AWW feature: Q&A with Nicole Trope

Please welcome Nicole Trope!


In my review of The Boy Under The Table, Nicole Trope’s first adult novel I wrote, “...[The Boy Under the Table] is a novel that is both utterly shocking and unbearably moving which makes for a compelling tale.”. With stark realism, The Boy Under The Table relates a horrific reality for two lost children. Tina ended up on the streets of King Cross at barely fifteen, sharing a squat with a group of young boys, showering at a local gym and prostituting herself, trapped in an endless cycle of poverty and despair. On a cold winter’s night she accepts a client’s offer to go home with him and discovers his horrifying secret, a malnourished and filthy child huddled under the man’s kitchen table, tethered by ropes around his ankle and neck. Impressed with the novel, I was pleased to be given the opportunity to ask the author a few questions.

Trope is a former high school teacher with a Masters Degree in Children’s Literature who lives in Australia with her husband and three children.  In 2005 she was one of the winners of the Varuna Awards for Manuscript Development. In 2009 her young adult novel titled I Ran Away First was shortlisted for the Text Publishing Prize. The Boy Under the Table was published in June 2012 by Allen & Unwin. To learn more about Nicole and her novel, read on…

Q.There have been several high profile cases of abducted children in recent years including Madeline McCann, Daniel Morecombe and Rahma El-Dennaoui, what inspired you to write The Boy Under The Table?

As a mother I have always been deeply affected by the stories that you have mentioned. It has always seemed to me that once you have a child the world can become a very scary place. There appears to be no sense or reason as to why some parents find themselves trapped in the horrifying reality of losing a child.

Not all parents are loving parents and yet it is clear that these particular parents-especially Madeline McCann’s parents and Daniel Morecombe’s parents were the most loving and giving of parents. They have not moved on from their loss and they refuse to stop looking for their children. Like many mothers I have felt some of their grief when I considered the possibility of something like that happening.

The actual inspiration for the story came from a small novel based in fact. It was a long time and many books ago so I cannot remember the name of the novel. The story focused on a mother and daughter relationship after the son and brother in the family had gone missing. In the novel the daughter has grown up and she reflects on what the loss has done to her family. One page in the book deals with police finding another child trapped in the house of a paedophile. As a reader I was almost overwhelmed with anger when I read about this man and I thought about what I would do if I ever went into a house and found something like that. “Don’t be ridiculous,” I thought- “you will never be in such a situation.” And from somewhere came the words- “but Tina might be.” Tina arrived in my thoughts fully formed and completely clear-right down to her coat and then I knew what she was doing in this house and what would happen from there.

Q.  What sort of research was involved in writing The Boy under the Table?

The internet is a great resource. I watched documentaries on street kids and read interviews. I also researched the town of Cootamundra. I have always read everything I could about the cases of missing children and as a writer I have learnt that when I become obsessed with a certain topic it usually means that there is a novel on the way.

Q. Why did you choose to use alternating viewpoints from four different characters?

One lost child can affect a whole family and indeed the whole world. I needed to explore how Sarah and Doug and the people who loved them were coping and I needed to explore the ripples of such a tragedy. I am interested in what happens after the story becomes old news. The headlines disappear and we all get on with our lives whilst whole families are trapped in the horrible limbo of not knowing. The world moves onto the next big story but what life is like after the spotlight disappears is what I find compelling.

Q. What did you leave out of the story?

I believe I hinted more than explained exactly what Lockie and Tina experienced in their lives before they met each other. Readers are smart enough to work this out and gratuitous images were not necessary.

Q. How do you hope readers feel when they finish The Boy under the Table?

Satisfied by the story. I prefer books that give me a sense of completion. I would also hope that they feel they have been taken on an emotional ride. I want them to have wished they could suspend time so they can finish the story.

Q. What are you working on now?

I am currently working on another novel. My second novel titled A Better Man, has been bought by Allen & Unwin.

Q.  I have to ask, is your surname (Trope) a coincidence or contrivance?

Only a coincidence. The pervading myth my husband likes to relate is that many decades ago a relative with a less than salubrious reputation found himself in New York and decided a change of name was in order. Apparently a lawyer with a sense of humour suggested the name “Trope”.

Q.  Name your three favourite novels by Australian Women writers?

Q. What is your preference?

  • Coffee/Tea or other? Coffee in the morning and tea the rest of the day.
  • Beach/Pool or River? Pool, I’m not fond of sand or bugs.
  • Slacks/Jeans or Leggings? Casual slacks-I really want to follow fashion and always look immaculate but I lack the ability to stay interested.
  • Butterfly/Tiger or Giraffe? I have been declared a Tiger mother by my teenage daughter. I don’t think I’m that bad-she just doesn’t like to tidy her room and be told to get off social websites. I certainly feel the burn of a roar inside if I feel my children are threatened or in danger.
  • Swing/Slide or Roundabout? Swing- I still remember a poem from year one about the joys of a swing.

Thank you for your time Nicole, I wish you success with The Boy Under the Table and look forward to your next novel.

 Follow Nicole Trope on Facebook

The Boy Under the Table is available to purchase

@Allen & Unwin I @BoomerangBooks I @Booktopia

@Amazon (Kindle) I @Google Play

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Bookish news and publishing tidbits 12 June 2012 | Read in a Single Sitting - Book reviews and new books

I want to know what you think! Your comments are appreciated.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s