And in the meantime, Jake, who lost his mother a year or so beforehand and continues to struggle with life after her departure, well, he doesn’t seem to have really lost anything at all but he does start discovering things - and so the lives of these characters cast in this world begin to interweave splendidly.
Without further ado I'll hand you over to the lovely author...
Writing Of Things Gone Astray
Two years ago I was working front of house at the Edinburgh Fringe. This was a mistake. My brother was in a show, and my mum had come over for the month so we were all there. When I wasn’t shepherding audiences through tightly packed waiting areas and cleaning stages that had coke spilled over them in one show and glitter thrown in the next, my mum would take me to cafes and buy me coffee while I wrote the first draft of something I was calling True and Lost.
I returned to London, to a series of sublets and temp jobs, to large scale insecurity, to the complete absence of any support network. I’d only been in London for a year and I hadn’t really found my place.
It was a book written in snatched moments, in borrowed bedrooms, on a promise that I was sure would be snatched from me at any moment. The third, fourth and twentieth drafts were written in the conservatory of a house I was staying in for a couple of weeks that ending up turning into a year and a half, and the final version was done in my mother’s garden in Christchurch last December.
As I was writing about people losing things, losing important things, and figuring out how to put themselvesback together I was reestablishing myself. This particular creative process was a two year period of gathering my thoughts, finding my feet, and learning how to breathe again.
It was also the beginning of me finally taking active and purposeful steps to choose how to live, to do what I really wanted to do, which is a terrifying thing to do because what if it all goes wrong? And even if it all goes right, what if you get comfortable with it going right only to have it all turn around and start going wrong again?
You have to be so earnest when you’re tying to be successful at something you actually really do want to do, so the further along you get the harder it’s going to be to laugh it all off when you fall flat on your face.
Every time I sent in a new draft to my publisher I was sure he’d reply with a quick polite, “so sorry but I’ve changed my mind.” Even after I told him this and he assured me it was a stupid thing to think. Even now, days away from publication, there’s a niggling fear that I’ll get a call saying “look, we’ve read it again, and we were wrong, so very wrong.”
The process of writing Of Things Gone Astray was an exercise in putting myself back together but it was also about realising that there is no way to really do that. Not completely, not perfectly. So for me it’s about learning to live with the imperfect me I’ve somehow managed to cobble together.
Of Things Gone Astray was released yesterday and is available in hardback and ebook.
About the author
Born in Christchurch, New Zealand, Janina Matthewson moved to London following the earthquake, an event which features as a pivotal part of her novel.
A trained actress, Janina has also written for the stage and screen. Her first play, Human and If was performed at The Tea House Theatre in London, directed by Sue Curnow. Her short film, The Other Side, was shown as part of the Rialto Channel’s 48 Hours project in New Zealand. She currently works for Sky, where she spends her days writing reviews.
Thanks so much to Jania for joining us on the blog today!