lure was always there. Sue Woolfe, the wonderful writer and my supervisor at uni, was a great help in getting me started. I read voraciously and am always inspired by whatever I am reading at the time! My current favourite writers include Lorrie Moore and Haruki Murakami.
Where do you feel most creative?
I like peace, a nice window to gaze out of, and trees and sky. I recently moved to Castlemaine from Sydney, so I’m lucky to have all of these.
What will you be working on next?
I love novels with interconnecting short stories. I’m just starting research on a second novel, that hopes to bring together some of the terrific stories I’ve encountered in Castlemaine, both historic and contemporary.
What can visitors to expect to see from you when they visit Colour Box Studio?
On 3 July at 6:00pm I’ll be talking to the wonderful Angela Savage about how I came to write the book, and doing some readings from just_a_girl. There’ll also be copies of my book for sale. More information about this event: here.
Where can we see more of your work?
More information about just_a_girl including book notes and sample chapters is available here: http://uwap.uwa.edu.au/books-and-authors/book/just_a_girl/
We hope to see you on 3 July at Colour Box Studio – 236 Nicholson St, Footscray for an ‘in conversation’ session with Kirsten Krauth from 6pm. Please RSVP before 2 July to firstname.lastname@example.org.