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‘It’s a very touchy time, and there are regulations now about how a writer should deal with indigenous stories. I am actually facing this question in my next book, which is a historical novel which brings in some notions about Australia’s indigenous mix. But one does have to be very careful and make sure one has done all the proper consultations first. But it will still be a fantasy story for all that.’

Do you take a generally dystopian line when it comes to writing about the future?

‘I think things are pretty dicey for the human race at the moment. But I also feel that we will somehow get through. On the other hand, the prospect of one small planet destroying itself through bad management does not seem quite so terrible when you considered the immensity of the rest of the universe.’

You have said that you don’t like Young Adult books that take what you call a preachy tone. You also say that you prefer to write in a generally oblique way, forcing the reader to work a number of things out for themselves.

‘I like books that allow me to find my way towards the story and set the reader questions rather than always providing them with neat answers.’

Talking with Margo was a real pleasure. Reading her books is another. Sometimes unsettling in plot, they are always beautifully written by an author who used to write poetry. By any measure, her books are some of the most interesting and challenging in the contemporary field, with the promise of yet more to come. We are lucky to have her. n

enjoys your own life. Is there any sort of contradiction here?

‘Probably. But I can only write as it comes.’

You also seem fascinated by the idea of humans transforming into animals, with numbers of your short stories in your two collections now published over here, ‘White Time’ and ‘Red Spikes’, also often returning to this theme. What’s that all about?

‘Well, I love the way that animals are so unquestioning. They don’t wake up at 3 in the morning turning over their lives; they live without the constant self-questioning that humans tend to do. And wouldn’t it be lovely to be a seal? Lounging about in the sun and never feeling the cold? And for lady seals, there’s that bloke over there who hardly ever bothers you except perhaps once a year!’

Will you ever draw upon aborigine legends in your writing? I know there is a mood among some writers in Australia now against anything that hints at cultural appropriation where indigenous culture is concerned.

Books for Keeps No.191 November 2011 15

be lovely to be a seal? Lounging about in the sun and never feeling the cold?

‘ ’ Wouldn’t it

The Books All published by David Fickling Books Tender Morsels, 978 1 8499 2007 0, £7.99 pbk.

The Brides of Rollrock Island, 978 0 8575 6033 9, £12.99 hbk. White Time, 978 1 8499 2055 1, £6.99 pbk. Red Spikes, 978 0 3856 1322 4, £10.99 hbk.

Nick Tucker is honorary senior lecturer in Cultural and Community Studies at Sussex University.

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