I've mentioned before that it's one of the ironies of the writing life that by the time a new book appears in the shops, the writer has long since moved to the next project, or even the one after that.
For reasons beyond my control, I've been forced to interrupt the current WIP to think about the next cab off the rank. I had planned to try to write an adult (!) non-fiction (!!) book about Australia's relationship with Papua New Guinea, and I'd begun some general research (ie reading lots of books from the library). But gradually I started to wonder if this kind of book was what I really wanted to write. I don't know if I have the mental rigour and discipline for non-fiction. And it's a massive topic. Could I do it justice? What would my angle be?
Finally, like a snowfall settling on my shoulders, a decision drifted down: I would write a novel.
Instant relief. I can still explore the same issues that I find so fascinating - independence and colonialism, childhood and maturity, love and passion, the wild freedom of PNG, its violent beauty, the fraught relationship between the colonised and the colonisers, hyprocrisy, racism, dependence. What are the limits of love for a country that doesn't belong to you? What is the greater responsibility of a parent - to protect or to let go?
I can ask all the questions I want to ask, but in fiction I can ask them sideways. And I don't need to come up with all the answers.