Olga Lorenzo wanted her second novel to be a story that was both harrowing and had moments of lightness and humour.
Lorenzo’s first novel, The Rooms in My Mother’s House, published in 1996, was short-listed for the Australian Vogel Prize and the NSW Premier’s Ethnic Affairs Award, and was also highly commended in the Vance Palmer Prize for Fiction.
Two decades, two children and an academic career later, and her highly anticipated second novel The Light on the Water is being published by Allen & Unwin.
The inspiration came for Lorenzo with a real-life relationship breakup, which made her wonder what it would be like if society in general turned against you during a bad experience.
“If you were grieving for a lost child, which to me is about as bad as it could get, and people thought the worst of you, thought you were responsible for the child’s loss ...”
That is what happens in my novel, to Anne Baxter,” she said.
Anne is charged with her daughter's murder, stalked by the media and shunned by friends, former colleagues and neighbours.
The Light on the Water is an exploration of the demands we put on women and mothers, of social stigma and our need for others, and of the media and the good and harm it can do.
Lorenzo says she has been fortunate to teach novel and fiction writing in RMIT’s Professional Writing and Editing program since 1997.
“I often teach from two masters of story: Robert McKee and Michael Hauge, both of whom have analysed the conventions of story – the factors that make a story successful and appealing.”
“I must have learnt something from all those years of teaching! Almost everyone who has read The Light on the Water has said they weren’t able to put it down, which is very gratifying,” she said.
Lorenzo is very pleased that the Herald Sun nominated The Light on the Water as one of three books that would be making headlines in 2016, and the Women’s Weekly picked it as their “Great Read” for March.
Story: Wendy Little