You are based in Brisbane, while this story is set in Christchurch. Is your relationship with New Zealand similarly cold and brief?
Thankfully not! Although it was pretty cold. When I was in highschool, my dad worked in New Zealand, so I travelled over a few times to stay with him, and Christchurch is a city that’s always stuck with me. In a lot of ways, it feels quite European, and I liked that idea of taking those lost existential moments often reserved for European films and books and transporting it to our hemisphere.
I really love your story and I have found myself loving it even more in the re-reading of it. Have you had a similar experience with any particular story or book?
Thank you! There are certainly books and stories I can read over and over again, but I’m actually not that much of a re-reader. The ones I do are really books from my childhood – Harry Potter, His Dark Materials, The Wind Singer, Looking for Alibrandi. Those are books that really stuck with me and that I love more and more as I read them. That said, there are only so many hours in the day, and I’d generally rather read something new!
So, I found you on twitter (@SophieOverett) and you tweeted that resting nice face has the same consequences as resting bitch face. (I’m assuming people are always approaching you on the street when you’re just trying to go about your business?) What does it mean to you to be a ‘resting nice face’ female writer?
It certainly makes me approachable! I can’t be too mad about it as it has introduced me to a lot of wonderful people and it does tend to invite conversation – both good and bad, but it can lead to certain preconceptions.
The image of the ‘Serious Literary Writer’ for a long time has been stern-faced, middle-aged white men, and it’s only recently started to shift with terrific authors like Zadie Smith, Marlon James, Isabel Allende, Junot Diaz and Laura van den Berg getting the recognition they so rightfully deserve. While I certainly don’t consider myself anywhere close to their league writing-wise, and I have to acknowledge my own privilege as a young white woman, my age, nice face problem and height (I’m not very tall!), can lead to the preconception that I write a certain way. I’ve had more than one male writer tell me that I must write chick lit (not that there’s anything wrong with chick lit) without ever having read a word of my writing. I think those preconceptions are tied up with a few things – sexism in the writing industry being the big one, but resting nice face doesn’t help either.
Sophie’s story ‘Christchurch’ can be found here in The Suburban Review Vol. 6!