Madeleine Ryan is a writer and author based in rural Victoria, Australia. She writes regularly about autism for VICE, SBS, Bustle, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Daily Telegraphand, formerly, for Lena Dunham’s publication, LENNY. She also writes messages of empowerment for autistic women via ASPECT(Autism Spectrum Australia).
You can view some of her work here.
Madeleine has worked as a waitress, a factory hand, a retail assistant, a nanny, a life model, an actor, a numerologist, a receptionist and an English and drama tutor.
She accidentally* double-majored in English Literature and Creative Writing at Melbourne University, because kept choosing subjects that she enjoyed, until someone said, “what’s your major?” and she said, “my what?” and ran to an arts counselor who told her that, thankfully, she was on her way to a double-major.
It took her eight years to finish the degree. Madeleine studied acting in Melbourne and worked with a Sydney-based acting agent for a couple of years. She performed in many theatre productions around the city, before she wrote, directed and starred in her own show, The Unholy Body of Ignatius Grail, as part of The Melbourne Fringe Festival in 2015. She currently works as a co-director on all of art-pop band daydream_haunting’s music videos. She lives in the bush with two cats, a man, and a greyhound, and is very pleased with the silver beet growing in the garden, and the milk frother currently sitting on the kitchen bench. Madeleine’s debut literary novel, A Room Called Earth, is being represented by The Barbara Zitwer Literary Agency.
* Madeleine does not believe in accidents.
A Room Called Earth
A Room Called Earth is set in Australia, under a full moon, during the summertime. It is a work that bridges commercial and literary fiction, and it meets the needs of readers interested in exploring all manner of “isms” such as: autism, veganism, mysticism, feminism, environmentalism and sexism. However, none of these themes are explicitly stated, because it can be difficult to get to know the multidimensional nature of something through the confines of its label. Instead, we’re given room to traverse these taboo subjects from safely within the confines of the protagonist’s shamelessness, and logic.
The book is written in the first person, and the main character moves easily between contemplating her sex life, her body image, her eventual demise, her parents’ neuroses, her masochistic tendencies, her white privilege, and her relentless desire for a plant-based sandwich, because nothing is off limits to her mind. And as the events of Christmas Eve Eve unfold, she continuously weaves a web around the magical, the mundane, and the tragic.
The story starts in her parents’ colonialist mansion in Toorak, Melbourne. They died when she was nineteen, and she’s been caring for their multi-million dollar property, and it’s extensive gardens, ever since. However, we only get to know this about her when a love interest enters the narrative, and opens up our understanding of her, and her world. Because that’s the role we play for one another: we open each other up, and expand our understanding of the world.
A Room Called Earth is a celebration of what it means to be alive, and to truly connect. The love scene featured in the last third of the novel is it’s climax, and it evokes the mythological, biblical and ancient. Because being alive, and truly connecting, is a physical manifestation of the mythological, biblical, and ancient. Above all, A Room Called Earth introduces readers to a beautiful, young, autistic woman, who is courageous, and wild, and who proudly dons a culturally insensitive kimono, as she spreads her wings, and soars, across Australia’s summertime skies.
Madeleine Ryan's A ROOM CALLED EARTH, pitched as reminiscent to Eleanor Oliphant, told through the eyes of a young autistic woman as she gets ready for and attends a party replete with intricate and awkward encounters with others, until a love interest enters the narrative and opens up our understanding of her and her extraordinary world, to Casey Denis at Penguin Press, for publication in Jan 2020.