DouglasNews.Network chats with Mossman born and raised Camilla Noli, an author with a knack for writing books that reflect current events. Her latest published novel (her third), The Plague Journal, is no exception. Described as a cross between World War Z and The Da Vinci Code, The Plague Journal is a pre-dystopian novel exploring human reactions to a devastating plague and its aftermath.
Set in a future time, during a period of long term peace, the novel‘s main character, Coyle is one of the greatest con-fabulators of all time. Recognising the plague’s potential devastating consequences Coyle races against time to search desperately for its causation. His quest will uncover the dark, hidden forces that drive human evolution, and reveal how far both individuals and groups will go, to survive.
…the cataclysmic events of our history had one thing in common, the most dreadful part about them was not the noise of their happening, but the silence of their ending…
The Plague Journal is available for download as an e-book or can be ordered as a print book via Amazon Kindle.
All three of your novels delve into elements of human psychology – your first novel Still Waters has a very disturbed main character, Broken Fences is about someone who comes under immense personal stress and the effects of that, and The Plague Journal deals with a deadly pandemic and how individuals and society react. Is this something that has always interested you?
Actually yes. I intended to study psychology for my first degree and ended up “side-tracking” into studying literature instead. So my writing allows me to combine these two interests and explore elements of human character – within a controlled environment!
At this time, the world is experiencing collective trauma as a result of the the COVID pandemic and its physical, psychological and economic events. The world that we will “emerge” into following this will be a changed one for all of us. Whether that change is damaging, or whether it can be a time of growth for humanity, will depend on our individual and collective responses. The Plague Journal also explores the importance of story telling in how we shape that collective response.
You describe Coyle as a “con-fabulator”. Can you tell us what that means?
The Plague Journal is set in a future time when most of the world’s larger problems have been sorted – there is no war, no real illness, no poverty. As a result, the population craves escape from the banality and monotony of day-to-day existence. The con-fabulators create what are essentially virtual reality worlds that people can “escape” to. Coyle is both a linguist and a historian, so he uses these skills and knowledge to build the basis of his created worlds. The ability to create a reality through the power of words and to guide humanity in that way, is an important theme of the novel.
You grew up in the Douglas Shire. Do you have a favourite place to visit when you come home for holidays?
Well obviously my parent’s farm, which is just outside Mossman and along the river, is extremely important to me and always has been. My children also have always loved coming to visit and exploring the farm and the freedom that offers. No trip home is complete without a swim at the Gorge. During my last trip north I did a morning walk around Flagstaff Hill – that was really special. During my next winter visit, I’d like to climb the Devil’s Thumb. I did it many years ago with my father and sister and it’s something I’ve always wanted to do again.
What is next for you Camilla – do you have any more books under development?
There is always a book under development – always something new to think about and write about. At the moment however, I am around three quarters of a way through a law degree, so that is taking up just a bit of my time. I find one of the most fascinating aspects of law are the human stories and drama behind cases, particularly those relating to wills and estates. Lots of great fodder for future stories if I ever suffered from writer’s block!