Interview: Author Chloe Hooper on novel The Engagement
Erotic psychological thriller addressing clichéd view of prostitution
Do you see your new book, The Engagement, as an erotic novel?
I actually see it as an anti-erotic novel. It explores the way seemingly harmless fantasies can turn dangerous. The main character, Liese, has been getting off on an idea of prostitution as a life of easy money and sexual freedom, while her client has a – perhaps equally clichéd – fantasy of saving a fallen woman by marrying her. It’s basically about how sex can ruin your life! And if I had to run towards a genre it would be psychological thriller.
How do you feel that erotic fiction is changing?
I don’t read enough of it to know. Is anyone still picking up the Fifty Shades Trilogy or is that now considered ancient? (I believe those two sexual libertarians marry and have two small children, which should put an end to their hijinks.)
Do you see your protagonists as feminist? Do you think they would call themselves feminists?
I think Liese would see herself as a feminist, but that her fantasies veer between the radical and conservative. (Freud believed our fantasy lives are akin to a “nature reserve where everything including what is useless and even what is noxious can proliferate as it pleases”.) Later in this book, I hope, it becomes harder to tell whose fantasy it is being played out.
What are you working on now?
In between my two novels I wrote a book of true crime, The Tall Man, about a death in an Australian Aboriginal community. I’m now returning to reportage, writing about a man who deliberately lit a fire in country Australia on a record hot day, terrorising thousands and killing 11 people. I’m attracted to stories that reveal something deeper about the culture we live in.
The Engagement is out now from Vintage