Of Things Gone Astray by Janina Matthewson is a magical fable about modern life and values that's perfect for fans of Andrew Kaufman and Helen Oyeyemi. Simon Van Booy, bestselling author of The Illusion of Separateness, calls it "a brilliant novel that redefines the boundaries of where our lives begin and where they end." Janina has stopped by to share some background behind the book and the inspiration for her first full-length novel.
When the earthquakes hit Christchurch it felt like nothing would ever be the same. And of course it isn’t the same—the city’s still chaotic, there will be constant road works for years to come, and the city center is eerily empty. But the people in it are just carrying on. Because that’s what you do. In the aftermath, it seemed to me that when extraordinary things happen to you, they can stall you, or they can motivate you, but they very rarely actually change you.
So I think that’s what was behind my writing this book. I was interested in how, in the short term we’re so easily upset, so easily knocked off course, and how quickly we can recalibrate afterwards. There’s a kind of dexterity to it, I think, how we step around things that fall in our path to simply carry on with our lives.
And I wonder sometimes if a reminder that we can do that is all we need to enable us to do it. We get stuck because we think life is too much, that whatever has happened to us will leave us foundering forever. I think telling ourselves that we can get through is instrumental in us actually managing too—not in a gritty, determined way, necessarily, but just with gentle repetition. Getting up every day and deciding again to live with the new situation.
Books have always helped me to do this; they make you feel connected when you are at your most alone. And I’ve always gravitated to the ones that also make me feel like the world is full of secrets and magic. Susannah Clarke, Andrew Kaufman, Neil Gaiman—people who write about our world, but stranger. Because the world is strange.
That’s why I like it.
Thanks Janina! If you've already read and loved Of Things Gone Astray, share your thoughts today on social media with the hashtag #IndieGoneAstray. If you haven't had a chance to check out this highly imaginative debut yet, you can still grab an egalley from Edelweiss now!