Interview by Tansy Rayner Roberts.
Charlotte Nash is an Australian writer with degrees in engineering and medicine. Her short stories have been nominated for the Aurealis and Ditmar awards, and have been published in Every Day Fiction, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, Dimension6, Dreaming of Djinn, Use Only as Directed, and Phantazein. In addition, she is a best-selling author of rural medical romance novels, most recently The Horseman. She confesses a special love for motorbikes, heavy machinery and mock cream donuts, and isn’t sure which is more dangerous. charlottenash.net
The Horseman is the latest of your contemporary rural romance novels, and you just had a big release month! Tell us about your book, and why it’s striking such a chord with readers around Australia.
Peta Woodward, a Melbourne emergency doctor is injured on a cathartic solo trek through the High Country, and is most reluctantly rescued by a local horseman, Craig Munroe. While Peta heals, she becomes involved in his small hometown, which is in the grip of a crime spree, and the dramas surrounding the return of Craig’s nemesis who wants to be the next parliamentary member for the area. The story follows Peta and Craig’s romance, unlikely friendships, the catching of the theives and a new era for the town.
Without speaking directly for readers, the feedback I have had is that readers connect with the High Country setting, the themes of natural horsemanship and the life-and-death drama through the story. For me, the story comes from a place deeply connected to my horse-filled childhood, where the horses meant more to me than people. Perhaps that shows somehow! I also think that the High Country itself resonates with many readers because narratives like The Man From Snowy River and The Silver Brumby are so in the public conscience.
Meanwhile, your SF interests are currently directed into a creative writing PhD. Given your interest in a variety of genres, what was it about SF that made you choose it for this project, and what’s exciting you right now about your PhD-in-progress?
SF is my native genre. I had a particular project in mind for the PhD (a time-travel story with alternate history, Edison vs Tesla, and a die-hard style building lock-down). I also wanted to study craft techniques in some of my favourite sci-fi thrillers for the exegetical component, so the choice was easy. SF gives you the ultimate flexibility to play with the real world, to blend it and reshape it, and make metaphors and references and be unapologetic. Right now I’m most excited by being able to write action taking place in an altered Victorian setting, and pulling apart works by Michael Crichton, Neal Stephenson and Andy Weir as to how they handle their technical world-building. It’s really challenging, but I’m determined to come out the other side a better writer and with a good story.
During the last Snapshot you mentioned that you were working on an agricultural cyberpunk novel, about the future of food! Did you finish writing the manuscript, and what’s happening with it now?
I did! Its working title is Coderunner and it’s currently a draft needing an edit. I loved writing it, but unfortunately progress is taking a back seat to other projects at the moment. I will be coming back to it though.
What Australian work have you loved recently?
With a young child and a lot of PhD reading to get through, I’ve been doing most of my reading on Audiobook and SF short story podcasts. The Wife’s Tale by Christine Wells is the most recent Australian work I’ve “read” this way. Funny, tragic and engrossing. Angela Slatter’s Vigil is next on my physical TBR pile – I’ve only made it in a few chapters but it’s as great as you’d expect from Angela.
Which author (living or dead) would you most like to sit next to on a long plane trip and why?