Briefly tell us about your book.
Funkytown is a memoir about my last year of high school in 1993. I was a scared 17-year-old trying to find some direction in the chaos of Frankston, Victoria, which was in the grip of the hunt for a serial killer. My insecurities were motivating me, but also causing me to self-destruct. The book is about the importance of friends, family, teachers and hope against fear.
What inspired the idea behind this book?
Funkytown has been asking me to write it for many years. My memories are vivid from that time – the most exhilarating year of my life. I made some very bad decisions in 1993 and I needed to find some resolution in the regrets I took with me into adulthood. Ultimately, the timing of the book was inspired by the current public discussion about masculinity. I wanted to examine my experiences in relation to the culture of boys becoming men.
What are you hoping the reader will take away from reading your book?
I’m hoping readers will recognise the themes of the book as themes in their life. For young readers, I hope to show that it’s unhealthy to reject or supress important feelings. I also want to celebrate the importance of mentors – like my high school English teacher Mrs Mac, who saved me from completely falling apart.
What was the most challenging part of writing this book?
My greatest challenge was to find my youthful voice and move away from a 25-year journalistic style of writing. I needed to tell the story of a 17-year-old boy without imparting too much middle-aged wisdom. I wrote many drafts before I discovered the authenticity I needed.
How did you think of the title of the book?
The title – Funkytown – came from the name my friends and family used for our home of Frankston. I like it for its playfulness and the memories it conjures.
What’s some great advice you’ve received that has helped you as a writer?
In the years of preparation I had for writing this book I read and reread many memoirs. I also read books about writing memoirs. The best advice I came across was to apply the greatest scrutiny to one character in particular – me. In memoir writing, the game is rigged because the author is the only person who gets to have their say. I took that responsibility very seriously.