The story behind the writing of Invented Lives will be posted here shortly. Why this novel, and why now. (And for those who are wondering what happened to The Science of Departures, that served well as a working title through the years of writing, but I preferred Invented Lives once the novel was finished.)
It is the mid-1980s.
In Australia, stay-at-home wives jostle with want-it-all feminists, while AIDS threatens the sexual freedom of everyone. On the other side of the world the Soviet Block is in turmoil.
Gorbachev has been in power for a year when twenty-four-year-old book illustrator, Galina Kogan, leaves Leningrad – forbidden ever to return. As a Jew she’s inherited several generations worth of Russia’s chronic anti-Semitism. As a Soviet citizen she is unprepared for Australia and its easy-going ways.
Once settled in Melbourne, Galina is befriended by Sylvie and Leonard Morrow, and their adult son, Andrew. The Morrow marriage of thirty years balances on secrets. Leonard is a man with conflicted desires and passions, while Sylvie chafes against the confines of domestic life. Their son, Andrew, a successful mosaicist, is a deeply shy man. He is content with his life and work – until he finds himself increasingly drawn to Galina.
Invented Lives tells a story of exile: exile from country, exile at home and exile from one’s true self.
It is also a story about love – not that this was my original intention, but as the characters grew, so did the fictional possibilities. You write characters into existence. You give them faces and bodies, you give them pasts and present, you give them strengths and frailties, you give them desires and yearnings. Characters demand to be human. This is one of the great wonders of fiction.