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Sweet on Books Interview
with Elsbeth Edgar, author of the The Visconti House

Where did you get the idea for The Visconti House?

When I was growing up there was a grand old house near a park where we used to play and I was told that it had been built by a wealthy man for a woman who never came to live there. The idea stayed in my imagination. Many years later I came across a beautiful but deserted house in a small country town. It was quite different from all the houses around it and I began wondering how it came to be built there. The two buildings eventually merged into Mr Visconti’s house.

Were any of the characters inspired by real people?

Not really, although I am sure that some of my two daughters’ characteristics crept into Laura. I remember feeling ‘different’ as a child and I think that experience also found its way into Laura.

There was little mention of modern technology like cell phones and texting – was there any reason for that? Are those things less prevalent in Australia?

Cell phones are extremely prevalent in Australia but I wanted the story to have a timeless feel. Technology changes so rapidly that references to technological devices often seem outdated very quickly.

Do you think that the bullying faced by kids in Australia is similar to what kids experience in other countries around the world?

I think that there are kids in all cultures who are picked on or excluded and that the pain they experience is probably very similar. I am sure that bullying is something that kids all around the world can identify with.

Can you tell us about your next book? Will you write more about Leon and Laura?

I am not planning to write more about Laura and Leon at the moment. My next book, coming out in Australia in August, is about a young girl who has to move to a country town with her father while her mother remains in the city with their new baby. The girl is very unhappy about the changes taking place in her life but she forms a friendship with a reclusive elderly woman and another student at her school and gradually comes to terms with having a new sister and a new home.

What made you want to be a writer?

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t tell stories to myself. So many of the books that I loved as a child - L.M.Montgomery’s novels in particular - had young heroines who wanted to be writers and they fed my desire to write. It wasn’t until I had children, however, that I seriously started to put my stories on paper. My most golden reading time was my early teens and that was the age group I found I really wanted to write for.

How do you get your ideas? Do you do research?

My stories always start with my characters. I am not sure where those characters come from but once they have arrived in my imagination, I spend time just getting to know them before I begin working on my plot. I don’t do a lot of research but I like to check my facts. For example, in my next story, the old woman’s garden was planted by a botanist and I did some research to make sure that the plants I mentioned were ones that would grow in Australia.

Do you have a special place you like to write?

I like to write on my way to and from work - often in a café or on the bus. Initially this was because it was my only free time but I find that I really enjoy writing in a busy place with things happening around me.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

I am sure that the writing experience is different for every writer but I find that writing every day, even if I don’t feel like it, keeps the story alive. And it is amazing how often I sit down, thinking that I don’t know what I am going to write next, and then find that the words come to me once I start.

What would you be if you weren't a writer?

I can’t imagine not writing but I am also a librarian and I love being part of a profession that shares a love of books and reading.


Read or write?    I find that reading is more comfortable but that writing is more satisfying.

Call or text?    Call. I am very slow at texting.

Fly or drive?    Fly. I love the moment when the plane takes off and I know that when it comes down I will be in a completely different place.

Beach or ski?    Beach - but in winter when the skies are grey and the wind is whipping the waves.

Time travel back or time travel forward?    I can’t choose - I would like to travel both ways.

E-book or traditional book?    Traditional book but I like the convenience of the e-book as well.


Children's book:    Anne of Green Gables

Travel destination:    This changes all the time. At the moment I would like to be on a Greek island.

Magic power:    Love. It changes everything.

We are Sweet on Books, so we have to ask – what is your favorite sweet treat?

Sticky date pudding with lots of buttery sauce and whipped cream.


Elsbeth Edgar has worked as a teacher and a librarian. When her children were young she started writing stories for them, following their interests as they moved from dinosaurs, dragons, and furry animals to school experiences and relationships. She lives in Melbourne, Australia.