Today we welcome author Roger Averill to share with us how a series of questions and his enjoyment of biographies inspired his new novel Relatively Famous.
PLUS to celebrate its recent publication 2 lucky readers will win a copy of Relatively Famous in ebook — entries open worldwide.
Have you ever wanted to be famous? A rock star, perhaps? A sportsperson? Movie star? Ballerina? How about a famous author?
I think as kids many of us are infected with dreams of fame and adulation. And as adults, even when we know we’ll never realise those dreams, we still measure our own lives against the gold standard of those who have ‘made it’; made it into the pantheon of the admired and adored. It doesn’t seem to matter to us that many in that exalted space are narcissists, people who have single-mindedly developed their talents and pursued their passions at the expense of those they profess to love.
In the second half of last century, books were still close enough to the centre of the culture for their authors to be genuinely famous. The renown of writers like Norman Mailer and Sylvia Plath, Simone de Beauvoir and Gabriel Garcia Marquez extended well beyond the confines of literary circles. Yes, but at what cost?
One of the animating thoughts behind Relatively Famous was the question:
What would it be like to be the son or daughter of a celebrated author? To live in the wake, the rush and bubble, of their acclaim?
Especially if, in pursuing their talent, they had neglected you.
That, at least, is what I thought I was writing about. But for me, writing fiction is never a linear process; it’s more impressionistic, exploratory. So it was only after I’d created the character of Gilbert Madigan, a famous expat Australian author, and his late-middle-aged son, Michael, that the story unfolded itself and I discovered what it was really about.
Like many people who love reading fiction, I also enjoy reading literary biography. Having written a biography for my last book (Exile: The Lives and Hopes of Werner Pelz), I decided I wanted to play with the genre in Relatively Famous and so told Gilbert’s story through excerpts from his recently published biography. It was, however, in telling his son’s story that I came to realise that, at its heart, the book was about the way we all deal with the mixed blessings passed down to us by our parents. Quite late in the piece, I found myself giving Michael the line:
I want to give a sense of his life in order to make sense of my own.
Mick’s story is a reckoning with his past, with his attempts to avoid repeating his father’s parenting failures, while trying to escape the shadow of his professional successes. Aged in his mid-50s, he finally succeeds, reaching a point where he can envisage his life as something more than a reaction to the larger-than-life existence of his father.
By the time I finished writing Relatively Famous I realised it wasn’t really about fame at all. Instead, it was yet another response to a question that has exercised humans since antiquity: What does it mean to live a good life?
– ~ –
Relatively Famous Synopsis:
Michael and Marjorie Madigan refuse to be interviewed by biographer Sinclair Hughes for his new book Inside the Lion’s Den: The Literary Life of Gilbert Madigan. This is not surprising as Gilbert is Marjorie’s ex-husband and Michael’s mostly absent father. He is also Australia’s first Booker Prize winner, a feted and much lauded author that the U.K. and U.S. now like to call their own. Michael cannot escape his father’s life and work, and at times his own life seems swallowed by it. His father’s success is a source of undeniable pleasure but also of great turmoil.
In a world that increasingly covets fame and celebrity, Relatively Famous subtly explores notions of success, masculinity, betrayal and loss, and ultimately what it might mean to live a good life.
(304 pages, Transit Lounge Publishing – April 2018)
‘Multi-layered and moving. In this intelligently imagined narrative, Roger Averill exposes the tensions and complexities of family relationships, and the struggle for identity, with rich and poignant effect.’ Dominique Wilson, author of That Devil’s Madness and The Yellow Papers
Disclosure: If you click a link in this post and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission.
Relatively Famous is available from:
About the Author, Roger Averill
Roger Averill is the author of Exile: the lives and hopes of Werner Pelz, the novel Keeping Faith, and a travel memoir Boy He Cry: an island odyssey. Exile won the Western Australian Premier’s Prize for Non-fiction in 2012 and was shortlisted for the New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards. He lives in Melbourne, Australia.
Thanks to Transit Lounge Publishing, 2 lucky readers will win a copy of Relatively Famous by Roger Averill in ebook format.
- Open worldwide, entries close midnight 24 April 2018
- Earn extra entries in the draw by spreading the word via Twitter , Pinterest and Facebook/Google+/Webpage
- The 2 winners will be randomly selected and announced on our Facebook Page
Sorry, entries closed – see winner announcement.