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Interview regarding Yellowcake Summer in IP Enews 59

[Guy Salvidge talks about his sequel to Yellowcake Springs, Yellowcake Summer, with David Reiter.]

DR: Yellowcake Summer is the sequel to your first IP title,Yellowcake Springs. Did you plan to write a sequel from the outset, or did it occur to you after you’d written the first book?

GS: I originally intended Yellowcake Springs to be a standalone title, but I found that after completing it the main characters were still kicking around in my head, wanting another chance. In particular, I had a clear idea of how I wanted Jeremy to develop from the ‘second string’ character that he is in the first novel to one of the major players in Yellowcake Summer.Furthermore, as the ‘Belt region of the Yellowcake universe is based on my own home in the Avon Valley, I found myself inspired by some specific settings, such as those that became Ley Farm and The Rusty Swan.

DR: Did the writing of the first book make it easier to get into the second? Did you learn anything from the reviews of Yellowcake Springs?

GS: Yellowcake Springs was certainly a breakthrough novel for me and it gave me confidence to start working on the sequel soon after publication. A number of people expressed their empathy for Rion’s plight in particular, so I made sure to keep him as the ‘moral centre’ of the sequel. Reviews of Yellowcake Springs were almost uniformly positive so I decided to stick to pretty much the same formula for Yellowcake Summer. The books can probably be seen as two halves of one longer, and now completed, story.

DR: The dystopian novel has been a popular sub-genre for some time. How much of this has to do with our fascination with doomsday stories and our uncertainty about the future?

GS: Dystopias are very much in vogue these days and it isn’t hard to see why. Fears about climate change, terrorism, food and water security and humanitarian crises are played out in dystopian stories of various kinds. It’s our way as writers and readers of expressing our discontent with the present course our civilisation seems to be taking. Growing up, I was fascinated with nuclear war and after-the-bomb scenarios, but it wasn’t until I watched An Inconvenient Truth in 2006 that I realised that climate change would be to my generation what nuclear war had been to that of my parents.

DR: Both novels are set in Western Australia. What strategies did you adopt to make their themes more universal?

GS: In my twenties I was leery of writing about Australian settings. My first published novel, The Kingdom of Four Rivers, was set hundreds of years into the future in a jungle-infested China, for example. On reflection, however, I realised that a certain verisimilitude would always be missing in constructing such settings, so I decided to set Yellowcake Springs in a world I personally knew. It was around this time that I also began to read a lot of Southern US fiction, which is almost always imbued with a strong sense of place and stubborn regionality. I realised then that I ought to be proud of my own regionality myself. Insofar as the themes in these or any novels can be said to be universal, I felt that the plight of my characters would be reasonably relatable to a non-Australian audience.

DR: Your ‘day job’ is teaching. Are your colleagues and students aware of your other life, and, if so, how do they respond to Guy Salvidge, the author?

GS: They certainly are! Some of my students like to remind me about how much they can find out about me on Google, which seems to be as accurate a measure of fame as any these days. As I teach English for a living, I find that the fact that I actively write stories gives me a certain credibility with students too. Some of my colleagues are quite enthusiastic about my work and a number of them have supported me over the years in various ways. But, for staff and students alike, my primary role as author is in disabusing them of the notion that I am (or very soon will be) a millionaire. I’m not in a position to retire from teaching just yet!

http://ipoz.biz/News/eNews59.htm

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