AusRom Recommends: Meg Bignell’s ‘The Sparkle Pages’
- If you could interview anyone, past or present, who would it be and what would be your lead question?
I’d think I’d like to ask Freddy Mercury, Elton John, Bernie Taupin, Tracy Chapman, Paul Simon, Tim Minchin, Eddie Perfect, Kate Miller Heidke and Keir Nuttall if they could get together and chat. I don’t think I’d have to ask any questions.
- Your most played song/band?
Gosh, too many to list. Music is very important to me and I wish every day that I could lay claim to an ancient musical tradition and answer this question with ease. But I’m white Tasmanian so my music choices just sort of vary with my mood. Kate Miller-Heidke sang me through The Sparkle Pages. I’m obsessed with vocals, and hers are sublime. Her classical training just gives her a shimmer no one else has. She also writes musical theatre, another obsession of mine. She’s unafraid and clever and funny and she’s pretty much my best friend only she doesn’t know.
- Favourite genre of romance?
I love a good gothic romance, or something a bit ghostly without being silly about it. Jane Eyre has been my favourite book since I read it as a teenager. And I loved the foreboding of Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier.
- Favourite food?
My mum’s homemade pizza. And mulberries straight from the tree.
- Favourite drink?
Or anything fizzy.
- If you could have any superpower what would you choose?
Invisibility would be helpful for research. Also for getting work done without interruption. There’d be a lot of, “Where’s Mum?” though, which would be irritating.
- If you weren’t writing, what would you be doing?
I trained as a nurse, then worked in Emergency Departments for seven years and occasionally I miss being so essential. And uniformed. So perhaps I’d be back nursing part time, and for the rest of the time being more helpful on our dairy farm.
- Favourite quote?
“Out beyond the ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field, I’ll meet you there …” Rumi.
- Tell us something about yourself that most people wouldn’t know…
I play Cathy the butcher in ABC’s Rosehaven. She features for only about forty-five seconds over three seasons but I got to go to the read-throughs and sit next to one of the spunky farmer’s from McLeod’s Daughters.
- Most famous person you’ve ever met? Tell us about the meeting!
I met Julia Gillard when my children’s school burnt down in the Dunalley bushfire in 2013. She was a delight. Also because of the fire I met most of the Hawthorn AFL team, who kicked the footy with the children on the blackened oval. Neil Gaimon flew in too, with book donations. I got emotional and accidentally kissed him on the lips. It was awkward.
The Sparkle Pages
‘Is marriage just a series of texts about where the children are and whether we need milk until one of you dies?’
Susannah Parks – wife, mother, cleaner of surfaces and runner of household – is a viola virtuoso. Except she hasn’t picked up a viola for over a decade. She has, however, picked up a lot of Lego, socks, wet towels and other exhibits of mundanity. She has also picked up on the possibility that her husband has lost interest in her. (And frankly, she’s not very interested in Susannah Parks either.) But this year, she has resolved to be very interesting. Also thoughtful, useful, cheerful, relevant, self-sufficient, stylish, alluring and intelligent.
In her highly confidential diary, Susannah documents the search for the elusive spark in her marriage, along with all the high and low notes of life with her four beloved children, with her free-spirited (and world famous) best friend Ria, and with Hugh, the man who fills her heart with burning passion and her washing pile with shirts.
And perhaps amid the chaos she might be brave enough to find the missing pieces of herself.
WARNING: CONTAINS STRONG LANGUAGE, SEX SCENES AND FANTASIES ABOUT HUSBANDS UNPACKING THE DISHWASHER.