Gotta love blog titles that accidentally come out sounding like Harry Potter books… Moving on! Today, we play host to Foz Meadows, whose debut novel, Solace & Grief was recently released. It’s a fantasy novel set in Sydney – it’ll do for the Sydney CBD what Platform 9 3/4 did for London’s King’s Cross Station (what’s with all the Harry Potter references this morning?!). Let’s just say, you’ll never look at Town Hall the same way ever again…
The first foray into the Land of the Published Author
It’s pretty exciting that people are now able to read Solace & Grief. If I’m honest, though, it’s also a little terrifying. Here’s a story that I’ve sweated over, that has two planned volumes yet to come, and which constitutes my first foray into the Land of the Published Author. How could I not be nervous? The fact that I believe in the story and love my characters doesn’t mean that everyone else will. It’s a bit like the feeling I get whenever I walk through a pair of those anti-shoplifting machines: even though I know I’m not breaking any rules, part of me still tenses up, worried that the alarm will go off anyway.
With the book on shelves, I’m finally starting to realise that this is real. Back when I was dancing the submission-rejection tango, it felt like all my favourite authors were at a party I hadn’t been invited to, but was desperate to attend. It’s something I blogged about late last year, well after I’d signed the contract, but still during the editing process, and months before I ever held a copy of the book. To a certain extent, it’s how I still feel, even though my metaphoric status at the party has changed: instead of snooping around the kitchen, I’m clutching a rumpled invitation, laying out a dress to wear and giddily endeavouring not to fall over in a pair of unfamiliar heels. Here is the paradox of determination: I’ve spent so long dreaming about this point in my life and struggling to reach it that, now the moment is upon me, I can’t quite grasp it. When I imagine the post-publication life, it feels like I’m sixteen again, my head on a desk as I doze through class – and then I realise I’m not, and it isn’t, and the book thing is actually happening.
All of a sudden, something that used only to matter to me now involves the opinions of other people. Will they like Solace, my brave vampire girl with the cynical sense of humour? Have I done justice to Sydney – will any readers walk it in their mind’s eye, or have I made it an unfamiliar place? Are the things I intended as funny actually funny? It’s like starting a new school all over again, waiting for the hive-mind to make itself up. But despite my nerves, my worries and general tendency to babble at inappropriate moments, I wouldn’t miss a minute of this. I’m proud of Solace & Grief, and I cannot wait to see where being an author takes me.
Which brings me to the story itself. I try not to quote the blurb if I can possibly avoid it, but then, it’s difficult to know what to say without spoiling things while still giving a reasonable hint of what’s to come. So: there is a girl who has grown up with secrets. She has enemies, but also manages to find some friends. There is drinking, and mischief, and probably a few bad decisions, and at least one attempt to catch an ibis. There are dreams that might be more than dreams, and coincidences that might be more than coincidence. There is a riddle-song, and laughter, and loss. And, as always, there are questions. They might not always be answered prettily, of course, but still they raise their heads, like jasmine flowers twisting towards the moon.
That’s Solace & Grief, or part of it. And if you should choose to give it a try, I hope you don’t find it to be entirely full of suck.
– Foz Meadows