Today I’m featuring Kathryn Lomer on my blog. A big thanks to UQP for setting up the interview, and to Kathryn for answering all my questions.
Title: Talk Under Water
Author: Kathryn Lomer
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Will and Summer meet online and strike up a friendship based on coincidence. Summer lives in Will’s old hometown, Kettering, a small Tasmanian coastal community. Summer isn’t telling the whole truth about herself, but figures it doesn’t matter if they never see each other in person, right?
When Will returns to Kettering, the two finally meet and Summer can no longer hide her secret – she is deaf. Can Summer and Will find a way to be friends in person even though they speak a completely different language?
1. Where did your ideas for Talk Under Water come from?
A lot of images and ideas came together for this book. The image of the shy albatross was in my mind for a long time. Although they travel around the world, shy albatrosses nest only on three islands off Tasmania, my home (island) state of Australia. I’d been interested in deaf sign languages for years – probably since reading Oliver Sachs’s book, Seeing Voices, and studying psycholinguistics. A few years back, my son and I took a course in Auslan (Australian Sign Language) and I guess my imagination took over. What would it be like to be a deaf teenager? What would it be like to make friends with someone who was deaf? And then there was Jessica Watson’s epic solo sailing circumnavigation, which coincided with my doing some sailing myself. Somehow, all these things came together in Talk Under Water.
2. When you aren’t writing, what do you like to get up to?
I love walking on the beach or the mountain. Doing yoga, laps at the pool, or dancing. Going to local markets and checking out second-hand book stalls. Meeting friends for coffee. Seeing a good – preferably foreign language – movie at Hobart’s fabulous State Cinema. Oh, and of course I have a day job.
3. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
You need to love writing for its own sake. If you have any success, it’s a bonus. Join writers’ centres and groups, attend writing classes, meet with other writers and read, read, read.
4. Which writers inspire you?
Great early inspirations were Canadian authors Michael Ondaatje and Margaret Atwood. Oddly, Canada seems to have had a lot of influence on me, one way or another. But really I’m inspired by a very broad range of writers, including some YA writers, such as Meg Rosoff, John Green, Cath Crowley, Fiona Wood, Claire Zorn. There’s some great literature out there.
5. What are some of your favourite novels?
Oh, there are so many! Michael Ondaatje’s In the Skin of a Lion, Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children and Ben Fountain’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk; and in YA, Cath Crowley’s Graffiti Moon, Meg Rosoff’s How I Live Now and Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief (although as we know this book broke through genres). The only bad thing about being a writer is that you have less time for reading!
6. What makes you happy?
Reading a good book, preferably in sunshine. Looking at the sky, day or night. Walking on beaches, mountains, especially with my son or friends. I also love swimming laps at the pool, swimming at the beach, doing yoga, cooking, reading, listening to music, listening to ABC Radio National, dancing, playing guitar, learning new things like languages, or piano, or science.
7. When and why did you first begin writing?
I began by writing and publishing short stories. I’d always been a big reader, and I think I always secretly wanted to be a writer. I belatedly did a degree in English Literature and European Languages and became an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher. I wrote stories for some of my students and that seemed to free up my creativity.
8. Do you have a specific writing style?
I don’t think so, since I write across many genres: short stories, poetry, fiction and young adult fiction. I have often favoured first person narratives in my writing, but not exclusively.