The Stella Interview: Favel Parrett on There Was Still Love
What was your first thought when you heard you’d been selected for the Stella shortlist?
I was incredibly surprised, and my heart was racing, and I was trying not to cry over the phone. I am pretty sure I made no sense at all during that conversation. I can’t really express what it means to make it on to a list as strong as this one. Being a writer is often a strange and lonely job – and you never know how your work will be received or how it will ‘survive’ out there in the big world. To get a giant YES like this means the absolute world to me. It means my book might stay in bookshops for a little longer, it means it might be easier to get my next work published, it means my years of hard work actually mean something. I am still buzzing, still elated. It is one of the greatest achievements of my career!
Can you share with us your favourite line or quote from your book?
One gherkin for me, one for my grandma and one for my grandpa.
I wanted every scene to be perfect, I think because I felt like my grandparents were in the room with me.
There Was Still Love is told in fragments – can you share with us your process on deciding what to share and what to leave unsaid?
I worked very intensely on this book. It became an obsession and I shut myself off from the world because I just wanted to be with the work. I didn’t write it in order, but followed scenes as they came. I wanted every scene to be perfect, I think because I felt like my grandparents were in the room with me. It had to be perfect for them, and so I drafted each scene at least 10-15 times. It was a process of distilling, until all that was left was the pure essence of a scene. Finding a structure that held was the hardest part (and always is for me). I still don’t understand how I found the structure really. It is a mystery how these things work out!
How long did this book take you to write from concept to completion?
This was my fastest book because I worked harder than I ever have. It took me 18 months to write. Past the Shallows took me 5 years!
How do you write? (Where, when, on what?)
In my small garden studio – which is very messy. I use Word but I also hand write a lot of stuff.
What are some other Australian women and non-binary writers that you’ve recently enjoyed?
I’ve just read Krissy Kneen’s new book (out in July) and it is the most incredible work.
What are you working on next?
I’m actually working on a middle grade chapter book about an amazing Dingo called Wandi (it is a true story and I love dingoes.)