Jane Rawson popped into the Rusty Bore Takeaway today for a burger and to chat about her book The Handbook: Surviving and Living with Climate Change.
Welcome to Rusty Bore, Jane. Sorry it’s so squashy in the shop, but climate change is a topic that most of Rusty Bore’s residents are worried about, so all 147 of them have come along to hear you talk… Anyway, what can I get you?
This looks like a classic takeaway, so I’m going with a classic order – a burger with the lot (including pineapple and egg, thanks).
We care a lot about cooking around here, especially, ahem, comfort food. Tell us about something you like to cook.
I really like baking, particularly when I need to focus on something other than all the stuff in my brain. New Orleans-style bread and butter pudding is a favourite, with a bit of bourbon tipped on top.
Mmm, bread and butter pudding and alcohol sounds like a combination worth killing for. Err, you’re safe here, Jane, perfectly safe… Just move that knife away from Vern, will you? Anyway, let’s move on. What would you have trouble leaving behind if you relocated to somewhere like Rusty Bore (population 147)?
Privacy, I reckon – everyone would know something about you.
Fair enough. Nosy questions are a specialty around here… and unasked-for advice. Speaking of which, I was once told by a man at a writing festival that I shouldn’t write crime novels because “it’s just not good for you, my dear.” Have you ever had any strange (or preferably, useful) advice about your writing?
I’ve heard it from a lot of sources but it’s always worth reminding myself – there’s no point waiting for inspiration, you just have to sit down and write.
What’s the best part of writing for you? What’s the hardest?
My fiction is mostly speculative fiction, and I love getting to the end of a chunk of writing and realising I’ve made up something that never, ever existed before; it’s completely new. (I also really love being part of a community of writers and talking with people about writing and books and ideas.) The worst is the fear and the shame – that everything is terrible, that nothing I write will ever be worth anything. I’m learning to deal with it, but it’s no fun.
Now, swallow that mouthful of burger quickly, and tell us about your book, The Handbook: Surviving and Living with Climate Change…
I co-wrote The Handbook with an old workmate of mine, James Whitmore – we were editors of the Environment and Energy section of The Conversation (theconversation.com), and he still is. We’d seen lots of books about the science of climate change, about the politics, and about how to change your life to reduce emissions. But we hadn’t seen much that grappled with the fact climate change is already here and getting worse and you need to start planning for its effects. So we decided we’d write that book. It’s mostly practical and partly political and philosophical, and we think it’s got something for most people, even those who aren’t even a bit worried about climate change.
Do you have any tips for a takeaway business in the post-climate change world?
Oh good question! Be flexible in what you have on the menu, so if it’s hard to get hold of something you can replace it with something else. And have your own source of power for the fridge and the fryer so you don’t have to worry if the grid goes down in fire or a storm.
What are you working on right now? Do you have a new book in progress now that The Handbook has hit the shelves?
I’m just about to get back into writing – I’ve been doing lots of promotional stuff for The Handbook and my other new fiction book, Formaldehyde, all of which has kept me from my desk. I’m keen to delve back into a historical fiction I’ve been writing and see whether it’s possible to execute a crazy idea I have to turn it into sci-fi.
Sounds intriguing! Thanks for calling in, Jane and all the best with your writing.
Here’s a little more about Jane:
Jane Rawson grew up in Canberra. During years as a travel editor and writer, mostly for Lonely Planet, she dawdled around the streets of San Francisco, Prague and Phnom Penh and left smitten. She has also worked as the Environment Editor for news website The Conversation. She likes cats, quiet, minimal capitalisation, and finding out that everything is going to be OK.
Jane’s novel, Wrong Turn at the Office of Unmade Lists, won the Small Press Network’s Most Underrated Book Award.