All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Q&A With….. Kirsten Krauth

on November 26, 2013

Kirsten Colour 01 smallAustralian author Kirsten Krauth has recently published just_a_girl with UWA press, the story of a 14yo girl and her interactions online. I’ll be sharing my thoughts on just_girl_ later today but firstly, Kirsten was kind enough to give her time and answer some questions that I had

Q1. Hi Kirsten and welcome to my blog. Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for me. To get us started, let’s talk writing: what was the road to publication like for you?

Lovely to be here. The road was long, dusty and roundabout. Although I am a fast writer (in terms of speed putting words on a page), I got the idea for my novel just_a_girl when travelling on the train (listening to teenage girls speak) and then played around with an internet-based fiction for a while. I decided to do a masters in creative writing (research based) to give myself deadlines and help me get the first draft done. Having a supervisor like Sue Woolfe was enormously helpful in moving the project along. From that came a novella, that I shaped into a novel. I sent the manuscript out to one publisher at a time so it was a slow process. But UWA Publishing were always involved and keen, and I was happy with a smaller publisher who would spend time editing the book with me.

Q2. Share a little about your writing routine. Do you write full time? Are you an extensive plotter or do you just like to ‘wing it’? Do you have a favourite place to write (ie personal study or café) and is there anything you consider essential for the creative process (ie coffee, music)?

Full time. I wish! When I have time, I like to write furiously in the morning, and then do research in the afternoon. I find letting this research fly around in my head overnight leads to interesting things the next morning. I like to wing it. In the early stages, I just write odd paragraphs, trying to find a character voice that sticks. After doing many paragraphs, the characters start to reveal themselves to me. It’s only quite late in the process that I start to structure and plot things out a bit, making connections between the material. At the moment I have two small children, so I don’t get much writing done. I like a clear table and mulling things over while I look out the window. It’s nice to see a bit of green, and the odd bunny and kangaroo, in Castlemaine I like to have a cup of tea before I begin. Sometimes I put music on, to get me started. Layla’s character was informed by Gwen Stefani, and Pink, and the title of the book comes from a No Doubt song so I’d often have them playing on Spotify as I worked.

Q3. When reading just_a_girl I had to admit it made me examine my own previous internet interactions and conversations, especially when I was a teenager. Was it intentional, to encourage the reader to do this? Or was that just me (eek).

As a writer you’re always hoping that your characters’ actions will make the reader reflect on their own, and they can relate in some way, even if what the character is doing is disturbing or confronting. I actually didn’t have the internet when I was a teenager (showing my age there!) so I had to use my imagination in many cases (although most of the scenarios in the book I had heard about in some shape or form via the media or friends).

Q4. In order to write the novel, what sort of online research did you undertake? 

I spent a lot of time stalking girls on Facebook and MySpace. This sounds verycreepy and in a sense it was, because I wanted to see what Mr C or the Newcastle man Layla encounters in a hotel could find out about a 14 year old girl, without her knowing, if he really wanted to. It made me realise how much personal information girls reveal, and how vulnerable they can be (without parental supervision). I also did a lot of research for Tadashi, talking to men in the LoveDoll community, and trying to get a sense of why they needed to connect with a doll (rather than a human being) – and it nearly always was about a search for love and friendship (rather than sex).

Q5. The internet has provided an anonymous way for people to explore their sexuality in the way that Layla does, in a way that has not been available in the past when interactions would have had to have been face-to-face. Do you think there are positives to find in this?

When I was 19 or 20, and I was just discovering the internet, I saw it as a great playground, where you could have a lot of fun using avatars, and creating fictional versions of yourself. I used to spend a lot of time in chatrooms trying to talk, but where I was continually chatted up for online sex. I had great fun experimenting here, talking back to these men (or boys), and then pretending at the end that I was also a boy, or an older woman, just to see the kind of reaction I got. I was interested in how expectations and identity are set up through a screen. There is a certain kind of safety and freedom in that. Layla also has fun experimenting with the different versions of herself online, and to a certain degree she enjoys it because she is in control. But I think when she moves things into the physical world, she starts encountering problems. She also loses control when she uploads the link. It’s the distribution of material that’s the worry.

Q6. Share five of your favourite reads and/or authors

Barbara Kingsolver – Poisonwood Bible

Christos Tsiolkas – The Slap

Lorrie Moore – all short stories

Haruki Murakami – The Wind Up Bird Chronicle

Brenda Walker – Reading By Moonlight

Q7. What do you like to do away from the keyboard?

I like to curl up on the couch for days on end with a book. I like seeing my kids grow up, gain independence. I like strong US TV like The Wire and Six Feet Under. I’m always happy in the dark in a cinema. I like living in a small country town where people are passionate about life, food and the arts.

Q8. And lastly…what’s next for you and where do you see yourself five years from now?

In the new year I’ll be starting research on my next book. I have the key concept but it’s just a matter of starting. I have set aside a day a week to work furiously! I’m also hoping this year to have a writer’s residency somewhere, where I can focus for a little bit on the process. I’ve also just started writing for ABC Arts Online, covering arts in my region, so that’s exciting. In five years, my kids will be at school, so hopefully there will be more time to write fiction. I’d like to have one or more novels under my belt, and perhaps a PhD too. I wouldn’t mind trying a new genre like creative nonfiction or memoir. I’d still like to be blogging at Wild Colonial Girl, as I really enjoy it. I also have a dream of organizing a local writers’ festival in the Castlemaine area, as we have a lot of writing talent here!


Thanks for stopping by Kirsten. Best of luck with your future novels and the PhD someday. As the mother of two small children myself, I know what it can be like trying to find the time to get things done!



3 responses to “Q&A With….. Kirsten Krauth

  1. writenote1 says:

    Interesting interview!

  2. sandradan1 says:

    Nice interview, makes me want to read her books. SD

  3. annabelsmith says:

    Great interview. I found just_a_girl pretty disturbing and really thought provoking – it made me kind of relieved not to have a daughter because I think the internet makes our kids so much more vulnerable.

    I’m amazed that Kirsten can write with music on – I need silence, or close to it.

    I really need to read Poisonwood Bible. I’ve had it recommended to me by so many people, and I just read and loved Flight Behaviour – so the time is nigh!

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