Inga Simpson, author of Mr Wigg
Tell us about your latest creation:
Mr Wigg is the story of the final year of one man’s life. His wife has died and it looks like what’s left of the family property will have to be sold off. He loses himself in his somewhat magical orchard, and spends time cooking with his grandchildren – telling them stories of the Orchard Queen. Despite his age, and Parkinson’s, he begins an ambitious project: to forge a wrought-iron tree.
I grew up on a property in Central West New South Wales, and now live in Queensland’s Sunshine Coast hinterland. I tend to call both “home” though with different meanings.
When you were a kid, what did you want to become? An author?:
An author, closely followed by spy or detective.
What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:
The next novel, the one yet unwritten. At the moment it is all possibility; without flaws.
Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:
I write in a studio looking out into bushland though odd-shaped windows – including a circle, which has me feeling a little like a hobbit some days. The interior is reasonably ordered, or starts out that way … But I do accumulate piles of papers and books to be dealt with ‘later’.
When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:
I try to read as widely as possible but tend to read a lot of contemporary Australian fiction, as well as nature writing.
What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:
Blinky Bill, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George.
If you were a literary character, who would you be?:
Sam Gribley, from My Side of the Mountain. He runs away and lives in a hollowed-out tree in the Catskill Mountains, befriending a peregrine falcon and becoming entirely self-sufficient, which appeals to me some days.
Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:
Surf, though not as often as I would like lately. Or Trivial Pursuit by the open fire on winter evenings.
What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:
Moroccan lamb and a decent glass of red wine.
Who is your hero? Why?:
Judith Wright. Not only an amazing poet but an uncompromising activist on environmental and Indigenous issues.
Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:
Reminding decision makers and educators of the value the arts, including a national literature, in tough economic times.