I’m pleased to be joined by writer Angela Meyer. Her debut novel A Superior Spectre has recently been published by Saraband books and she took part in the Edinburgh International Book Festival last month. Today she’s answering my Author in the Spotlight questions.
Welcome Angela, thanks for joining me today. First of all, would you tell my blog readers a little about yourself?
Sure! I am a 34-year-old writer and editor based in Melbourne, Australia. When I am not writing, working on books, or reading, I am hanging out with my partner or my adopted ex-racing greyhound, Mallory. I love travel, whisky, exercise, and a great narrative in any form, and in a range of genres. My heritage includes Dutch and Norwegian. I identify as bisexual/queer.
What inspired you to start writing?
My Oma and my Year 3 teacher, Mrs Grant, were both very encouraging of my ideas and explorations around the age of nine. My first stories were about killer whales, magic, and Michael Jackson (that’s a bit devastating now). When I was 18 I moved to Sydney and thought I wanted to get into acting, but I had no idea how, and I also wasn’t very good. My Dad asked gently if maybe I could look at studying journalism or writing. I moved back to my home town and started a film and literature degree by correspondence, and also got a job in a bookstore. From there, I completely immersed myself in books.
Tell me about your journey to publication
I wrote several manuscripts before A Superior Spectre, and I’m so glad I did. It is so hard to structure a novel, and you learn so much by doing. Also, psychologically, you have to get through a certain amount of investigation, I think, before you find what you are truly concerned with, and by then you have also better learnt the ways to explore these ‘concerns’ and render them as narrative. I also published short stories, essays, and much more in that time. While doing all this writing, over the years, I was a book blogger and reviewer, an editorial assistant, a bartender, a student (went through to a doctorate), a lecturer and workshop teacher, and then an editor and publisher. Working on other people’s books over the last four and a half years has taught me a great deal, and has also completely shaped me as a person. Every writer works differently and it has been a privilege to get to peek into their process, their lives, their thoughts, their hearts. It’s a position I’ve never taken lightly.
In a nutshell, what is your latest book about?
A Superior Spectre is about a man who runs away from near-future Australia with an experimental tech that allows him to ‘trip’ into someone’s mind in the past. He is dying and he holes up in the Scottish Highlands and over-indulges himself in escaping his grief, his shame. The other half of the novel is the story of Leonora, coming of age in 1860s Scotland, who begins to become aware of a strange presence behind her eyes…
How did you celebrate publication day?
On my Australian publication day I had a wonderful launch at independent bookstore Readings. For the UK release, I was at Edinburgh International Book Festival, which was a dream.
Do you have a work in progress just now?
My Mslexia award-winning novella, Joan Smokes, is the next release, and I am working on another novel, which has some similar themes to Spectre, such as women’s bodily autonomy, desire and grief, but is contemporary-set.
What’s your favourite book you’ve read in the past few months? Or favourite three if you really can’t choose!
The Cost of Living by Deborah Levy was incredible. I love all her work but this one was spectacular.
The Glad Shout by Alice Robinson was also so affecting – set in a climate-change addled, too real future Australia, and about intimate close family relationships (particularly mother-child) and how they weather (pun intended) change and disaster.
And I was very entertained by my EIBF panel-mate Sue Lawrence’s atmospheric gothic mystery, Down to the Sea.
What are you reading just now?
Josephine Rowe’s Here Until August. Absolutely exquisite short stories.
How can people follow you or connect with you on social media?
@literaryminded on Twitter and Insta. @literarymindedblog on Facebook. Website is literaryminded.com.au and there are some book club questions on there for A Superior Spectre, if anyone is interested!
And finally, if you could be a character in any book you have read, who would it be and why?
Hmm, horrendous things happen to the characters in my favourite books. I might have to go back to mythology. Let’s say Aphrodite. Who wouldn’t want to be a Greek goddess?
A Superior Spectre by Angela Meyer is published by Saraband (£8.99) and is available now A Superior-Spectre
From the back of the book
“A brilliant, deeply unsettling work.” Books + Publishing
Jeff is dying. Haunted by memories and grappling with shame, he runs away to a remote part of Scotland with a piece of beta tech that allows him to enter the mind of someone in the past. Instructed to only use it three times, Jeff – self-indulgent, isolated and deteriorating – ignores this advice.
In the late 1860s, Leonora lives in the Scottish Highlands, surrounded by nature. Contemplating the social conventions that bind her, her contented life and a secret romantic friendship with the local laird are interrupted when her father sends her to stay with her aunt in Edinburgh. But Leonora’s ability to embrace her new life is shadowed by a dark presence that begins to lurk behind her eyes, and strange visions.
A Superior Spectre is a novel about curiosity, entitlement and manipulation. It reminds us that the scariest ghosts aren’t the ones that go bump in the night, but those that are born and create a place for themselves in the human soul.
More about the author
Angela Meyer’s Joan Smokes won the inaugural Mslexia Novella Competition in 2019. Her short fiction has been widely published, including in Best Australian Stories, Island, The Big Issue, The Australian, The Lifted Brow and Killings. By day she works as a publisher for Echo Publishing, an Australian imprint of Bonnier Books UK, and in this role has discovered and developed a range of award-winning, globally published and bestselling talent, including global number one bestselling author Heather Morris. A Superior Spectre, Angela’s debut novel, is already shortlisted for a number of prestigious awards.