Sing Pastiche to Me by Joshua Wilde
Our hero’s name is Sarah Kanake and she is an author from Gympie. Her debut novel, Sing Fox To Me, was published earlier this year. An Australian Gothic tale set in Tasmania.It’s the story of twin brothers who leave Queensland to live with the grandfather they’ve never met in Tasmania. One brother isJonah, an ominous, angry boy who develops a dark obsession with the mysteries of his surroundings. The other twin, Samson, has Down-Syndrome and finds delight and fascination with the mountain. Their grandfather, Clancy has become a broken man since his daughter, River Fox, disappeared. Yet he is determined to bring her home. Each character is lost in their own way and there’s something about the surrounding bush…something which can’t quite be explained.
Sarah picks up another assignment but finds it hard to focus. Something that has been burrowed in her mind is scratching its way to the surface. She has an interview coming up. A student of hers writes for a local magazine and asked if she would like to be the subject of an article. She asked if he was a journalist.
‘Well…no. Not as such.’
She decided it best not to inquire what that meant exactly, instead agreeing to the interview. What’s the worst that could happen? Sure, this student was a bit of a weirdo, but if she wanted a weirdo-free world, she’d have to cut a lot of people out of her life. What’s important is that this guy isn’t dangerous. Probably. All she knows is, that he’s from Gympie, like her, wants to be a writer, like her, and reads a lot… like her. She finds it difficult to predict what this student will write though. To calm herself, she thinks about her novel, about the answers she can give to whatever questions this ‘journalist’ plans to ask.
Setting plays a vital role in Gothic fiction. When people think of ‘the Gothic’, what comes to mind are castles before anight sky.They think of foggy moors where gloomy yet irresistible loners tend to wander. Or they think of black-haired teenagers writing poetry while listening to The Cure. In Australian Gothic fiction, the unknown elements of the environment are heightened. Weird stuff happens. People go for a walk and have a habit of not coming back.Gothic stories are about finding the unfamiliar in the familiar. They’re about revealing the mysteries of our environment; about asking questions which are never quite answered. In Sing Fox To Me, the setting is the evocative Tasmania forest on Tiger Mountain.Jonah, Samson and Clancy spend much time wandering through the forest, discovering things about the mountain, and themselves.
Sarah grew up in somewhere quite different. Her environment was wide open, hot and dense with bushland. That part of Queensland which isn’t the postcard-ready beaches but not quite the outback either. It was the perfect, quiet environment to become obsessed with reading. Sarah was already reading novels before she started school and her love affair with books only grew from there. Since returning to Queensland, she’s been blown away by the artistic community that has grown on the coast. Everything from the numerous Independent Bookstores, to events like Outspoken, and the work produced by her students encouraging the blossoming creativity of the community. There was something about leaving the Sunshine Coast that made her discover so much more about it when she returned.
As she leaves her office, she decides to be optimistic about this article. If nothing else, it will hopefully let readers know that her novel, Sing Fox To Meis available in all good book shops and that they should buy it immediately. She also hopes the writer is at least subtle when it comes to plugging her book.
It’s summer break and instead of the usual hustle, the university is quiet and near deserted. Sure, the occasional academic can be found haunting the hallways and the sounds of summer students can be heard in the distance, but overall, the place is… different. Familiar yet, somehow not. The wildlife has taken advantage of the lack of students and have started to inhabit the university grounds more thoroughly. Kangaroos lounge on the grass, looking at passers-by with casual disinterest. Ducks waddle in lines through the undercover areas of the buildings. Each step Sarah takes echoes through the vacant landscape.
She arrives at the café and finds her interviewer already sitting there. His hair is a mess, as though it hasn’t heard of a comb, let alone seen one. His eyes have bags beneath them which underline his lack of sleep. He wears a black shirt and jeans despite it being 30 something degrees out. Our hero sits down and the questions flood through her mind. What is he going to write? What type of questions will he ask? She clears her throat.
‘So… what type of article is this going to be?’
The interviewer smiles and shrugs before reading the first question scrawled across his notepad.