Julie Proudfoot grew up in country Victoria, Australia and has lived in Melbourne, London and California. She is an Australian writer who has had fiction, poetry and non-fiction works published in various journals. She holds degrees in psychology and sociology from La Trobe University. Julie’s first novel “The Neighbour” won the Seizure Viva La Novella Prize in 2014. Julie writes fulltime from her home in Bendigo where she lives with her husband and children.
NLK: What made you decide to be a writer?
JP: I don’t know the practical answer to this question, but I do know that I have a drive and passion for teasing out the ‘why’ of behaviour, and I think analysing behaviour is at the core of my writing – my childhood was full of strange adult behaviour that needed understanding — combine this with my separate love and awe of reading and the written word, and voila! You have a writer!
NLK: I’ve read your book “The Neighbour” and found it to be both beautiful and shocking at the same time. What was your motivation for the subject matter?
JP: The inciting incident/beginning of “The Neighbour” is a true event that occurred many years ago; it’s a visual image that I have not been able to evict from my mind, so I think exploring the story was necessary to help my brain and emotions make sense of it.
NLK: You have lived in a variety of different places from country Victoria to California. Has living in different places shaped you, not only as an adult, but as a writer too?
JP: Absolutely, the one element I take away from travel ( and use in writing ) is that sense of being on the outside and looking in – experiencing a world alternate to your home helps you to see it in a detached way. It gifts you with the ability to compare and understand, to analyse and accept, and appreciate.
NLK: What are you currently working on?
JP: I’m working on a novel that may never see the light of day. It’s a novel that has been with me for many years, about a homeless man, one of those works that you need to get out of your system but may not necessarily be a great book, do you know what I mean? Once I’ve finished, and I almost have, I will get back to a book I have been working on that looks at the different approaches, between male and female, to the future of robotics (and there is a decidedly different approach). That sounds very techy doesn’t it, but it has a human story, written from the view of a man who uses robots to deal with his relationship problems.
NLK: Is it important to be in contact with other writers and creatives?
JP: This is a yes and no answer; I think it’s important to have contact with other creative people, as they understand your crazy life better, and you can discuss work and writing and the writer’s life, but when it comes to the actual work, I think removing yourself from the industry (and perhaps social media too) and being yourself in your everyday life is important.
NLK: Is there such a thing as writer’s block? How do you combat it?
JP: I haven’t experienced writers’ block, but I know people who have, and it is a real thing for them. I think having a rounded life is important; you can’t expect to keep taking things from your mind and not fill it up again, Fill The Well, as Julie Cameron says. I think it’s important to remain connected to your life, your friends, your family, your pets (as I answer these questions, our new kitten sits behind me, fluffing – if that doesn’t shake your mind) exercise, walking, ( I do yoga – I’m planning on mastering the splits by my next birthday – big ask on my body, I know) parties are good for the mind (I hate parties – I make myself go) and getting into other creative interests, art – either participating or viewing, and most importantly, getting in the outdoors, plant a garden, touch some dirt and greenery – and oh yes eating, going out, getting coffee, and looking at a great meal that someone else has put together for you: all great things for stirring creative thoughts.
Excerpt from “The Neighbour”:
Luke holds the front door ajar and watches the narrow view of dawn. The red and orange and pink of the sky merge above the end of the street where the homes sprawl into a maze of houses and concrete. The sun arrives from behind the house, and wipes out the colour with white light. It purifies the new day, and he closes the door quietly. The house is cold; the day not yet disturbed.
He lies back in bed beside Laney. He can sense the language of her body; she’s rigid, and feigns sleep; he listens to her regulate her breathing. They don’t speak, but it’s too early to get up, too late to sleep.
The soundless space is ample room for voices to echo accusations of mistakes and bad choices; he needs to move his body and shake off the thoughts that search for him even as he tries to sleep. He rolls to his side and raises the thin sheets. He sits on the edge of the bed. She’s angry at him, he can feel it, but there’s nothing he can do.
Why don’t you stop me?’ he says in defence. She has a choice. She can stop him if she wants to.
‘I didn’t hear you go,’ she says.
He doesn’t believe her. She heard him go, but chose to let him. Just so she could be angry when he came back.
Excerpted from “The Neighbour” By Julie Proudfoot 2014 Copyright © Julie Proudfoot