The Writer's View: Fran Cusworth

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Fran will be awarding an eCopy of The Near Miss to 3 randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

The Writer's View
My writing space is a corner of the lounge room, in the house I share with my husband and two kids. It’s a total mess but it’s also a cosy nest of books, notes, folders and piles of junk. This is an old fashioned room with a fireplace and an old couch that belonged to my mum’s family, and there is no television. It’s where my kids come to curl up and read and escape the noisy end of the house.

The best bit about it is the window, which looks out onto the street and to my son’s primary school, particularly the oval and the ‘fairy forest’. For parts of the day these spaces are occupied by birds and the odd discarded jumper or lunch box, but during playtimes the children come roaring, screaming, running, skipping and bouncing balls out to run and climb over every surface. I love watching them, and trying to pick my son out of the crowd. Sometimes I see parents stopping and watching through the fence.

It sort of reflects my writing focus, which is on family dramas, the lives of women, children and small communities; the humour of the school gate and the craziness of trying to juggle careers, childraising and relationships. I think the full drama of life is right there in the everyday, in the trying to be a good person, or mother, or husband, while treasuring a dream and earning the money to stay alive. In my new novel The Near Miss, all my characters are juggling their dreams with the raising of kids, or the trying to pay a mortgage, or the business of getting married, and sometimes they are failing sensationally, in every way from losing marriages and houses, to running from the police. It’s the keeping of feet on the ground while having our fingertips up in the sky, trying to touch the stars … I think the challenge of doing both is when I feel I’m truly living.

Grace, hardworking and tired, wants another baby. But she's dealing with debt, a manic 4-year-old and a jobless husband determined to make his inventions into reality. Can they both get their way, or will competing dreams tear their marriage apart?

Eddy analyses risk for a living, but his insecurities have brought his own life to a halt. He won't let go of the flighty, unfaithful Romy, but will he ever risk believing in himself?

Melody is trying to raise her son Skip in the city while holding true to her hippie lifestyle. But will past mistakes and judgement from other parents force her to leave her beliefs behind?

This is a story about real life aspirations, and whether you can chase your dreams at the same time as raising children and paying the bills. It's about friendship, and how the people you meet in a moment can change your life forever.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Grace stood at the door of the waiting room and watched these three strangers, man, woman and child, and breathed a fresher air than the air she had left behind in the ward, where blue face masks and plastic tubing absorbed all the oxygen. Around them here, families gathered in little clumps, some staring at her with surly envy. They wanted in. Children wailed and coughed and grizzled. Grace went over to the man and woman.

‘She’s going to be okay,’ she told them. ‘She’s strained a ligament and bruised her foot.

But it’s relatively minor.’

‘Lucky,’ said the woman. She had extraordinary blue eyes.

‘Lucky you were there,’ said Grace steadily. ‘What’s your name?’

‘Melody. We just moved here last week. From up north.’

‘Where up north?’

‘A commune. Tuntable Falls. Have you heard of Nimbin?’

‘Of course,’ said Grace. Drop-out ’sixties scene, up in the rainforest mountains.

Explained the dreds. ‘I didn’t think there was anyone up there under sixty.’

‘Plenty,’ said Melody. ‘Their kids.’

‘You grew up there?’

‘No, here. Donvale. Most boring suburb in the world. Probably why I fled to Nimbin as soon as I could.’

Grace nodded. ‘Well, I for one am glad you came back! Hey, do you think you could both come for dinner one Saturday night? My husband Tom and I, and Lotte, we live just near the ice-cream shop. We would like to say thank you.’

The man beamed and looked absolutely delighted. ‘Can I bring my girlfriend?’

‘Of course.’ She looked at Melody. ‘Do you want to bring someone? Besides your son?’

‘Uh. Maybe.’

‘Is your car alright?’ It was the polite thing to ask, although Grace could not have cared less about the car. I do hope my child’s body didn’t dent your fender?

Eddy blushed. ‘It’s fine. We drove here in it, remember? From the scene of the crime.’

‘Oh, yes. Sorry.’

‘So to speak. Wasn’t really a crime.’ The man spoke hastily, as if sensing Grace’s burning guilt, and the two women turned as one to study him for a moment.

‘I’m so sorry,’ he said, his hand on his heart.

‘It wasn’t your fault,’ Grace said gloomily. It would have been nice to blame something other than her daughter’s lunacy, but in this case it was not possible. ‘She’s always been a runner. I’m just lucky you both have quick reflexes.’ She tore a corner from a magazine and wrote. ‘So here’s my address. I’ll see you.’

At her feet, the boy, who must have been Lotte’s age, shrieked and pointed. A tiny tin train peeled away from his feet and skittered across the floor merrily, over the linoleum, under seats and between feet, carving a straight line through the lives it passed. The hippy looked accusingly at the man.

‘You fixed it.’

He looked sheepishly proud, and crouched by the squealing, delighted child.


About the Author: Fran is a writer based in Melbourne, Australia. She worked as a newspaper journalist for twenty years, and recently had a midlife career crisis and retrained as a nurse. She won the Guy Morrison Prize for Literary Journalism in 2013. She is married with two children and she once lived in a commune, like Melody, and at another time she desperately wanted a second child, like Grace. Like Tom, she has pursued a few foolish dreams, and like Eddy, her courage has at times failed her. This is her fourth novel.

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Thanks for hosting!
Teresa Noel said…
Sounds like a great book, put it on my must read list.
Fran said…
Thanks Teresa, hope you enjoy it!
Anonymous said…
Thank you for the chance! I'm starting to love this book ♥♥♥
Rita said…
I enjoyed the excerpt, sounds like a good read.