Our podcast episode this week explores a popular sub genre of historical fiction – parallel narratives. Our host, Greg Johnston, introduces a discussion chaired by Diane Murray with Tea Cooper, Carla Caruso and Emily Madden on Intertwining Lives Revealed: the mystery in parallel narratives. Please enjoy this recorded live session from the HNSA 2019 conference program, and subscribe to Imagining the Past to catch future episodes.
Elisabeth Storrs, Chair, HNSA
Intertwining Lives Revealed: the mystery of parallel narratives
Parallel narratives with interlocking stories crossing different eras have been used to great effect in historical novels. What plot devices do authors use to trace the connections between their characters? Do writers use the same techniques as in historical mysteries? And how do they balance the competing voices that must be heard in order for revelation to be achieved? Tea Cooper, Emily Madden, Carla Caruso discuss with Diane Murray the challenges of intertwining lives around historical eras.
About our speakers
Tea Cooper is an award winning Australian author of historical fiction. In a past life she was a teacher, a journalist and a farmer. These days she haunts museums and indulges her passion for storytelling. She is the bestselling author of several novels, including The Horse Thief, The Cedar Cutter, The Currency Lass and The Naturalist’s Daughter. Her latest book, The Woman in the Green Dress, was released at the end of 2018.
Carla Caruso was born in Adelaide, Australia, and only ‘escaped’ for three years to work as a magazine journalist and fashion stylist in Sydney. Previously, she was a gossip columnist and fashion editor at Adelaide’s daily newspaper, The Advertiser. She has since freelanced for titles including Woman’s Day, That’s Life and Cleo. These days, she writes foodie romance fiction – with a historical twist – in between playing mum to twins Alessio and Sebastian, making fashion jewellery, and restoring vintage furniture. She regularly draws on her Italian heritage for her tales.
Emily Madden is a contemporary and historical fiction and author. Her love of books started at a young age and she would often go shopping with her mother just so she could score yet another novel. Nothing has changed – she rarely leaves a bookstore without a book. Emily lives in Sydney, with her two girls and husband. She loves coffee and is forever frequenting her local coffee haunts. She has an unnatural obsession with needing to be close to the ocean, but is terrified of deep water.
Diane Murray is an interior architect and writer who designs offices by day but writes and reads historical fiction at night. Her recent novel, Printer’s Ink, the biography of Australian newspaper pioneer Marion Leathem and the accompanying exegesis, Unreal Truths: The Lies in Every Story investigate the impact of historical biography on the writer’s unconscious mind and the intriguing psychological transferences which occur between a writer and her subject. Printer’s Ink is due for publication in 2020. Previously a former Deputy Chair of Writing NSW, Diane has been on the committee of the HNSA since 2014. Diane was awarded her PhD in 2016.
G.S. Johnston is the author of three historical novels – Sweet Bitter Cane (2019), The Cast of a Hand (2015), and The Skin of Water (2012), and a fourth novel set in contemporary Hong Kong, Consumption (2011). The novels are noted for their complex characters and well-researched settings. After completing a degree in pharmacy, a year in Italy re-ignited his passion for writing and he completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature. Feeling the need for a broader canvas, he started writing short stories and novels. Originally from Hobart, Tasmania, Johnston currently lives in Canberra, Australia.