Author Chloe Wilson, whose story 'The Drydown' appears in the upcoming Margaret River Press anthology Shibboleth and other stories, writes stores that you can see, hear, taste and smell. It was therefore imperative that we spoke with her, and got a peak into her sensory world...
What are you reading?
I have a library copy of Death, Dissection and the Destitute by Ruth Richardson which I’ve been holding onto for so long that I’ve exceeded the maximum allowable number of renewals (which is ten). It’s a history of the introduction of the Anatomy Act in 1832, which means it’s largely about grave robbing and the study of anatomy. It also contains many wonderful anecdotes about my favourite Victorian-era curmudgeon, Thomas Wakley.
Other than that, I’ve been revisiting the stories of Shirley Jackson, whose wholehearted ghoulishness I’ve long admired, and have recently begun reading The Suspicions of Mr Whicher by Kate Summerscale, a non-fiction account of a high-profile murder investigation which occurred in the middle of the nineteenth century.
What are you listening to?
It depends on where I am. If I’m working or driving or dithering, it will be something respectable. But when I’m running, it’s a whole other story - my taste in music could then be described as an all-out teen dance party megamix. The cheesier the better. If it were possible to wear out downloads, I would have worn out my copy of 1989 a long time ago.
What are you watching?
I recently discovered this bizarre show called ‘Come Dine With Me’. Essentially, it’s about English people hosting competitive dinner parties where strange things happen. I might have the premise of the show wrong there, but in one episode I saw, a man said something like ‘Well, Barbara isn’t the type of woman I would typically invite to dinner, because she’s a backstabber’, and then fed his whippet some giblets under the table. I’m reasonably sure everyone was drunk. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
What scents surround you?
There’s nothing I enjoy more than spritzing myself liberally with perfume testers - this was probably what I drew on when writing ‘The Drydown’. I love a huge white floral: tuberose, gardenia, jasmine, orange blossom. Then again, I also love the smell of everyday things: nutmeg, dry cleaning, tomato leaves, furniture polish, fresh bread.
What have you got a taste for?
There is this magical stuff called ‘Oro Verde’ - now that I’ve found it, I can’t believe I ever lived without it. It’s the pistachio equivalent of nutella. It looks like creamed pond-water, but I choose to ignore that, because every jar is a nutty green pot of heaven. I think you’re supposed to spread it on things, but I’ve just been eating it with a spoon.
Chloe Wilson is the author of two poetry collections, The Mermaid Problem and Not Fox Nor Axe, which was shortlisted for the 2016 Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry. She has been awarded the John Marsden Prize for Young Australian Writers, the (Melbourne) Lord Mayor´s Creative Writing Award for Poetry, the Gwen Harwood Poetry Prize, the Fish Publishing Flash Fiction Prize and the Arts Queensland Val Vallis Award. She lives in Melbourne.