Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Spotted: Lesley Hauge + Nomansland

I'm fortunate to be given the chance to interview Lesley Hauge, the debut author of Nomansland - a novel that I loved. You can find my review here. I present the very interesting interview:

How long have you been writing?

I have worked as a journalist most of my adult life but wrote unpublished fiction on and off for at least 15 years before I got NOMANSLAND published.

Why did you choose to write for teens?

The idea I had, inspired by the paragraph from THE CHRYSALIDS (which serves as an epigraph to the book) seemed to come alive if told from the perspective of a young teenaged girl.

What did you want to let your readers to pick up from Nomansland?

I would love for my readers to think about the complexities of feminism. On the one hand, there is the grim, man-hating version that puts most women off and then there is the more confusing you-can-have-your-cake-and-eat-it modern version: i.e. you can wear short skirts, push-up bras and heels and STILL be taken seriously ... well I'm not so sure, and yet I don't want a colorless, joyless world of drab clothes and no makeup either! There is some tricky navigating for young women to do when it comes to deciding how they want to present themselves and how they want to be perceived -- and they are so judged! I want my readers to think about the ways in which female oppression is still deeply embedded in our culture (like the Pandora myth and the story of Eve in the Garden of Eden), and how the freedoms we have won, the sexual freedoms, the freedom to work and earn money, we have won have been, to some extent, co-opted by the advertising and our consumerist way of life. They convey the idea that girls and young women are primarily valued for their sexuality, not their intelligence, their competence, their humor or just their very humanity. Sexiness and buying stuff is peddled to us as "girl power" but in fact, it is a return to the old stereotyped ideas of women as little more than decorative objects good for sex and not much more. Furthermore the images in advertising and celebrity pictures are deeply narcissistic, "look-at-me" and yet they are so passive. The objects, the Barbie dolls and the magazines that the girls find in the hidden house are meant to represent this aspect of our culture for Keller, who is not as entranced by them as the other girls. This skepticism makes her skeptical of her society as a whole, and she starts to question the unbending, and ultimately hypocritical world in which she lives. I thought by setting my novel in a dystopia, these ideas might be presented in a new and interesting way.

What or who inspired you to start writing Nomansland?

Definitely the paragraph from THE CHRYSALIDS by John Wyndham and also my own experiences at my very strict colonial all-girls, all-female staff school.

They were obsessed with controlling our appearance, and, I suppose, our sexuality, and yet they allowed this horrible annual beauty contest that made princesses of a few girls and ugly sisters of the rest of us.

If you were a character in Nomansland, who would you be?

I'm more Keller than Laing, but I would like to be Smith -- she has some serenity.

In three words, describe what writing Nomansland was like.

Writing is hard.

Foundland is an isolated but beautiful place. How did you come to build this?

I spent many years living in Norway and wanted to write about a place that was bleak and snowy yet beatiful.

If you could change one thing about our society, what would it be?

I would like people to sit still more and do nothing except think.

What is your message to all the females out there?

Always make sure you earn your own money. Men are great, but don't base your life on them.

Thank you Lesley!

Book description via Goodreads:

Sometime in the future, a lonely, windswept island is populated solely by women. Among these women is a group of teenaged Trackers—expert equestrians and archers—whose job is to protect their shores from the enemy. The enemy, they’ve been told, is men. When these girls come upon a partially buried home from the distant past, they are fascinated by the strange objects—high-heeled shoes, teen magazines, make-up—found there. What are they to make of these mysterious things? And what does it mean for their strict society where friendship is forbidden and rules must be obeyed—at all costs?

Available now. Grab a copy!


  1. Fascinating interview! I have to read that book. :)

  2. Sounds like an amazing book! Great interview!

    Jump on by my blog when you have a chance. I awarding you with... well, an award!!!