Q&A with Annabel Crabb, author of The Wife Drought, shortlisted for the 2015 ABIA General Non-Fiction Book of the Year
How did the idea to write your book originate?
The idea to write The Wife Drought came to me one Sunday when I was having breakfast by myself after speaking at a conference in Queensland. I had just published, that day, a Sunday column arguing that there would be more women in politics if they got the same kind of wives as the men have historically been fortunate enough to score. I had such a volume of correspondence in response to that column, even by breakfast time, that I decided to write a book about it. It may have been the invigorating effect of the feedback. Or perhaps it was the rare thrill of a croissant that was mine alone. Either way, that’s exactly where it started.
What’s your favourite thing about being a published author?
I love the opportunity it provides for the strangest conversations with people. Soon after the book came out, I had a fabulous exchange on Twitter with a new Dad in which I coached him in the art of jellying breast milk. That was weird. But in a good way, I think. Seriously, the best thing for me with this book is that I’ve had a really strong response from men who have read it. Women I was expecting. But I love that men are getting into it.
What are some of the things you love about Australian bookstores?
I love the staff most of all. Across all the retail outlets that exist in Australia, selling everything from widgets to G-strings, you would be hard-pressed to find an employee group more excited about their wares than the bookshop crowd. I love that. I love the staff picks. The podcast I heard where Emily Harms and Chris Gordon of Readings discussed my book was one of the most helpful reviews I’ve encountered.
What’s the most recent Australian book that you read and loved?
Steve Toltz, A Fraction Of The Whole. I know I’m slow to that one – I think I was having a baby and thus knee-deep in a box set of The Wire or something when it came out, but Leigh Sales gave it to me for Christmas and I was electrified. His new book, Quicksand, is firmly on my list too. This House Of Grief, too.
If you could meet any Australian author, dead or alive, who would you like to meet?
I think Helen Garner is my dream lunch date. Her writing has been such a big part of my life – her fiction, her criticism, her non-fiction. I love the way she doesn’t shirk the hard stuff. Her latest book, This House Of Grief (alongside which mine is shortlisted, a development that makes me die with joy) is a classic example of that.
What Australian book had the biggest impact on you as a child?
I read a lot of Australian authors… Colin Thiele, May Gibbs, Ethel Turner, Ruth Park – but I think the most influential books were the ones by Frank Moorhouse I started reading in my teens. His short stories, set in Australian country towns like the one where I grew up, really captured me and taught me about good writing.
After readers have finished reading your book, which Australian book would you recommend they read next?
This House Of Grief by Helen Garner.