The Opposite Drive-by: Narrelle Harris

The Opposite of Life by Narrelle M. Harris had Charlaine Harris (that’s Sookie’s mum) breathless. A vampire novel that does something new and is set in Melbourne, the novel was a huge achievement for the author and Pulp Fiction Press.

Narrelle’s first novel was the crime/thriller, Fly By Night (2004), which was nominated for a Ned Kelly Award. Her novel Witch Honour was short-listed for the George Turner Prize for Science Fiction and Fantasy and its sequel was short listed for the same award the following year, was published in 2007.

At the end of October, Showtime, Narrelle’s contribution to the Twelve Planets series (TPP), should be out, and the sequel to The Opposite of Life, called Walking Shadows, should be out in December this year (again via Pulp Fiction Press).

1. You get to go anywhere and anywhen – where and when do you go and who is your sidekick? What do you do?
My husband Tim RIchards is always my sidekick, except when I’m his, especially when we’re travelling. LIke the Goodies, we go Anywhere, Anytime. We’d definitely both like to go hang around in Ancient Egypt for a while. We used to live in Egypt(the modern one).

2. When did you realise you were a writer?
I’ve written ever since I knew how to form the letters, and wrote to amuse myself all through my childhood. I think, though, it finally crystallised that I could do this for a living when I was working as a bank teller. I didn’t like it much, but was lamenting to my very understanding boss “But I don’t know what I want to do!” She replied: “Of course you know. You want to write for a living.” For some reason, it had never really occurred to me that it could actually be a job. So I took all the courage I had and applied for writing jobs – and got one! So now I’m a corporate writer for my day job, and a writer of novels, short stories, non-fiction and whatever else takes my fancy.

3. The inspiration for The Opposite of Life came from …
A combination of things, but the story I tell people is that I saw the film Underworld, the one with Kate Beckinsall, and thought how tired I was of seeing vampires as slender and sexy. If vampires were real, I thought, and I got turned into one, I’d just be a fat chick with fangs. This concept led to the creation of Gary: a short, chubby, socially awkward vampire who lived in the suburbs and didn’t know how to talk to girls (or anyone, really).

This train of thought combined with other notions about how vampires were presented in a lot of contemporary films and tv shows. Those vampires could still eat, drink, have sex, learn things and so on, and given that in a secular world (and that I am an atheist) people aren’t necessarily swayed by the threat of damnation—well, why wouldn’t everyone choose to be undead? There didn’t seem to be much of a downside. So I wanted to explore why a person might choose life, despite the pain it can bring, rather than eternity; and whether eternity was all it was cracked up to be. Other ideas and themes come into it, but those were the first few ideas that came together to create the book. 

4. If I wasn’t a writer, I would …
Be an actress, maybe. I enjoy public speaking and I’m enough of an extrovert. But mostly I couldn’t imagine being anything other than a writer and be at all happy. I was miserable as a bank teller, I was miserable as a public servant. I was slightly less miserable teaching English as a Foreign Language. But my worst day as a writer is still a million times better than my best day as a customer service officer.

5. Donuts or danishes?
Donuts. Hot cinnamon donuts with a good, strong cup of coffee.

She lives here and here.

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