Holly Throsby: From Songwriter To Novelist
Holly has segued from rock star to queer murder mystery novelist.
Photo by Nic Walker, via Instagram
Holly Throsby is an Australian singer/songwriter, and now, debut novelist! She has long been an advocate for marriage equality, and has penned several op-eds about her right to marry her same-sex partner. Her novel, Goodwood, has been winning awards left, right and centre. It’s a rousing, emotional, uniquely Australian murder mystery that’s not quite a murder mystery, and features one of the most sincere, physically charged, coming-of-age lesbian relationships that we’ve had the pleasure of reading in years. We chat to Holly about her book, the switch from singing to writing, and the importance of having a local queer community.
Why was including a lesbian relationship – between your young protagonist, Jean, and newcomer to town, Evie – in your debut novel important for you?
It was important because it became part of Jean and who she is. I wanted to write, in part, a mystery novel - and Goodwood is ostensibly about the disappearance of two residents from the town. But I wanted it to be more than that, too. Jean is my narrator, and so the tone of the story comes from her voice. I didn’t know what would happen to her when I started out writing, but as it all evolved it felt right that there was some mystery inside of her that she was uncovering, at the same time as the events in the town unfold. Looking back on it now, I am happy for Jean and I salute her bravery.
As a reader, do you devour lesbian relationships in books, and search for possible signs of gayness in all fiction, as rapturously as the rest of us queers?
Not really, but I do feel pleased when portrayals of queer people in books or films of TV feel real and good. There is a massive underrepresentation of queer life in literary fiction, especially for women or femmes. It’s amazing that a book like Carol is so rare. But I feel like that is changing, slowly, and I hope it continues to evolve.
You’ve worked as a musician for decades, both as a solo artist and in Seeker Lover Keeper – what prompted the move into writing fiction, and how has your music practice influenced your writerly ways?
I think each creative practice informs the next. And weirdly I think making my children’s album helped me think a lot more freely. My solo album that followed that was much less structured and more experimental. But after so many years working in the short form of song I wanted something longer and more complex. I also wanted to tell other people’s stories, and song didn’t feel like the right place for me to do that. Goodwood came out of a series of little sketches that I wrote when I was trying to work out what to write.
Speaking at Newtown Festival earlier this year, you mentioned how thankful you are for community spaces, like Better Read Than Dead in Newtown, that cultivate and promote reading and discussion. What are some of your other favourite, welcoming community spaces in Sydney?
I love the community in the inner west in Sydney. I spend a lot of time in and around Newtown and my partner and I have a dog and a kid, so we go to parks all the time, dog-friendly pubs, the markets. I like the Bearded Tit if I was to go out on the town.
Your mum, Margaret Throsby, is a long-time ABC radio presenter. You are now mum to daughter Alvy, with your partner Zoe, and your career is going full steam ahead. What has your Mum taught you about balancing a career and motherhood?
She has done the balance well I think. She tells me to slow down if I am trying to do too much.
And finally, what’s next on the agenda for Holly Throsby?
I have started another book. It might take me a while, but I am excited about the story.
Holly is speaking at the Sydney Writer's Festival this week, at a number of events. You can catch her at:
Holly Throsby: Goodwood, May 24, 6:30 - 7:30pm, Castle Hill Library
Talking 'Til Late With Chris Taylor, May 27, 9:30 - 11pm, Pier 2/3 Walsh Bay
Holly Throsby: Goodwood - In Conversation, May 28, 1:30 - 2:30pm, Roslyn Packer Theatre, Walsh Bay