The central storyline of my novel follows a man nicknamed ‘Lucky’ from his late teens to his seventies. Late in the day, Lucky has one final thing to accomplish before he dies. The novel traces his whole life; it’s also about the people whose lives he shapes, and who shape him.
spans 1913-2002 and comprises several strands of narrative, all of which converge. I worked hard to make everything connect, to follow a system of cause and effect, to reveal the multiple plotlines as all being contours of the same object.
Lucky may be the leading character, but the reader also meets Emily, who is trying to both revive her career and recover from a marriage breakup. Readers will encounter a bad-tempered café owner called Achilles, whose determination to exercise power over his children has terrible consequences. His daughter, Valia, resolves to overthrow him. We meet Ian Asquith, a fraudster. We see how these characters respond to success and failure and grief. The gameshow Wheel of Fortune
plays a pivotal role. So do Greek myth and literature. So does a pet snake called Louis II.
I worked on this book during a eventful period in life: I lost my father, I had a daughter, I moved from working in newsrooms to teaching at university, and I discovered I had a half-brother. In short, I learned some lessons.
And I learned, I hope, about the art of writing. Several times I took the wrong path and needed to pause and reconsider the novel I had in my hands. Whenever things went awry in the drafting process, I’d usually proceed to spend a great deal of time away from the desk, taking walks or sitting around the apartment and thinking about the manuscript. I often thought about narrative problem as if they were ruptured friendships; I tried to see the issue from different perspectives; I needed to understand what exactly had gone wrong. Then I imagined all the possibilities for the story, and I picked the best of these options and began rewriting with forgiveness and a belief in renewal.
At the heart of this novel is an Australian milieu, now obsolete, which has fascinated me all my life. My first experience of community came from the time I spent as a child in the cafes run by my grandparents and uncles and aunts. Some readers may remember the cafes and milk bars run by first- or second-generation Greek migrants in cities and towns all over Australia. Most of the cafes have disappeared; their trajectories are complete. For a long time I’ve wanted to tell a story about the café Greeks; I wanted the novel to span several decades and generations and, in this way, track how people changed over the course of a life, and how a culture changed.
Now the book is done. My real work is finished. Now I can only help to usher the book into the world, and to say thank you
to the people who have helped me along the way, and to the people who read Lucky’s