Evie Wyld is the author of the new novel All the Birds, Singing. She also has written After the Fire, A Still Small Voice. She grew up in Australia and London, and lives in London, where she runs the Review bookshop.
Q: How did you come up with your main character, Jake?
A: Jake emerged as I wrote the book - she took on quite a few different personalities, but as I discovered what had gone on in her life previous to us meeting her on the island, she sort of filled out and became the person she is now.
The two strands of the novel are in that way like a conversation with each other, the events in her life explaining her personality and her personality explaining to some degree the events in her life.
I was very clear that I didn’t want her to be there to aid a romantic storyline. Often female characters tend to be there in order to fall in love or to be fallen in love with. She’s got other stuff going on like the rest of us, and that was important to me. Also her anger - being one of the things that women are not allowed to experience, I wanted to explore her anger.
Q: Why did you decide to tell the story of Jake's past going backward in time?
A: Mainly because I thought the story was told best like that. That’s the only real reason for doing anything fancy with the structure. But also, the nature of memory is such that if there’s something you flinch away from, you wad it down with everything else first, pad it out with other memories so its sharp edges can’t get to you.
I also like the thing that happens when two moments that do not exist in real life next to each other are set against each other - in the same way that putting orange next to blue changes both of those colours - a third space is created which has everything to do with the reader.
Q: How was "All the Birds, Singing" chosen as the book's title?
A: It was just a line I liked that seemed to speak of how something beautiful can be overwhelming when there is too much of it. It came initially from an image I had of a bush fire and all the birds rising up just before it really gets going, trying to escape.
Q: What books are you recommending lately to your bookshop's customers?
A: Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson, Pollard by Laura Beatty, The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan and The Night Guest by Fiona McFarlane.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I’ve just finished a graphic novel with an artist that comes out in the UK next year, called Everything is Teeth, and I’m working on a third written novel, but it’s early days.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: I run a bookshop in South London called Review -- here it is: http://www.reviewbookshop.co.uk/
--Interview with Deborah Kalb