Interview with writer/composer Johanna Craven

special guest is writer/composer Johanna
. She’s chatting with me about her novel, Music from Standing Waves.
Craven is an Australian-born writer, pianist and film composer. Johanna has
recently published her debut coming-of-age novel, Music from Standing Waves set in the 1990’s Australia. She is also
an avid traveler and environmental activist and is currently based in London.
Welcome, Johanna. Please
tell us about your current release.
Music from
Standing Waves
is the story of Abby, a young violinist growing up in a tiny
country town in Far North Queensland, Australia. Desperate to leave home to
pursue her career, Abby throws herself into her music at the expense of
relationships with family and friends. At eighteen, she is accepted into the
Melbourne Conservatorium and finally has the chance to follow her dream. But
when she meets fellow student, Matt, she realises that love for a person can be
even more powerful than love for music. Suddenly Abby finds herself questioning
everything she thought she ever wanted.
Music from
Standing Waves
explores themes of sacrifice, self-discovery and many different types
of love.
What inspired you to
write this book?
Music from Standing

is a combination of my two biggest passions; music and writing. I believe music
has the power to shape the course of people’s lives and this is something I
aimed to illustrate in the book.
Excerpt from Music from Standing Waves:
I lifted the violin
to my shoulder and took a deep breath. I could smell the vanilla candles Hayley
was burning upstairs. They mixed with the fragrant air that floated through the
open window above our heads; a breath of frangipani and rain and the sea. They
were scents that had surrounded me my whole life and only now, as I prepared to
leave, did I realise how beautiful they were. I swallowed hard and gripped the

Count in when youre ready,said Andrew.

My fingers found the
notes of the first movement and wove my melody through the piano accompaniment.
The arpeggios strained skyward and this time I went with them. Melbourne may
not have had snow, but it rained and hailed and the leaves changed colour and
fell from the trees. And Melbourne had a place for me in their Arts College. I
was grateful for the darkness. Andrew couldnt see the tears rushing down my face. All I had ever
wanted was coming true and there I was crying like my world was collapsing.
Music had lifted me out of my present so many times, but as the notes played
their final encore, a part of me desperately wanted to stay forever in the
past. To stay forever playing Elgar in Andrews

The motifs from the
first two movements twisted through the finale. I tried to cover my tears with
a choked up cough. Andrew paused on the piano. He reached into the darkness and
touched my bare arm.

“You okay?” he asked.

Keep playing,” I said.
Just keep playing.Music returned to the darkness and wove through the shadows. I closed my
eyes and my hearing heightened. I swam in the sounds that had always made up
the orchestra of Acacia Beach. Rain on the roof, croaking frogs and the Elgar E Minor.
What exciting story
are you working on next?
current book on submission is an historical drama set in the 17th century
pirate boomtown of Port Royal. I’m also in the draft stage of a book centred
around a dark and little-known incident from Australia’s convict past.
When did you first
consider yourself a writer?
I made the first sale of my book.
Do you write
full-time? If so, what’s your work day like? If not, what do you do other than
write and how do you find time to write?
addition to my work as a writer, I am also a film composer and piano teacher. I
teach in the afternoons and evenings, which gives me plenty of time during the
day to write words and music. I am very lucky to have such a fantastic working
What would you say is
your interesting writing quirk?
books are set in the recent and not-so-recent past and I find myself adopting
words and phrases from my characters’ dialogue. While working on Music from Standing Waves, I ended a lot
of my sentences with the 90s-esque “…not”. When I’m writing
historical fiction, it has been pointed out to me that I overuse the word
“holler” and have a tendency to speak like a seventeenth century
pirate wench…
As a child, what did
you want to be when you grew up?
Anything additional
you want to share with the readers?
you! It’s such a joy to know my stories and characters are being read and
enjoyed by people across the world.
Thanks for being here
today, Johanna!

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