Amanda Lohrey, author of Camille’s Bread, Vertigo and Reading Madame Bovary will be launching Claire Corbett’s book When We Have Wings at the Carrington Hotel on Saturday 16th July. The book has been described as “a beautifully written and gripping, original novel of mothering, sacrifice, betrayal and love.”
Here Claire talks about the journey that led to her book being published:
When We Have Wings has taken me ten years to write. The novel began with a short piece published in RePublica (Angus and Robertson), Issue 4 in 1996.
One spark of inspiration for this short piece, and therefore the novel, came from time I spent in the Louvre Museum while living in Paris. I became fascinated by paintings, sculptures and mosaics of winged animals from all cultures, and the idea that humans think almost any creature is improved by adding wings. When I recalled my favourite dreams as a child were those of flying, I began to suspect that virtually everyone has had such dreams and secretly desires to know how it feels to fly.
When this was broadcast on Radio National it sparked such a reaction, especially letters, that I thought ‘I should do something more with this.’ Gradually the idea for a novel came to me but I didn’t even begin writing it until 2000, around the time my first baby turned one. At that time I had a mentorship with Amanda Lohrey at Varuna for my first novel but I set that book aside and started writing the first draft of When We Have Wings. Amanda Lohrey has been incredibly encouraging throughout the long process of drafting and redrafting the novel; never letting me lose faith in the project, though there were times, especially when I had my second child, where I stopped writing for several years at a stretch.
Although When We Have Wings is set slightly in the future in an unnamed country and city, Australian readers will recognise a futuristic Sydney, a city more integrated into Asian cultures even than it is now. The wild sections of the novel are a tribute to the rugged beauty of the Australian wilderness and living in the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains has been an inspiration, particularly its magnificent birdlife: gang gang cockatoos, sulphur-crested cockatoos, black cockatoos, king parrots, crimson rosellas, honeyeaters, wedgetail eagles, kookaburras of course and even channel-billed cuckoos.
The book will be launched from 4-6pm Saturday 16th July at the Carrington Hotel in Katoomba, with a glass of sparkling, a slice of cake and live music. Dress: wings optional. RSVP to Claire by 6th July: email@example.com
About When We Have Wings:
In a world divided into fliers and non-fliers, how far would you go to be able to fly? How much would you sacrifice? A beautifully written and gripping, original novel of mothering, sacrifice, betrayal and love.
‘She had never seen the sky in all her life before. How high could she fly? What was the limit? She was already so high the earth was no longer real. Only her in the sky. Every spiral pure joy. This was Flight. It was for this she’d risked and endured so much. It had to be worth it.’
Claire Corbett has created a vivid world where only the rich and powerful can afford the surgery, drugs and gene manipulation to have their own wings. They are the fliers, an elite who are free to explore the soaring city heights where non-fliers dare not tread. Peri, a poor girl from the regions, will sacrifice anything to get her wings and join this elite but the price is higher than she could have imagined. So why then does she throw it all away?
Feel the exhilaration and terror of flight – over vertiginous skyscrapers, into wild storms and across hypnotic wilderness – in this beautiful and daringly imaginative novel that explores the limits of self-transformation. It’s an enthralling experience, highly visual and sensual, political, philosophical and thought-provoking about the powers we now have to direct our own evolution and design our perfect selves.
About Claire Corbett:
I was born in Vancouver and spent the most joyful part of my childhood in the Rocky Mountains, envying golden eagles as they launched themselves from cliffs to soar high above the peaks. I was moved to Australia as a child on a nine-month journey that took me across Europe and Asia, including Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Nepal.
While studying Communications at the University of Technology, Sydney, I started crewing on feature films. After living for six months post-graduation in Paris, where I worked as an artists’ model, I returned to Sydney. After teaching Communications at UTS and completing my MA Writing, I joined The Cabinet Office, which provided advice to the then Premier, Bob Carr. I then worked at the Environment Protection Authority before moving to NSW Health. My work as a policy adviser on the environment, genetically modified organisms and child and family health policy contributes to the knowledge and passion I’ve brought to researching and writing When We Have Wings.