The Booktopia Book Guru asks
author of Hush, Little Bird
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 and raised in South Africa. I came to Australia at eighteen and went through university here. I have a Master’s Degree in children’s literature and I was a high school teacher before I had my first child. I originally went to university to study Law but gave that up after writing my first essay. I was more interested in the drama of ancient Greece and less interested in what that all meant for the study of Law. While trying to figure out what to do I wrote a short story for the university magazine and flippantly thought, ‘If this gets published I’ll switch to an English degree.’ It did and I did.
2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?
I always wanted to be a writer. Even when I couldn’t even conceive of writing a novel I knew that immersed in a book was my favourite place to be. At eighteen I wanted to write children’s literature and I think I stuck with that idea until I came up with the plot for my first published novel.
At thirty I wanted to be able to say that I was a published writer, not just an aspiring author. It took many years after that for my dream to be realised.
3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?
I believed that there would be a time when I truly felt like an adult and where I was in control of all aspects of my life. Now I know that maturity brings with it the realisation that this will never really be the case. Very few things in life are clear cut and absolute control of anything is really just an illusion.
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?
I am, as most writers are, a great reader. Because I have read so widely I can’t really say that any novel in particular has had a great effect on my writing but rather that certain novelists have taught me some things about the craft. I love Fay Weldon and Terry Pratchett for their dark humour and Joanna Trollope for her light touch when it comes to domestic drama. I love the music in Alice Hoffman’s language and the spare prose of Australian writers like Olga Masters. Over time I have read everything from romance novels to crime series. Now when I read and am struck by a sentence or an idea I will take time to look at how the author has been able to create that feeling and learn from that.
5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?
Stories have always been my preferred form of expression. It never occurred to me to try anything else.
6. Please tell us about your latest novel…
Hush, Little Bird is the story of two very different women; Rose who has lived her life in the spotlight and Birdy who has lived her whole life hiding from the truth. It takes an act of violence for Birdy’s secrets to overwhelm her and then fate steps in and brings the two women together. The novel unfolds through the eyes of each woman and the reader gradually learns what connects them and why Birdy is determined to have her revenge.
7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?
I always hope that readers wish they didn’t have to put the book down and that perhaps they have been able to think about something in a different way.
Just a few of the authors I admire are: Fay Weldon, Terry Pratchett, Elizabeth Berg, Alice Hoffman, Peter Goldsworthy, Douglas Adams, Alice Walker and Margaret Atwood. Every couple of weeks I pick a letter of the alphabet at the library and try to find a new author to admire.
9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?
I just want to keep writing and keep getting published and hopefully have readers say that each book is better than the last.
10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?
The obvious ones-which are to read all the time and to write all the time, even when you don’t want to or are feeling despondent about your latest rejection. Also there are a lot of organisations you can join and competitions you can enter that will get your novel or short story in front of someone who can see the potential in a writer’s work. Give everything a go!
Nicole, thank you for playing.
by Nicole Trope
A celebrity wife. A damaged young woman. How did they both end up in prison and what is the secret they share? White-knuckle reading from the queen of domestic suspense.
Birdy thought she would have to wait until she was free again to see Rose, but now Rose has been convicted of a shocking crime and she and Birdy will be together. Birdy has been saving all her anger for Rose. It is Rose who should have protected her and kept her safe. Birdy was little but Rose was big and she knows Rose could have saved her.
This is a story about monsters who hide in plain sight and about the secrets we keep from ourselves. It is about children who are betrayed and adults who fail them. This is the story of Birdy who was hurt and Rose who must be made to pay.
A provocative and compassionate read from the queen of white-knuckle suspense and searing family drama. You won’t be able to put it down.
About the Author
Nicole Trope is a former high school teacher with a Masters Degree in Children’s Literature. In 2005 she was one of the winners of the Varuna Awards for Manuscript Development. In 2009 her young adult novel titled I Ran Away First was shortlisted for the Text Publishing Prize. The Secrets in Silence is Nicole’s third novel. Her previous titles include the acclaimed The Boy Under The Table and Three Hours Late.