HOLLY Throsby is the kind of person that frustrates people. But not in a negative way.
Her ability to spread her talent across multiple creative streams successfully is dumbfounding for anyone hoping to possess a sprinkle of magic dust in a singular field.
Last October Throsby released her critically-acclaimed debut novel, Goodwood, a murder mystery set in a fictional NSW town. Then just four months later Throsby ended her six-year break from music with her sixth album After A Time.
All this managed with her two-year-old daughter Alvy.
“That’s my constant struggle, to find enough time for all my projects I want to do,” Throsby says.
“It’s really difficult because there is so much I want to do, but it’s a really good place to be in. I feel a sense of urgency around creative projects.
“I spent periods where there was nothing I felt like working on and I didn’t know what I wanted to say or do and that’s a desolate feeling. The time is difficult to manage, but I’d rather be in a state where I feel there’s not enough time to do everything I want to do, rather than there’s nothing I want to say.”
It was Throsby’s hectic touring schedule in 2011-12 which left her feeling disengaged with music and led her to pursue her initial love of writing. Conversely, writing Goodwood eventually re-energised the indie-folk songstress’ passion for music.
It’s obvious in After A Time. The 38-year-old sounds inspired by the tranquility of her natural environment and familial contentment.
“Having a kid now it’s just different,” she says. “Touring for me generally means being away from my family, which is not something I’m that keen about.
“It’s a slightly different feeling to when I was 25 and it was total free-spirit zone. For me now, it’s mainly rehearsing with a new band that’s made me really excited. Now I can’t wait.”
After the years of relative solitude writing Goodwood, Throsby is looking forward to her brief return to the collaborative aspect of playing in a band.
“Live performance is anything on the night,” she says. “It’s always different and a fresh imagining of your work. Once you finish a book it’s done, but songs keep living.”
Throsby also tours around Australia in her novelist hat. She has appeared at the Perth and Adelaide Writers Festivals and was recently in the shire as a guest author for Writer’s Unleashed. They give her the opportunity to articulate the difference between writing books and songs.
“When I was writing Goodwood I was informed by my internal sense of rhythm,” she says. “Prose writing has a lot to do with rhythm. As a musician I felt I could bring some of my musical bones into writing prose, but melody is so elusive. Songwriting to me feels like it’s more of a channeling of something, and I’m not sure what it is.
“If I sit down and work really really hard for a full week in an office-style situation with songwriting, I feel like I haven’t achieved much from that. While novel writing was about a lot of hard work and tapping into some creative zone and trying to stay there for some sustained period.”
Throsby is already four chapters into her second novel and she plans to return to writing following her upcoming album tour.
“I doubt I’ll be doing much music for a while after this, just because novel writing does take such time and commitment and focus,” she says.
“I’m looking forward to this tour a lot and then I’ll be putting music aside to write another book.”
- Holly Throsby plays at the Brass Monkey in Cronulla on Saturday, October 28.