About the author:
Anna Snoekstra was born in Canberra, Australia in 1988. She studied Creative Writing and Cinema at The University of Melbourne, followed by Screenwriting at RMIT University. Her first novel, Only Daughter, was released in 2016, and is currently in the works to be turned into a feature film with Universal Pictures. Her second, the acclaimed Little Secrets, was released in 2017. Her first novel for Young Adults, the bestselling Mercy Point, is out now. Anna She currently lives in Melbourne with her husband and tabby cat.
The concept for The Spite Game is very unique and intriguing. How did you come up with the idea behind the book?
I was fascinated with the idea that you can let one event completely define your life. When someone wrongs you, it can be so tempting to want to even the score. Most people are rational enough to realise that this won’t do any good. I wanted to see what would happen if you gave in to this urge.
In the story, Ava is a character hell-bent on revenge – what was it like writing a story from the perspective of someone so consumed by vengeance?
So much fun! I have quite an obsessive personality, something which I always have to consciously work on reigning in. In The Spite Game, I got to do the opposite. It gave me an excuse to see what it would be like to let your goal completely define you. To live for a single purpose and not even try and have any sort of balance in your life.
The idea of revenge is an interesting concept, because it poses both ethical and moral questions: namely – do two wrongs make a right? What is your personal take on revenge?
I used to think there was a sort of glory in being a vigilante, in doing whatever you have to make something right. I loved watching old Westerns, where the search for revenge was clear cut and black and white.
Now, I often think about the idea that people are always the hero of their own stories. You only know your own version of events, which makes revenge a very dangerous pursuit, as we are all prejudiced by our life experiences. You’ve only ever got a small part of the story.
In the book Ava is seeking revenge on different people who she has encountered at different stages of her life. This means there are multiple stories/timelines woven throughout the piece. Why did you choose to write The Spite Game this way?
The Spite Game begins with Ava sitting in a police interview room preparing to confess. She is sorting through the last decade of her life in her mind, trying to find a coherent way to give her statement.
I was fascinated by the concept of memory, and how we tell our own stories. Memory is not linear. We sort our experiences into narratives. It’s a natural way of making sense of our chaotic existence. It would have felt really unnatural to tell the story in any other way.
There is certainly a trope of the ‘angry, vengeful woman’ in a lot of commercial fiction nowadays, but Ava certainly doesn’t fit this stereotype. Were you very conscious of how you were portraying Ava when you were writing the book?
Yes. I was very aware of that stereotype, and it was the last thing I wanted to invoke. That being said, there are so many negative tropes out there around women who take action. I wasn’t going to let myself be stifled by them. I believe the best way we can combat these stereotypes is to write characters we believe to be important without fear, and in the most genuine and honest way we can.
What do you want people to take away from this book?
I want to provide an insight into what it might be like to actually achieve the catastrophic revenge you’ve dreamed of.
And finally – what was the last book you read that really blew you away?
Beautiful Revolutionary by Laura Elizabeth Woollett. It’s a fictional character’s experience of Jonestown by a young Australian writer. The amount of research that has gone into it is absolutely phenomenal! Plus, it’s beautifully written.