Rod Jones: When I Knew I was a Writer

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Rod Jones is the author of the multi-award winning novel Julia Paradise and Prince of the Lilies, Billy Sunday, Nightpictures and Swan Bay. His new book, The Mothers, draws upon his own life and much of social history in Melbourne in the 20th century. It also includes his first meeting with his birth mother. In The Mothers his protagonist, an author, gives a public reading of his work to which he has invited her, as happened in real life. We asked Jones when he knew he was a writer.
“Inspiration comes to us through grace and luck. The conception and growth of a novel is unpredictable. That’s why, even after publishing half a dozen novels, I still always have to begin anew. Writers are “always apprentices” in this sense. Writing is “gardening, not architecture”. There are no guarantees.
It is 1985 and I have been trying to write a novel for ten years. I work as a high school teacher in Queenscliff, Victoria. I wake before dawn and spend the hours between six and eight sitting at home at my desk, writing and smoking. I have been reading Freud and writing about China. Most days what I write is banal.
Then, for no apparent reason, something changes. The mind which speaks the sentences becomes attuned to a mysterious source, elusive yet powerful. During these moments, it’s as if the pen is held by another hand. The ego dissolves, one becomes mere conduit.
The novel I am writing is Julia Paradise, which will go on to win prizes and be published around the world. But all that is still in the future.
For now, in the hour before dawn, I am nothing. There is only story.”
Rod Jones’s most recent novel is The Mothers (Text Publishing).
You can buy it here

Rod Jones. Photo by Maria Vella.

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