The Booktopia Book Guru asks
author of The Pause
Ten Terrifying Questions
1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?
I was born in Yorkshire England (1963). My family emigrated to Sydney when I was six years old. We were ten pound poms. I happily and proudly call myself a boat person. I grew up in the western suburbs of Sydney (in Toongabbie to be more accurate). I attended Toongabbie Primary School and then Pendle Hill High School. As to whether or not I actually did any schooling during these wilderness years remains something of a moot point.
2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?
Twelve – professional soccer player, because I was good at it.
Eighteen – professional soccer player, because I was really good at it.
Thirty – author, because my soccer career was over.
3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?
That I would pretty much amount to nothing and spend my life alone.
4. What were three works of art – book, painting, piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?
Unreliable Memoirs by Clive James. Clive James taught me that you could be both funny and literary, which is something I secretly aspired to but didn’t think was possible.
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. I read this at uni when I was doing my English degree (ditto above).
The Scream (painting) by Edvard Munch. The perfect representation of madness. And to be a writer you have to be a little bit (or in my case, more than a little bit) mad.
5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?
I don’t even know where to begin to answer this question. This might sound kind of naff, but I truly believe that I didn’t have a choice. Writing chose me. I had an unquenchable desire to write and no other art form (other than soccer – and I’m being deadly serious) came close to giving me that creative high that writing does.
6. Please tell us about your latest novel…
In January 2012 I had a complete mental breakdown and spent several weeks in a psychiatric hospital. The Pause was born of this awful period of my life. I wanted to write an uplifting novel about suicide but doubted that it could be done. It had to be hard hitting but hopeful. It took me three years and many drafts but the journey was worth everything. I hope The Pause helps others in the same way (its writing) helped me.
7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?
I hope they take away hope. We will all go through dark and desperate times but we will come out the other side but in order to do that we have to stick around. We have to ride out the dark times and that it is not a sign of weakness but rather one of strength to seek help because we cannot fight our way out of the darkness alone. We need help. We all need help.
8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?
9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?
I want The Pause to save lives.
10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?
Never give up. If you want this badly enough you will get there. But it’s not enough to just want it. You have to put in the hours. Good writing isn’t written it’s re-written.
John, thank you for playing.
by John Larkin
I watch the train emerge from the tunnel.
It will be quick.
It will be efficient.
It will be final.
Declan seems to have it all: a family that loves him, friends he’s known for years, a beautiful girlfriend he would go to the ends of the earth for. But there’s something in Declan’s past that just won’t go away, that pokes and scratches at his thoughts when he’s at his most vulnerable. Declan feels as if nothing will take away that pain that he has buried deep inside for so long.
So he makes the only decision he thinks he has left: the decision to end it all. Or does he? As the train approaches and Declan teeters at the edge of the platform, two versions of his life are revealed. In one, Declan watches as his body is destroyed and the lives of those who loved him unravel. In the other, Declan pauses before he jumps. And this makes all the difference. One moment. One pause. One whole new life.
From author of The Shadow Girl, winner of the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards 2012 Prize for Writing for Young Adults, comes a breathtaking new novel that will make you reconsider the road you’re travelling and the tracks you’re leaving behind.
About the Author
Sydney-based author John Larkin was born in England but grew up in the western suburbs of Sydney. He has, at various stages of his writing career, supported his habit by working as a supermarket trolley boy, shelf-stacker, factory hand, forklift driver, professional soccer player and computer programmer. He now writes and teaches writing full-time. John has a BA in English Literature and a MA in Creative Writing from Macquarie University. John’s The Shadow Girl won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards 2012 Prize for Writing for Young Adults.