No 'second year syndrome' for author Michael Sala: The Restorer long-listed for Miles Franklin Literary Award

SECOND GUESSING: University creative writing lecturer Michael Sala questioned his ability to pen a second novel as successful as his first. Picture: Jonathan Carroll
SECOND GUESSING: University creative writing lecturer Michael Sala questioned his ability to pen a second novel as successful as his first. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

When Michael Sala sat down to pen his second creative novel, he had one fear – that he may have been a “one-hit wonder”.

Cooks Hill’s resident author revealed any fears along those lines were “brushed away” upon hearing his second offering – The Restorer – had been named on the Miles Franklin Literary Award long-list.

“It’s been a good run for this book, it’s had a lot of success in shortlisting and now this long-listing, and I’ve been very fortune that this one has been recognised,” 

“When you write that first book there’s a feeling of ‘can I write another book and will it past muster’ – you stress about a bit of second-year syndrome, so to have all these accolades for the book has put a lot of my worries at ease.

“Whenever you write something there’s always that fear in the back of your mind about whether it’s the last great thing you’ll ever do. The Restorer has put a lot of confidence back, getting it out there and having it recognised means I can focus on the [third] book with just a bit less anxiety.”

The Restorer tells the story of recently reunited couple Maryanne and Roy, who have moved for a fresh start with their two children to a rundown terrace in the East End, which Roy intends to rebuild into their home.

Sala, who also is a lecturer in creative writing at the University of Newcastle, explained much of the story comes from experiences from his past, and said he was “very lucky” to be able to write about his home town.

The focus, however, is on the disempowerment and isolation that children often feel in a family conflict, and the relationships that develop and dissolve through that.

“I was asked a lot when speaking about my own family and the struggles that we went through – ‘Why did your mum not just leave?’” he explained. “I wanted to tell the story of what it can be like. The book puts a spotlight on the difficulties in terms of violence, and how it distorts your own views of the world.”

The award shortlist will be announced on June 17.

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