The Bit In Between
Ten Things You Didnt Know About Claire Varley
1. My ATM pin. You don’t know this and, fairly regularly, neither do I. Subsequently, I routinely have my card eaten by machines and have to do the financial walk-of-shame where you call the bank and have to explain why you continued entering all the four-digit combos in your brain until the machine became suspicious and locked you out.
2. I am scared of birds. To the point of tears. There is no logical or rational reason for this. To me, every bird is Poe’s raven.
3. My all-time favourite piece of writing ever is Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas. My birthday tradition is to curl up somewhere and read it aloud to myself, often in public, usually making myself cry at how perfectly brilliant, crisp and dense the prose is. I would be Nogood Boyo or Captain Cat.
4. The first book I ever wrote was called Aladdin and His Genie and The Lamp. I was in Grade 3 and the book spent many pages introducing each character (major and minor), summed up the plot in one pithy sentence, and then had them all live happily ever after. This attention to character at the expense of plot is something I have grappled with since.
5. I wrote The Bit In Between across three continents, including the 20 months I spent living in remote Solomon Islands. Flicking through the book I can pinpoint where I was when I wrote different sections, ie: ‘my papou’s village in Cyprus’, ‘locked out of my friend’s apartment in London’, ‘pretending to be Hemingway on the Andean Explorer’, and ‘my mother’s spare room imagining I am not broke and unemployed’.
6. My favourite foods are cheese and anything that started life as a potato. This is part of the reason why the Solomon Islands – home of the kumara, cassava and multiple varieties of yam – is my kindred spirit. Imagine a place where you can legitimately eat kumara three meals a day?! It is like the Wonka Land of starch.
7. I have noticeably small hands, just like Oliver in The Bit In Between. I have travelled fairly extensively and this has been frequently commented on across at least four continents. The most common translation being ‘why, you have the hands of a small child! Did you know this?’
8. My day job is working in community development… because I wanted to work in two industries that are notoriously difficult to pay the rent with. But both my jobs – writing and community development – are rewarding beyond anything a better pay packet could ever deliver. Not that I’d say no…
9. Basically my entire grounding in writing has come from a history of being a rampant child plagiarist. Apart from the Aladdin incident, one of the first poems I ever wrote was The Lion and The Unicorn reimagined as a fight between the bunny and the bilby for supremacy over Easter. Not long after I rewrote Dorothea Mackellar’s My Country, calling it My Home (subtle) and modernising it to present day Australia. I vaguely recall something about copycatting being a fundamental part of early development so maybe I was a child genius?
10. My appreciation of wine is similar to my approach to art: I don’t know what this is but I like it. Pinot grigio or pinot noir, please. Leave the bottle…