Marian Matta’s Life, Bound moves through time and place, following characters who struggle to escape the past and strive to shape the future.
Free agents or captives of our past? In Life, Bound, characters find themselves caught in situations not of their own making, or trapped by ingrained habits, walking in grooves carved out by past events.
An artist’s progress is pleasingly channelled into a pattern laid down a century earlier. A solitary man’s story is almost preordained but is indecipherable to researchers looking back some sixty years later. Karma mops up in the wake of a mousy clerk. A local legend falls foul of the town gossip. Spouses are constrained or liberated by love. Sexuality, gender, resentments, attachments and perversities all play a part. Yet the grip of the past needn’t always hold firm. Many protagonists are offered a potentially life-changing moment; whether or not they grasp it is up to them.
If you could change your life would you have the courage?
Let's talk about it
Tell us something about yourself that not many people know.
I discovered circus class at the age of 59, after my granddaughter and daughter took it up. I give most things at least one go, and I still dream of perfecting my dive roll. Getting up on stage and performing in a daffy costume with the rest of my circus class members is a huge delight.
Why did you choose these themes in your book and were you aware of them from the outset?
I selected stories which fitted the theme once I realised how often I write about the choices we make or don’t make and the grooves we allow ourselves to be trapped in. The theme initially came about when I was thinking of a nonfiction piece I wrote about the deaths of my parents.
How difficult was it for you to write this book? Did you face any obstacles?
Overcoming dreadful shyness and nerves was the main problem. The actual writing was, as (almost) always, pure pleasure.
Do you always write in this genre or do you like to break out of the box?
I love writing short stories because they allow a wide variety of characters, styles, and voices to be used. Within the short story format I don’t deliberately restrict myself to any genre. I just follow my nose when writing. I also love to write novels, mainly historical. The one which is uppermost in my drawer is about a young woman who fights against the flow of society’s expectations in the late 19th century.
With hindsight, what would you say to yourself as a fledgling writer?
Have the courage to try and fail and try again. Have the belief in your own ability to write well. And remember that something is still good even if it never gets published
For decades I wrote whatever was called for, from medical articles and historical research to film scripts, but I began concentrating on the short story format in 2006 after being inspired by Annie Proulx’s Brokeback Mountain.
My stories have subsequently appeared in several anthologies, but Life, Bound is my first solo collection. I’m a grandmother, history tragic, internet junkie and circus student, living in Victoria’s Dandenong Ranges with my partner, and I’m pleased to call Heath Ledger my muse. Optimism is my watchword.