Our authors are the heart of Ventura - without them we wouldn’t have the books we do! But what makes them tick? What lies behind their passion for literature? To answer these sought after questions, we’re bringing you the Five Questions With series to give you a little more insight into who lies behind the words you’re reading.
July’s release is The Warming, the debut novel from lawyer-turned-author Craig Ensor. The Warming joins the growing genre of climate fiction in Australia, but at its heart it presents a world of hope and love in even the worst of circumstances. You can read more about the plot here.
What do you love about writing and literature?
As a reader I love the power of stories to move and pull at both the heart and the mind, the beauty of a perfectly made sentence, the sound and look of words rubbing against each other, and the fact that literature – as the nearest thing to life – is the only art form that can get close to representing consciousness or what it feels like to be human. As a writer I love trying – with mixed success – to achieve all of the above.
2. Tell us a little about the inspiration behind your latest work.
The story came to me initially as an image of a couple living in the future who were trying to get away from their past lives – a dark secret, the technologies and obligations of modern urban life – by moving to a remote beach house. It grew from there to be story of how it feels to live in a world nearing its end as a consequence of rampant climate change, and the importance of love and family in the face of such terrifying change. If anything it’s about love – love between husband and wife, parents and children, between each other – and found its inspiration in my love for my family.
3. What are you currently reading (or watching or listening to)?
I just finished reading George Saunders’ Lincoln in the Bardo which is a great example of successful experimentation in fiction; that is, it is formally novel and readable. It shows how the best novels – because they deal with situation and action – can create a poetics of space which is largely unique to that art form. The parts where Lincoln is holding his dead son Willie in the crypt are also heartbreaking. As for watching, like almost everyone else, I watched the last series of Game of Thrones and am looking for something on Netflix to replace it!
4. Tell us about the book that has impacted you the most.
When I was thirteen or so I read Smith by Leon Garfield as part of the school curriculum. It was kind of a Dickensian young adult novel before young adult became the industry it is now. What was so impactful about it was the fact that it took me to another world – Victorian London – but even more so that I had no idea what was going on. Lacking the life experience to comprehend much of the narrative and its themes, it became a challenge for me which lured me into the contest of comprehension (or writing). I learned that books could be like a puzzle of meaning, and that it took skill and hard work to fit the pieces together to complete the puzzle, which was all part of the enjoyment.
5. What is the value of books in the fast-paced, digital world that we live in?
Books slow down and reduce our thinking and attention to the open page. They are real, tactile, sensory. They open up a space for noticing details and things that would be overlooked in a fast-paced digital world. They also open up a space for the imagination to be exercised, not only by filling in gaps of narrative and character that may have opened up in the novel we are reading, but the openness and freedom to let the imagination wander away from the book to other things, other stories we tell ourselves or forms of thinking that have no space to exist in daily fast paced life. They are also the most convenient form of technology – small, light – they don’t need a charger or a password!
Read more about Craig and his latest book, The Warming.