To celebrate their recent releases, we asked three authors three questions about their audiobooks, which you can purchase from your local bookstore with Libro.fm. Plus, stay tuned till the very end to learn which independent bookstores they love.
First up, here’s who we’re speaking with:
Michelle de Kretser
Here’s what they had to say about Finding the Other Woman, Scary Monsters, and No Escape:
What inspired you to write your book and how did it take shape for you?
Cole Baxter: I had a thought come in my head during one of my morning meditation sessions that seemed intriguing. I wanted to explore it some more and came up with some characters. And slowly it formed into the story with all the twist and turns!!
Michelle de Kretser: As someone who emigrated from Sri Lanka to Australia, I wanted to write a book that centred migrants of colour and reflected on their experiences in unexpected ways. I also wanted the form of the book to embody its content. I settled on a flip format because migration upends lives. With this, my sixth novel, I also wanted to push the boundaries of the novel as a form. We are accustomed to thinking of a novel as a single, continuous narrative, so I upended that by offering a split narrative that is radically discontinuous in place, time and voice. The brief disorientation the reader/listener experiences as a result of that discontinuity points to the bewilderment that migration brings—the sense migrants have that the story has changed in disconcerting ways and they have to figure out what’s going on in the new one.
Until now, I’ve avoided writing in the first person for two reasons. First, when a female author has a first-person narrative told by a woman, it’s assumed to be autobiographical. I’m writer of fiction: I make things up! I place a high value on imagination and I want credit for mine. Second, first person narrative is limited on a craft level. In previous novels, I’ve employed a mobile, third-person point of view, sometimes coming in close to a character, sometimes opening out. I was reluctant to abandon the possibilities of that. So I started my first-person narrative tentatively. Very soon, I realised that first person offers a depth and intimacy of characterisation unavailable to third-person narratives, and I relished it after that.
I wrote the Lili narrative first, because Lili’s voice—female, literary, intellectual—is close to my voice. Given that I was new to first person, Lili’s was the easier voice for me to find. By the time I’d written Lili’s story, I was confident that I could tackle Lyle’s conservative, bland, male voice. The challenge was to convey that blandness without writing blandly. I used various strategies: for example, Lyle’s language is infected with the language of advertising. I have him describe someone as being ‘as reliable as a Toyota’ to suggest his consumerism and the hyper-capitalism of his world.
Nury Turkel: My reasons to write this book include the power of personal stories and experiences that help to make the issue relatable to the general public who would feel unrelated and indifferent, the historical relevance of atrocities China is committed against the Uyghurs, the consequences of failing to stop the ongoing Uyghur genocide, and modern-day slavery in China.
In two sentences or less, what’s something that might surprise Libro.fm listeners about your audiobook?
Cole Baxter: The ending is not what you would expect, and you will definitely be satisfied!
Michelle de Kretser: Listeners can choose to start with Lili or Lyle’s narrative as they please. There is no ‘right’ order in which to listen to the book.
Nury Turkel: I was born in a re-education camp during the height of China’s cultural revolution, and I am campaigning to shut down the modern-day concentration camps where China has detained about 3 million Uyghurs and others.
What are some of your favorite audiobooks?
Cole Baxter’s picks:
Michelle de Kretser’s picks:
As a writer, I prefer paper books because they make it easier to study sentence structure, make a marginal note, and go back to a passage ages after I’ve finished the book.
Nury Turkel’s picks:
BONUS: What’s your favorite independent bookstore?
Cole Baxter: Strand Book Store in New York, NY
Michelle de Kretser: Gleebooks in Sydney, Australia
Nury Turkel: Kramers in DuPont Circle.
Michelle de Kretser’s image credit: Joy Lai