About the author:
J.P. Pomare is an award-winning writer who has had work published in journals
including Meanjin, Kill Your Darlings, Takahe and Mascara Literary Review. He has hosted the On Writing podcast since 2015 featuring bestselling authors from around the globe. He was born in New Zealand and resides in Melbourne with his wife. Call Me Evie is his first novel.
Call Me Evie is an incredible literary thriller that has been compared to Gone Girl and The Girl on The Train. Can you tell us what it’s about?
Call Me Evie is about a young woman who emerges from a stupor in a cabin, in a country she’s never been with a man she’s not sure if she can trust. It’s difficult to tell you too much more without treading into spoiler territory, but I will say it’s full of twists and turns that hopefully you won’t see coming.
What inspired the idea behind the novel?
Setting for me always comes first and it tends to be the most important aspect of a novel for me when I’m reading so that’s where I began. I knew I wanted to write about Maketu, a small beach town near where I grew up in New Zealand so I had my setting. I loved Maketu because I spent so much time in my teen years out there and we had some chilling encounters with the locals there that made me think this would be the perfect place to hideout. I put Kate, a very Melbourne young woman in that setting and the story bloomed from there.
Call Me Evie is your debut novel. Can you tell us a bit about your writing journey?
I wrote a lot of terrible short stories for a long time. I also completed a year of study after securing a creative writing scholarship. Eventually I began to have bits and pieces published here and there. I had stories win or shortlisted for competitions and the biggest breakthrough came when I had a short story published in a leading Australian literary journal, Meanjin. I realised then that perhaps my writing wasn’t so bad after all. I continued to read with a notebook and pen in hand. Writing is an endless apprenticeship, this is something I learnt early on so I was, and still am, always trying to get better.
The novel deals heavily with concepts of memory and trust. Did you conduct any research when writing the novel to better understand Evie’s state of mind and her difficulty in differentiating truth from deception?
Absolutely. I knew I had to get Evie/Kate right so I worked closely with my wife Paige, along with other women in my life and my publishing team to really understand what she goes through in the book and how she would respond. The more psychological elements were also very heavily researched. I think part of the research was simply interrogating my memories and comparing my version of past events to others who were there. I realise this isn’t entirely scientific but it was a penny drop moment for me; the distance between my memories and that of my friends and family was enormous. I also studied psychology text books and worked closely with renowned Melbourne based clinical psychologist Marian Barton who has extensive experience helping people just like Kate. I frequently took my queries regarding memory and mental health issues to Marian who was very generous with her advice and insight.
What was your favourite book of 2018, and which book are you most looking forward to reading in 2019?
I haven’t settled on one favourite book from 2018 as it seems to change every day but if I could narrow it down to two I would have to say Tinman by Sarah Winman and Preservation by Jock Serong. I’m most looking forward to Christian White’s follow up to his huge debut novel The Nowhere Child.