I wrote Thrill Seekers a long time ago now as part of my Masters degree in Creative Writing. It was created from the stories I needed to get out of my head, the ones that wouldn’t let me sleep at night until I got them out and onto the page.
Thrill Seekers is dedicated to my brother Matthew and his courage and resilience battling adolescent onset schizophrenia. My aim was to keep his memory and essence alive and in the world.
Then just a couple of weeks ago, following Thrill Seekers release as a new imprint by Ransom Publishing in 2019, a fresh review turned up. By someone who really “got it”. And I felt almost as thrilled as when I first heard I’d been shortlisted. Although then, I may have spent a few hours weeping and whispering, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
“Thrill Seekers is a good novel. It isn’t a nice novel, and it certainly isn’t a fun novel, but it’s the kind of novel that grabs you by the front of your coat and shakes you around a bit before dropping you just as suddenly….
Not for the faint of heart and certainly not for the squeamish, Thrill Seekers is a bloody, harrowing, all-Australian tale which is well worth grappling with.” Luke Power
Which cover do you like best? The new one is very snazzy but I’ve got a soft spot for the original because the young man in the image looks uncannily like my brother. Even down to his favourite shirt. It was kind of spooky when I first saw it.
Do let me know if you’ve read Thrill Seekers. It’s a writer’s greatest joy hearing from readers.
I’ve just finished reading Henry Handel (or as I like to call her Ettie) Richardson’s memoir, Myself When Young.
I’ve been a fussy reader recently, picking up the latest literary best sellers, then putting them down again, unfinished. This though, I read all the way to the end.
Even though H.H. died before she’d completed the manuscript, her notes and her husband’s jottings were used to flesh out the final section. I found it a fascinating read. Not only because it gave us a woman’s perspective of Australia in the late 19th century, but also because her writing is such a pleasure. Clean and clear. Her voice carried me through, even without a plot driving the story forward. Even though she was writing almost one hundred years ago.
Her life wasn’t easy. Her father died young and the family struggled, despite their middle-class privilege. But she knew this:
“To a writer, experience was the only thing that really mattered. Hard and bitter as it might seem, it was to be welcomed rather than shrunk from, reckoned as a gain and not a loss.”
H. H. Richardson
I’ve been telling myself and my writing students the same thing for a long time now. As creative artists, all the shitty stuff that happens to us has value. It is the gold we mine for our stories. And a wonderful way to begin to be grateful for the traumas in our life.
EVERYTHING IS MATERIAL!
Every experience is be relished. Treasured even. No matter how painful. Because everything we endure increases our depth of understanding of the human experience and that is what writers need, more than any fancy turn of phrase, or fast-paced plot. Because we write to make sense of what it is to live in the world, of what is is to live a human life.
The more we live, in all the pain and muck and glory, the better our writing will be.
Thank you, dear Ettie, for your words and for your wisdom.