Posted by: Natalie Hatch | July 21, 2009

The Ice Age by Kirsten Reed

Kirsten Reed’s debut novel ‘The Ice Age’ has been described as a modern day cross country adventure. I don’t want to give away too much, but I just have to share the first paragraph with you.

‘There were those teeth. Those little vampire teeth, glinting sharply as he stared at the road in front of us in a vacant daze. We drove past all the gaudy painted signs telling us where the next doughnut shop was, the nearest hamburger joint; pizza, now doughnuts again. The road was stretched across this wasteland like a big silver rubber band, stapled down by flourescent mustardy-yellow lines. Even the sky looked tacky, needlessly aqua, a tourist’s T-shirt. And that white skin. His iceberg eyes, luminous white-blue, burning into the distance. I wished he would hurry up and bite me. Drain me of this wish, pull me over to the other side. Surely anyone with teeth that sharp…’

A road trip with a man that could rip your throat out at any second? What sane girl would go for that? Why is she traveling across the country anyway?

Kirsten was so nice in answering a couple of my questions.

How much of your own cross-country teenage trip made it into Ice Age?

I didn’t set out to write a book about my adolescent travels, at all. It’s a ficticious scenario. Obviously I honed in on the perspective of someone coming of age, but I drew from observations and experiences I’ve accumulated throughout my entire life thus far, in order to shape all of the characters, not just the narrator. The Ice Age was written intuitively, loosely, and organically. I deliberately kept it a little surreal. To me it’s more of an abstract emotional map of where I’ve been. The things I borrowed directly from my own story tended to be minor off-beat details. For example, when my father was driving my brother and I across the US when I was fifteen, we stopped in a remote town to buy snacks. When I walked through the door of a shop, two boys playing video games dropped their jaws, and one of them marked my entrance with a loud “Gawd DAMN!”, despite the fact I was actually a dishevelled kid with braces, tired and sweaty from sitting in the car all day. My father actually blushed. This was all strange and kind of funny to me at the time, and made it into the book fairly intact.

Having read your story I was horrified to think of a 17yr old traipsing across the US on her own, did you always have this spirit of adventure? How has it influenced you in the way you write?

I have always been curious. I am often drawn to people who are more ‘out there’ than I am, as I can be quiet and reflective. I like travelling, and I suppose I have put myself in some potentially risky situations. In terms of writing, I think the more you can observe of the world and people, the better. At the very least the real world is a font of inspiration. Truth really is stranger than fiction.

Can you tell us a little bit about your ‘call’ story (how you found out you were to be published)?

Hopefully this account is accurate– when I look back on these events it’s all a happy blur. I had sent The Ice Age manuscript to Text for their YA competition. Even though it’s literary fiction, there is some cross-over with YA, and I like comps because your book is guaranteed to be read, and not lost in a slush pile. Shortly after the YA comp had come and gone, someone at Text found my manuscript, read it, and liked it. It started to make the rounds. I got a phone call from Mandy Brett, the editor I would eventually work with, saying they liked my book. She sounded me out about whether I would take to the editing process, given that I’m a visual artist mainly, and used to working alone. By this stage I was very keen to work with Text. Finally, Michael Heyward came to town for the Brisbane Writers Festival, and we met for coffee. We had a good chat, and he offered me the publishing deal then and there.

What advice would you give those struggling to write?

I find it hard to give generic advice; we are all different. In my case I kept daily journals for ten plus years. I love a well-told story; it doesn’t have to be in the form of a novel. It can be a film, or a drunken pub yarn. So, I would say: get comfortable expressing yourself in your writing, and don’t lose track of what you feel makes a good story. If you’re challenged and entertained, hopefully your readers will be, too.

The book is not for young readers as there’s a fair wack of sex, violence, drugs and strong language. But  if you’re not put off by that the premise of why she’s doing what she’s doing is worth the read.

I have a copy to give away.  Tell us of the worst/best road trip you’ve ever had to go in the running for The Ice Age.



  1. My favourite road trips are with my writing buddies up to Byron Bay Writers Festival, except last year when it poured all the way and I was glad I wasn’t the one driving. And the first day of the Fest was cancelled.

    Worst trip. Family holiday many years ago. Gearbox blew up somewhere between Adaminaby & Tumut. Travelling companions took us to Tumut & went back to pick up my mother and caravan while my father drove the car 60ks or so in reverse to Tumut.

  2. Best trip ever was when I went down to Sydney with my family. I got to meet up with a friend who had just moved there and got to meet her fiance as well. Way fun!

  3. Hey Di you’re always on the road, we might start calling you Mad Max soon. LOL
    Thanks for dropping by Llehn.

  4. Mad Max! HAHAHAHAH! We don’t need another herooo ….

  5. My best road trip was from Oregon to Wisconsin. We took our time and stopped and saw a lot of tourist sites.

    My worst would have to be traveling around central Mexico on buses which contained people and poultry in cages and no restroom on board. In the 1970’s no public bathrooms in Mexico had toilet paper. People sat outside the entrance and sold it by the sheet.

  6. I am amazed people would sell toilet paper by the sheet, my family would go broke buying it. LOL

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