Emily Maguire divides her time between teaching English and writing. Her articles on sex, religion, culture and literature have been published in newspapers and magazines that include The Observer, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Financial Review. Her first novel, Taming the Beast, has been translated into ten languages.
Emily Maguire spoke about some of the things that motivate her as a writer.
When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?
I've always written, but I decided I'd try to make a career of it only after working in crushingly boring office jobs for a number of years.
What would you say are your main concerns as a writer?
I'm interested in challenging people's moral assumptions. Most people absorb certain ideas as children and never question or investigate them, so we have a society filled with adults whose ideas about sex, religion and moral responsibility remain at seventh grade level.
I'm influenced by writers who manage to write about deeply serious subjects without becoming preachy or overly-somber. Graham Greene, Nadine Gordimer, A.L. Kennedy and Mary Gaitskill have all been important to my development as a writer.
What are the biggest challenges that you face?
It can be hard to go to really dark places in my writing sometimes. I was raised to be nice and pleasant and make everybody feel comfortable; it can be very difficult to ignore that upbringing.
I'm learning that I can't control people's reactions and if I try to, I will never write anything interesting.
I've accepted that some people are going to think I am my characters, no matter how much I deny this. And some who believe that I am not my characters will consider me a corrupt and possibly dangerous human being for having invented this stuff.
What is your novel about?
Taming the Beast tells the story of Sarah Clark, a clever but damaged young woman who is drawn into a violent love affair with the teacher who abused her as a teenager.