Interview: Charlotte Wood

The Stella Prize chats with Charlotte Wood, about her shortlisted book, The Weekend.

Charlotte Wood

What was your first thought when you heard you’d been selected for the Stella shortlist?

I was genuinely really surprised to have made it to the list a second time – and then very excited to think of a return to beautiful Grasstrees retreat thanks to the Trawalla Foundation! So I felt supremely lucky.

Can you share with us your favourite line or quote from your book?

“People thought that when you got old you wanted your lost youth, or lost love, or men or sex. But really you wanted work and you wanted money.”

I loved writing about people who felt real to me, who are not terribly ‘likeable’ and yet – to me anyway – deeply loveable.

The Weekend centres on an intimate friendship circle – can you share with us some of the challenges (or freedoms) in writing about a narrative that challenges characters that share so much (or so little) in common?

There were a number of writerly technical challenges that I enjoyed mastering – particularly the very mobile shifting point of view within the same scene or moment, to show how the friends repeatedly (and hopefully sometimes poignantly) misunderstand each other. I also wanted to write the kind of book that is my true favourite – a novel about people’s interior worlds – while still keeping some control of some narrative urgency. I love that stuff. And I loved writing about people who felt real to me, who are not terribly ‘likeable’ and yet – to me anyway – deeply loveable. Charting human frailty and the ways we so easily misread others while also deceiving ourselves was a great challenge to me, and I loved doing it. Plus, after The Natural Way of Things, spending a lot of a book being playful and (hopefully) funny was just a delight.

How long did this book take you to write from concept to completion?

It’s always hard to tell, because for me a new book begins forming itself from a tiny seed in my mind well before the previous one is finished – but around four years this time..

“Charting human frailty and the ways we so easily misread others while also deceiving ourselves was a great challenge to me, and I loved doing it.”

How do you write? (Where, when, on what?)

At home, at a rental coast house, in offices I’m fortunate to have available to me – and always on a laptop. I’m not much good at longhand and really can’t think anymore unless I’m typing.

What are some other Australian women and non-binary writers that you’ve recently enjoyed?

Vicki Hastrich, Carrie Tiffany, and Melissa Lucashenko.

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