Felicity Volk: My favourite things


Felicity Volk’s second novel, Desire Lines, set largely in Canberra, has just been published. A long-term Canberra resident, Felicity arrived in 1989 to join the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. After diplomatic postings in Bangladesh and Laos, and following the birth of her two daughters, she began writing for publication. Her award-winning first novel, Lightning, which begins during the January 2003 bushfires, was described as “astonishing … a bolt of brilliance”. Desire Lines has received rave reviews as “epic, tender, heart-rending – a story resonating in its spectacular landscapes”. Against the backdrop of Canberra’s growth from farmland in the 1920s to a modern national capital, the novel explores a compulsive, unconventional love that spans decades and crosses continents. Felicity divides her time between the world of foreign policy, writing, painting murals and a newfound love of composting and growing vegetables as an antidote to the despair of climate change.


While writing or to create a peaceful oasis in the juggle of the day, I love the ritual of a long, slow pot of tea. The pot is as important as its contents. I bought this one second-hand for a song.  Sheffield silver. Think of the conversations it’s joined since 1880!


The apocalypse of recent months has been deeply disturbing: fire, smoke, flood, hail. At Christmas, I asked Santa for a raised garden bed, beeswax food wrappings, a SodaStream. Planting seedlings immediately before a week-long heatwave? Not my best effort. The irony of having just published a book about a landscape architect doesn’t escape me.


I had the luxury of a year off work to write Desire Lines thanks to grants from the Australia Council and artsACT. Returning to the office was a wrench. To counter the shock, I spent weekends painting a jungle on the wall of my house (After Rousseau). A salute to creativity.


Life is messy; you end up in places you don’t anticipate. But it’s possible to heal old wounds, be forgiven and forgive, recover love and peace. My ex, my gorgeous daughters and I have dinner together each week. It’s a celebration of abiding love and grace.


Made for me by an 83-year-old friend in Wisconsin (USA), this Andon-style Japanese lamp is as much about friendship and love as light and beauty. George painstakingly crafted it from cocobolo wood he had been saving for 40 years and gingko leaves from a tree he planted himself.

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