Nicky Pellegrino and Stacy Gregg continue their podcast interview series with popular New Zealand writers. This week: Amy McDaid, the author of Fake Baby.

Auckland’s Amy McDaid is an exciting new talent on our literary scene. Her debut novel, Fake Baby, strikes an elegant balance between dark comedy and compassion. All three of its characters are in crisis. Stephen is mentally ill and believes his dead father is going to destroy the world. Jaanvi has lost her baby, and adopted an eerily lifelike baby doll. Lucas is a pharmacist who has bungled a prescription. The novel tells of nine dramatic days in their lives.

Juggling shift work in a neonatal unit and caring for her daughter, McDaid has needed resilience and passion to keep writing but it’s paid off – Fake Baby has spent five consecutive weeks in the bestseller charts so far since its release. “I have a dark sense of humour,” she tells Nicky Pellegrino in this week’s BookBubble podcast. “I’m a nurse.”

Extract from Fake Baby

Titirangi, a wealthy suburb on the fringes of West Auckland’s rainforest: home to pole houses, bohemian ideals, and placard-toting residents willing to clamber up condemned trees on building sites. These same residents, the worst recyclers in the city according to Stan the rubbish man, preferred not to speak of the election results which time and again revealed them as leaning further to the right than the image they cultivated. Despite its art gallery, five-metre-high algae sculptures, six cafés, two hundred chickens and a rat infestation, Titirangi was not the place for swanky bars or late-night tipples either. Nor, it seemed, was Titirangi the place for successful first dates. Not for Lucas Trout, anyway.

To avoid the clanging noises from the kitchen, Lucas had booked a table outside on the deck. On arrival, Lucy’s eyes had flicked from the plastic tarpaulin to the patio lamp to the encroaching mānuka trees. “It’s cold,” she said. Lucas stood up and suggested they move inside. She set her jaw and sat down. From the trees, a ruru cried more-pork, more-pork, and, as if in answer, a rooster cock-a-doodle-dooed.

Perhaps it was the thick black tables that made Bush Bar and Restaurant feel cold and unappealing. Perhaps it was the barstools, the colour of damp moss, or the exhortation of the wall print: Help yourself to happiness. Maybe it was the Sunday-night patrons, or lack of, unsettling the atmosphere. Apart from Lucy and Lucas, meeting for the first time, there were just two others — a middle-aged couple two tables away.

No one was talking at Bush Bar and Restaurant. No one was making eye contact. The four of them gazed out through the murky tarpaulin, scrutinised the waiter and watched the bartender as if his vigorous wiping of the counter were the best thing that had happened to them all week.

Fake Baby by Amy McDaid (Penguin, $36) is available in bookstores nationwide.

BookBubble is made with the support of Creative New Zealand Toi Aotearoa. Previous podcast interviews in the series have been conducted with Damien Wilkins, Kyle Mewburn, Nalini Singh, Christine Leunens, Elizabeth Knox, Brandy Scott, Charity Norman, Victor Rodger, and Tayi Tibble.,dpr_auto,f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto,w_1200/k4dswzptnfv4vwoj2zr5

Nicky Pellegrino is the author of 11 novels, many of them published internationally. Her latest book is Tiny Pieces Of Us (published by Hachette in 2020).

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