A Tale of Two Authors

Christos Tsiolkas is a famous Melbourne writer, who has just published his latest novel, The Slap, to wide and deserved acclaim. He lives in the same suburb as I do; we use the same library, we shop at the same market.

As it happens, Christos and I knew each other years ago, before we were writers — published writers, anyway. We had friends in common, and again we lived in the same suburb (a different suburb in those days). We went to the same parties. I even had a cameo in Christos' book Jump Cuts. Well, to be strictly accurate, my house and a CD I'd lent him made a cameo appearance; I wasn't home.

Christos and I could hardly be more different. I tend to be anti-social, shy, solitary, melancholy. At the parties we went to, I was the one standing in the corner brooding, while everyone else had fun. Christos lives large. He loves people; he is passionate, engaged, generous, and wonderful company. At those parties, he would have been dancing wildly, or engaged in passionate debate with a huge crowd of people.

The books we write could hardly be more different, either. One of us writes very dark, adult books that seethe with rage and darkness, that expose the brutality and violence of the human spirit. The other writes books for kids that emphasise hope, compassion and co-operation, books about magic and friendship and love.

But guess what? It's Christos who writes the dark, disturbing books, and I'm the one responsible for the magic stories with the hopeful endings. I draw no conclusions from all this, except to say that the world is a funny (and quite small) place, and people are stranger than you can imagine.