Novelist from Down Under visits upstate
By Janie Frank
Associate News Editor
Feb 10, 2015
Novelist Peter Carey visited the University at Albany on Tuesday, Feb. 3, to answer questions regarding his newest book, “Amnesia.”
Although originally from Australia, Carey explained that he moved to the United States after falling in love with a girl. The romance didn’t last, but his feelings of nationality for the country did.
“I’ve been in the United States for 25 years,” he said.
The novel was written for people of both countries to read.
“I always think of Australians when I write and I write for Australians,” he said. “I also write about Australia to tell Americans about it.”
Any Australian history found in the novel that most Americans don’t know – and there is quite a bit of it – is not direly important, as a reader can understand the story without all of the background information.
Carey does ask for his reader to trust him about all of the historical events mentioned in his story.
They are all accurate, according to him.
“If you don’t trust me, you can waste all of your time on Google and see that it’s all true,” he said.
“Amnesia” is loosely based off of Julian Assange’s story, which Carey was extremely interested in when he first started writing the novel.
“I found it intriguing that Americans were calling him a traitor,” he said. “Julian Assange is Australian so therefore it kind of figures that he can’t be a traitor. It showed me how little knowledge they had about this person.”
However, the main character in his novel, a hacker named Gaby, is female.
“I made her female immediately so that she would not be Julian Assange,” Carey said.
The two are similar but not identical.
When Carey was asked by his editor if he would be interested in writing a book about Assange, he refused.
“The thing about writing novels is you love to be in control,” he said. “When you’re a novelist, you’re really in charge. That’s why I won’t write biographies.”
He went on the explain that writing about something that has actually happened means the writer is severely limited in what he can and cannot say about the situation. Carey prefers to make up his scenes and characters entirely.
“I’m not my characters,” he said.
However, a main character, a novelist named Felix, has the same hometown as Carey. They also went to the same university and both of their father’s are car dealers. Regardless, Carey argues that the character was not based on him at all.
“That’s not really enough for a character,” he said. “Everybody wanted the characters to be me in some way. I’m not really interested at all in writing about myself. It’s tedious.”
“Amnesia” was released in Australia and the United Kingdom in December of last year and in the United States in January of this year.
For more information about the author, visit petercareybooks.com.