Today we welcome Tobias McCorkell to discuss the inspiration for his debut novel Everything in its Right Place.
Plus, thanks to Transit Lounge Publishing we have 2 ebook copies of this new novel to giveaway – entries open worldwide.
Disclosure: If you click a link in this post and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission.
Tobias McCorkell on writing ‘Everything in its Right Place’
Everything in its Right Place was born out of two years trying and failing to write a memoir about my childhood and upbringing, and about my family. So, in terms of inspiration, you could say it’s been my personal story that’s been most informative. Yet saying that sounds off now. The novel is a work of fiction that stands alone, and I don’t feel connected to it in the same way I would have had I published nonfiction – it isn’t an autobiography, far from it.
What I wanted to do was write what I call a ‘neighbourhood book’, something that if you lived in that place you got it straight away and if you didn’t live there, then maybe you wanted to visit. I got that from reading books like The Basketball Diaries and A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints (both set in New York) and from watching movies like Kids (Larry Clark; also set in New York). Those kinds of narratives, and I’ll admit they’re bleak, with young protagonists at their center, let you into a private world, and it was a world of the city or suburb as much as anything else.
In a way, I wanted to write a definitive ‘Coburg novel’ and to treat Coburg like a place, much like a Brooklyn or a Queens, where I was building up the mythology of that particular landscape in the way writers like Jim Carroll and Dito Montiel were building up the mythology of NYC.
I think people are averse to writing locally in Australia, because we don’t have that established presence or mythology as in a place like London or Paris, but those places have only been built up simply because a lot of people have lived there over time. There’s no big difference, in literary terms, between Coburg and The Bronx or between Melbourne and Manhattan, it’s just mostly to do with volume (of population and of existing literature). Frankly, I think where I’m from is as exciting as anywhere else in the world, which is maybe why I don’t care to travel.
The trick is recognizing that nowhere is particularly special, which means anywhere can be.
Also, I feel like there’s a strong tradition of Australian coming-of-age novels that forms part of our literary canon here. Books like Puberty Blues and Monkey Grip early on, then in the 1990s in the ‘grunge lit’ phase you have Praise and Loaded as good examples. More recently, you might look to the success of Boy Swallows Universe, too. Personally, a lesser-known example that I love is Glory This by Michelle Moo, which really deserves a lot more attention (and a reprint, whoever her publishers were!).
I would say Loaded and Monkey Grip as great examples of ‘Melbourne writing’ shaped me as a person, as someone who wanted to write and to write about the city I live in. Those books gave me ‘permission’ to have a go, which is crucial when you start out. In my own way, I really wanted to make a contribution to the tradition of Australian coming-of-age novels, something that I hope might inspire another writer in future or at least give someone solace and a confidence in their views or experiences of life.
Finally, class is something I’ve always been fascinated by and an aspect of life that’s too rarely addressed in Australia where we have a cultural delusion about existing inside an egalitarian, classless society. I grew up in Coburg and went to school in Toorak, as the protagonist in the novel does, and that experience dispelled this myth early on. I wrote Everything in its Right Place largely as a response to this subject.
Everything in its Right Place Book Synopsis
‘Equal parts harrowing coming of age story, and paean to the joys of a misspent youth, Everything in its Right Place is a heartbreaking, lyrical love letter to overcoming trauma, and finding oneself in the bohemian heart of Melbourne.’ — Liam Pieper, author of The Feel-Good Hit of the Year and Sweetness and Light
Coburg, Melbourne. Ford McCullen is growing up with his mother Deidre and his Pop and Noonie in ‘The Compound’, a pair of units in the shadow of Pentridge prison. His father, Robert, has left them to live in the bush with his new male partner. Nobody is coping.
When Ford’s paternal grandmother Queenie’s good fortune allows him to attend a prestigious Catholic private school on the other side of the river and to learn the violin, Ford finds himself balancing separate identities. At school he sees himself being moulded into an image that is not his own, something at odds with the rough and tumble of his beloved north.
Crumbling under the weight of his family’s expectations and realising that he just might be the only adult amongst them, Ford embarks on a quest for meaning while navigating the uncomfortable realities of his father’s life, his mother’s ongoing crisis, and the pillars of football and religion, delving ever deeper into a fraught search for the source of the ‘McCullen curse’.
Everything in its Right Place tackles themes of class, love and sexuality with humour, truth and grit. It is a story of the legacies and dilemmas that families bring, of how we all must find our own way, astonishingly told.
(Transit Lounge Publishing, October 2020)
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About the Author, Tobias McCorkell
Tobias McCorkell spent the first 25 years of his life in Coburg. He has taught creative writing at the University of Melbourne and has authored works of non-fiction. In 2018 he appeared at the Melbourne Emerging Writer’s Festival. He is the recipient of a 2019 Varuna Residency Fellowship. Everything in its Right Place is his first novel.
Worldwide eBook Giveaway
Thanks to Transit Lounge Publishing we have 2 ebook copies of Everything in its Right Place to giveaway. Entries open worldwide, close midnight 18 October 2020.
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