Today it gives me great pleasure to welcome Sally Piper to Behind the Pen, here to talk about a few of her favourites. Over to you Sally, what is your favourite…and why…
Character from one of your books?
Lisa from The Geography of Friendship remains a favourite character. I know she will polarize readers because of her easy anger and tendency for recklessness, but she is also incredibly loyal and protective of her friends, which is something I value. And I like that she expresses her anger. I think as women we often suppress anger from habit or from the fear that we will be seen as hysterical, unseemly or a harridan; labels given because an angry woman makes demands on people (on men) that aren’t usually made of them, and dares to suggest that change is required.
Scene from one of your books?
There is a scene in The Geography of Friendship that is a gentle and quiet one but offers so much promise for the repair of the friendship between Lisa, Samantha and Nicole. It occurs on the second hike. They have just walked the length of a long beach, which was really tough going, especially for Samantha, the least fit of the three. The beach represented a major breaking point in their friendship on the first hike, so it carries particularly troubling memories for each of them. Samantha is fatigued and has painful blisters on her feet and her boots are full of sand. They stop to empty the sand from their boots before tackling a difficult ascent. Nicole, who has remained mostly uncommunicative and distant from the other two since they set out three days earlier, takes care of Samantha’s feet. She tenderly wipes the sand from them, reapplies blister plasters, bangs the sand from the weave of her socks and helps Samantha put them and her boots on again. Lisa watches these simple acts of intimacy and kindness and feels she is witnessing not first aid but an anointment. I wanted to instill hope in this scene. It still moves me when I read it.
Indulgent I know, but I would like to mention one other scene, this one from Grace’s Table. I can’t give details of the scene as it represents the climax of the novel, but it is more the writing of it that I want to draw attention to. It is a deeply harrowing scene and it hurt a great deal to write. It was a longer scene initially, about 3000 words, and I wrote it in one day. When I finished it I felt emptied and had to leave the house and go for a long walk to escape from what I’d written, the pain of it. I will never forget this day of writing and I still can’t read the scene without crying. It reminds me of the power of words.
Movie of all time?
I can’t choose between A Knight’s Tale, because it’s laugh-out-loud funny, sexy, has a great soundtrack and costumes and such an upbeat ending, and Dangerous Liaisons, because it is suggestively erotic, has equally spectacular costumes but delivers such a heart-achingly tragic but fitting end. Movies that are polar opposites really – love confirmed in one and betrayed in the other!
Book that you always keep a copy of and recommend to others?
The Prophet by Lebanese-American poet, philosopher and artist Kahlil Gibran. This slender book was given to me by the mother of a young man I nursed while working on a neurosurgical critical care unit in the UK in 1992. Sadly her son, aged only twenty, never regained consciousness and died, so I never really got to “meet” him, as his mother described it in the letter she included with the book.
She also said: …you might explore some of the insights in this book, and think of him. He was exploring the mysteries of life and would, I think, have enjoyed it.
This book and letter is one of my most treasured possessions and when I read it I do think of him, twenty-six years on.
Fashion accessory that despite having plenty of, you still keep collecting?
Look, it’s a cliché, but shoes, and I’m yet to work out why.
Drink that you enjoy everyday?
Coffee, but I limit it to no more than three a day, which is probably two too many, but better I guess than two too many glasses of Pinot Noir.
Treat you indulge in?
A Portuguese custard tart from Lisboa Caffe. Sublime!
Place to be?
Walking in the bush.
Person you admire?
Anybody who writes something, puts it out there, gets a knockback but turns up at the desk again the next day.
Season of the year?
Autumn. Because I don’t have to think about Brisbane’s eyeball-drying heat and hair-curling humidity for several months.
The Geography of Friendship
When three young women set off on a hike through the wilderness they are anticipating the adventure of a lifetime. Over the next five days, as they face up to the challenging terrain, it soon becomes clear they are not alone and the freedom they feel quickly turns to fear. Only when it is too late for them to turn back do they fully appreciate the danger they are in. As their friendship is tested, each girl makes an irrevocable choice; the legacy of which haunts them for years to come.
Now in their forties, Samantha, Lisa and Nicole are estranged, but decide to revisit their original hike in an attempt to salvage what they lost. As geography and history collide, they are forced to come to terms with the differences that have grown between them and the true value of friendship.
Released on 2nd July 2018