The Double

Dreams come true for Dr Maria Takolander.

I have always wanted to be a writer, says Dr Maria Takolander.
I have always wanted to be a writer, says Dr Maria Takolander.

It’s not just in fiction that dreams come true.

As a young girl, learning to cope with her mother’s tongue – Finnish - and her new mother tongue in Australia, Dr Maria Takolander fell in love with words.

By the age of five she knew she wanted to be a writer.

With the publication of her new book of short stories, The Double (Text Publishing) this month, she has confirmed her place as one of Australia’s exciting young new writers.

“I have always wanted to be a writer,” said Dr Takolander, a senior lecturer in Deakin University’s School of Communication and Creative Arts.

“However, this two book deal with Text is more than I ever expected.

“It is a dream come true.”

The two book deal with Text Publishing came almost out of nowhere.

Dr Takolander has already published accomplished books of poetry before trying her hand at short stories.

“I had written a couple of short stories and one of them had won a prize and that got the attention of the people at Text Publishing,” she said.

“They contacted me and asked me to come into their office and asked me if I had any plans for larger projects.

“I pitched them a couple of ideas and they called me a couple of days later and said they would like to offer me a two book contract, one for a book of short stories, and one for a novel, on which I am working now.”

Hearing that, right around Australia, aspiring young (and old) writers by the thousands who’ve got a bottom draw over-flowing with rejection slips will be turning a deep shade of envious green.

The inspiration for the book of short stories, which was launched in Geelong in August by Australian poet, critic, novelist and editor Peter Rose, is the concept of the double.

“So all of the stories in the first part of the books are doubles for literary classics,” Dr Takolander said.

“There is a story called The Red Wheelbarrow which writes back to William Carlos Williams’ famous poem.

“The title story The Double writes back to Dostoyevsky’s novella of the same name.

“There is always a doubling that’s at work in the collections in the first part of the story.

“That came about in response to a life lived in books through reading, but also thinking at a very basic or pure level about the role that literature plays in our lives.

“For me when I read a book, I look for insights into my experience in the characters or the patterns of meaning, or the themes that are explored in that book.

“I look for ways to think about my own experience through what is portrayed in the book.”
Settings for Dr Takolander’s stories range from rural Australia to northern Europe, home of her family who moved to Australia from Scandinavia just before she was born.

They are timed from the dark days of the Soviet Union to what is described as a terrifying vision of the near future.

Even at this early stage, Praise for The Double has been lavish.

“Maria Takolander’s stories are written in a bewitching minor key,” wrote author Danielle Wood.

“Haunting and mysterious, this is a collection that you will want to savour, then read all over again.”

Having an award-winning author as a supervisor ought to be bonus for Dr Takolander’s postgraduate students at Deakin University.

But she sees it as the other way around.

“My post graduate students, they are wonderful, they inspire me, every week that I am dealing with them, and talking about their novels and poetry in progress,” Dr Takolander said.

“It is fantastic environment to be in as a writer.

“I often hear some scepticism about writers in academia, but it is such a wonderful and enriching environment for writers because you are dealing with literary language every day, you are talking about books every day, you are talking about writing every day.”

And discussing perhaps how often dreams can come true, literally and otherwise.

Dr Maria Takolander with the launching the 28th edition of the Deakin students-edited Verandah Journal on August 31st at ACMI in Melbourne at 5.30 as part of the Melbourne Writer's Festival.

What The Australian says about The Double

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