Author Helen Garner returns to fiction after 16 year gap

Wed Mar 18, 2009 7:10am EDT
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By Belinda Goldsmith

CANBERRA (Reuters Life!) - For Australian writer Helen Garner, it took the end of a marriage and the death of a close friend to lead her back to fiction after a 16-year hiatus.

Garner, 66, published her first novel, "Monkey Grip," in 1977 after her dismissal as a high school teacher forced her to find a new career and she tried writing, firstly in newspapers.

But after two more novels she was drawn to non-fiction writing, exploring a sexual harassment case at a Melbourne university in "The First Stone" and the manslaughter death of a Canberra man by his girlfriend in "Joe Cinque's Consolation."

With a new novel, "The Spare Room," Garner has returned to fiction and found herself again enjoying the freedom.

"The Spare Room" is about two friends, one dying of cancer and one caring for the other.

She spoke to Reuters about her latest book and writing:

Q: Why did you return to fiction?

A: "Well, two reasons really. I was married to another novelist for 12 years or so and during that time I stopped writing fiction and concentrated on non-fiction. The marriage ended and I look back and I think I was unconsciously getting off the turf where we could be rivals. I thought I had gone to non-fiction as it suited me and I felt at ease there. I was not aware of having made a sacrifice."   Continued...