5q Interview with Gerry Bobsien, author of Surf Ache

1304558276520Gerry Bobsien is a writer, surfer and reluctant ballet mother. She has worked as a blacksmith in an industrial forge in Melbourne making tools and large architectural works and as a curator and director of an arts centre. She grew up in the western suburbs of Sydney and then via everywhere else now lives in Newcastle Australia.

Can you remember the first story you ever wrote and, if so, what was it?

I think the first story I wrote was a kind of fan-fiction based on Bluebeard. I was ten and couldn’t get enough of it. Bluebeard latched itself onto my consciousness as a wildly terrifying story about a spirited girl who marries someone she thinks is a charming wealthy aristocrat but it turns out he has a habit of murdering his wives and hanging their bodies in a dungeon downstairs. Despite the hooks, blood, suspense and gore, it has a happy ending. Along with re-writing bits of this, I remember acting Bluebeard out in the school library where I played all the characters including the dead wives. Charming.

9781921150920How many novels did you write before your ‘first novel’ was published?

I wrote one very unfinished novel before my first novel was published. I’m glad I didn’t finish it. On a more positive note, I wrote many excellent lists. I am a very good list writer and was also a prolific letter writer before I started using the internet as my practice space for throwing words around. I still write lists (not so many letters).

What sorts of books do you love to read?

> Books from corresponding lovers – actually all books about letters

> Books about the ocean and adventure

> Books that unravel a life and all its complexity out in front of you

> Books that make me cry

> Books about curiosities and anomalies

> Books about hilarious and adventurous young people (ie Lockie Leonard!)

If you were forced to co-write a novel with someone (as we’re not presuming that you’d want to co-write with anyone necessarily) who would it be?

I love making stuff with other people! So my dream collaborator would be Tim Winton. We’d go for a surf in the morning then get to work on an oceanic hilarious romping book for young people (with an early evening break for catching sandworms and throwing a line in).

What are you working on now and next?

I’m currently working on a novel for Walker Books Australia. It’s a story about a girl who finds herself spinning within her mum’s borderline compulsions and newfound christianity and her own desires and plans for escape. She’s finishing school in an apartment 19 floors up with a mother whose whole life is dedicated to suspending our disbelief (that means she’s a continuity expert in the film industry with an EXTREME attention to detail). Life for Bec is complicated and crazy. She’s doing a Duke of Ed as a volunteer in a hospital radio station, stalking a mysterious man in the apartment opposite, risk managing her first sex date with boyfriend harry and having secret dreams about April Young and her ridiculously touchable red hair.

The next thing I need to work on is my PhD at the University of Newcastle (and that awesome (in my dreams) collab with Tim Winton!).

Author website: http://gerry-bobsien.squarespace.com/

Twitter @gerrybobs


Surf Ache by Gerry Bobsien

First, praise for what this story is not. It is not about vampires and werewolves, does not feature a dysfunctional family, there is no strong sexual theme and no time travel. All of this is refreshing in the teen-girl-fiction scene. There is a reference to marijuana use and dealing, but both are condemned. Gerry Bobsien has written a good story about interesting people centred on a very Australian character. Ella, who is in year 9, starts the book sadly, transplanted from Melbourne, where she had ballet, a bestie and a boyfriend, to Newcastle, where only surfing matters. Eventually she begins to shine as a dancer, then on a surfboard, on which she proves a natural.

Review by Jill Rowbotham, Weekend Australian, November 28, 2009