It’s taken about four years for ‘Arkie’s Pilgrimage to the Next Big Thing‘ to come from first idea to publication. This is a good thing in a way as it’s given me plenty of time to get used to the idea that I’m going to have to answer the question – what is your book about?
What I usually say is – ‘It’s a story about a woman doing a pilgrimage to the Australian big things.’ I’ve noticed when I say this that people often look puzzled, so then I add, ‘you know, the Big Prawn, the Big Pineapple…’ And then their faces clear.
But before the Big Things, there was the pilgrimage…
Undertaking a pilgrimage usually hints at a desire for transformation or redemption, which is the case for my protagonist. The story opens at Byron Bay railway station on New Year’s Eve where Arkie plans to end it all. However, as you may know, you’d be waiting an awfully long time to throw yourself under a train in Byron Bay. Arkie is a trendspotter who has carelessly lost in quick succession her husband, her lover and her ability to spot trends,. Hence the need for a pilgrimage.
When I originally started writing this book, I envisaged a story about a woman walking the Shikoku pilgrimage in Japan, which is a trek taking 60 days and going to 88 Buddhist temples. I read a lot of books about it and it sounded wonderful, but I wasn’t sure when I was ever going to find the time to do it. So, rather than hold off writing the book until I could research the pilgrimage, I decided to write about someone who wants to do it, but can’t. Arkie, I decided, would have her pilgrimage right here in Australia.
The idea for the big things came to me one day as I was driving past the Big Prawn — more or less as it does for Arkie in the book.
So that’s what my book’s about – a pilgrimage and big things.
PS. The Eiffel Tower is not one of the Big Things in the book, but I was there and my book was there and I couldn’t resist…
I will be doing a number of events in the coming weeks and I’d love you to come along. Here are the details:
Tuesday 10 February 2015 – Sydney
1:00 PM Ashfield Library – Details here.
6:30 PM Margaret Martin Library (Randwick)
This is a free event however bookings are required online http://randwickcitylibrary.eventbrite.com
Thursday 12 February 2015 – Lismore
12:00 PM Literary Lunch
La Vida Restaurant and Bar, 3/178 Keen Street, Lismore, NSW 2480
Tickets are $35 and include a two-course lunch and a glass of wine. Tickets are available via the Book Warehouse Lismore, (02) 6621 4204.
Thursday 26 February 2015 – Gold Coast
10:30 AM Elanora Library
This is a free event but bookings are recommended by phoning the library on (07) 5581 1671 or online here.
Friday 27 February 2015 – Victoria Point, Qld
10:00 AM Victoria Point Library
This is a free event but bookings are recommended by phoning the library on (07) 3884 4000
I am also doing a blog tour, starting today! Hop over there if you’d like to follow along.