Olga Lorenzo has won the Felix Meyer Scholarship and the Percival Serle Bequest at the University of Melbourne for her writing, a Varuna Fellowship and grant from Arts Victoria and the Australia Council. She has taught writing in a variety of Melbourne tertiary institutions for almost 20 years and previously worked as a journalist and sub-editor. Now she is celebrating the release of her latest novel The Light on the Water and we were able to find out a little more about her in this interview.
Hi Olga, welcome to Beauty and Lace and thanks for talking with us.
What inspired you to become an author?
Like so many people, I escaped into reading as a child. I also loved writing and was encouraged by my mother and by a teacher I had in Grade 3 in the states, Miss Schemel.
Your new release is The Light on the Water, can you tell us a little about the book?
It’s about an ordinary mother whose life falls apart after she loses a disabled child on a walk in Wilson’s Promontory National Park in Victoria.
What inspired the story?
After a relationship breakup, I found some friends stayed loyal but some seemed to make judgments and take sides. I wondered what it would be like if you were grieving something terrible and people turned against you.
Is there anything in particular you hope readers take away from the book?
I think we need to be leaders in our families and communities in terms of encouraging people to not leap to judgments. We need to be more inclusive. And to not be passive bystanders to injustice. But mostly I hope it is an optimistic story – I hope readers are inspired by the idea that if we hang on through the tough times, life gets better.
Do you think The light on the Water is a true reflection on our society?
I think the sort of scenario I depict can happen; people expect an awful lot of mothers and can rush to judgments.
When you are not writing what do you do to relax and unwind?
I ride my bicycle, or run with my dog along the beach tracks. I love the surf. And of course I love to read.
You teach, have worked as a journalist and a sub-editor and you write, what has been your career highlight to date?
I loved working as a journalist; there was such an idealistic belief that we could make the world a better place. I have also loved working with very talented students in my teaching.
Are you working on anything new you can tell us about?
When I had one of my children in hospital, they brought me the wrong baby. I ended up with the right child but I wondered what it would be like to take the wrong child home. In my next book, the mother finds her true genetic child and has a relationship with the child’s father, who was single. But the lost daughter has been indulged by her father and has no ability for empathy – she’s a narcissist. She ends up breaking up the relationship between her parents.
Who do you love to read?
I like character-driven novels. Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge is a current favorite.
What was your favourite read of 2015?
Easily Sofia Laguna’s The Eye of the Sheep. A brilliant book.
Thanks for your time and good luck with the release of The Light on the Water.
I devour books, vampires and supernatural creatures are my genre of choice but over the past couple of years, I have broadened my horizons considerably. In a nutshell – I love to write! I love interacting with a diverse range of artists to bring you interviews. Perhaps we were perfect before – I LOVE WORDS!