One of the themes I was really interested in when writing Thyla was the conflict between the natural world and the man-made world. The Thylas and Sarcos are part of the natural world and represent the wildness of ancient Tasmania. They are animal, bestial and, if they don’t wear their cuffs, they are slaves to their wildest instincts and impulses. The Diemens, on the other hand, with their metal teeth and silver skin, represent the order and control that man brings to the environment while, simultaneously, stripping it of its freedom and beauty. And, you know, eating its heart.
All of that is pretty serious, I know. Don’t worry, this blog post isn’t going to turn into a treatise on man’s desire to control its environment and its subsequent degradation and suppression of the natural world … promise.
All of the above is just a kind of intellectual (as far as I go, anyway), introduction to the subject of this blog post, which is: What is the wildest thing that I have ever done?
See, I’m not a Diemen. I don’t do well with order and control and, when it comes to the environment I’m all about the country over the city. I love animals. I hate machines. I can’t work them. A former colleague once firmly believed I was some sort of technological witch because every machine I touched, well, died. That said, I’m not exactly the wildest of people, either. I’m a homebody. I’m pretty shy. I don’t like big crowds or late nights. I’m not all that adventurous. I prefer to live my fantastical journeys through my characters rather than conduct them myself.
So, what is the wildest thing I’ve ever done?
Well, there have actually been a few things. I climbed a volcano when I was thirteen. I studied drama when everyone told me to study something “safe” instead. I went vegetarian in a small town where meat pies are the hight of gourmet cuisine. Last year, I travelled around the UK in a campervan. I left my stable, sensible job to be a full-time writer.
But the wildest thing I ever did? I fell in love. I was twenty one when I met my husband. I had just come out of a relationship that started when I was sixteen. The boy had been my best friend, but I sort of felt, at the time, that I’d wasted my best “wild years” being in a steady relationship. So, I decided I’d have my wild time at twenty one. Six months after the breakup, I met Leigh. About a week after that, I fell in love with him. Six months after that, I proposed to him, in the market at Salamanca.
Okay, so it might not be bungee jumping naked, or swimming with sharks, or asking the Queen to dance with you to a Kanye West song, but …
It was brave. I think it’s always brave to let yourself love. And, in this era where many girls don’t get married at all, and those who do are often in their thirties, getting married at twenty three is kind of wild. Plus, the man I married was a tall, dark, dangerous metalhead (with a heart of gold), whereas I was a flighty, dreamy little flibbertigibbet country music fan. Trust me, a lot of people thought our partnership was pretty wild. Nowadays, I love metal music, he likes a couple of my country singers (okay, one – Josh Ritter) and, last year, we climbed up lots of high things together – not volcanoes, but churches, “tors” and hills with white horses on them. We marvelled at the natural world. We also paid our respects to the beautiful things that man has made.