Jeremy Gadd is an Australian author and poet. After graduating from the National Institute of Dramatic Art, he worked extensively in professional theatre in Australia and the United Kingdom before concentrating on his writing, which includes plays, the publication of novels, fifty short stories and poetry. He has also written dialogue for a dance performed by The Sydney Dance Company at the Sydney Opera House, and he collaborated on one of the first livre d’ artistes to be produced in the United Kingdom since William Morris, a work that is now in rare book collections. He later earned Master of Arts with Honours and PhD degrees from the University of New England. He is a Writing Fellow of the Fellowship of Australian Writers (NSW).
Stormbird Press books
Interview with Jeremy Gadd
SP: You live in Sydney now, but where are you from?
JG: I grew up in Armidale in Northern New South Wales. It was a sleepy, relatively isolated rural community in the 1960s but, as a child, I was allowed to roam the bush by myself. I came into contact with native flora and fauna from an early age and my appreciation was stimulated accordingly. Birdlife was prolific then and we had family holidays which involved driving to the coast on dirt roads, through the rain forests ringing with bell-birds around Dorrigo Mountain down to the Bellingen River, Coffs Harbour, Valla Beach, Sawtell or Grafton. We often camped near the waterholes and wild rivers or went cray-bobbing in murky dams. My imagination was stirred during nights listening to stories beside a glowing fire or staring into an infinity of stars.
SP: How did you become involved with the subject or theme of your book?
I lived in Europe for several years and, on returning to Australia, was determined to see and learn more about my country. For several years, my then wife and I made annual three month long road trips to tropical northern Australia and lived under canvas while doing so. We would explore remote regions, including the Gulf Country and The Kimberley, and I would make notes about incidents or places. On returning home, the notes would become short stories. One story grew into the novel The Suicide Season. It was on these research trips that I became aware of the threats to Australia’s bio-diversity.
SP: What cultural value do you see in storytelling?
I see huge value but I despair that traditional Australian culture is being undermined and negated by the current education system—which teaches that an advertisement is of the same literary value as a Shakespearean text; that there is little value in studying novels or poetry. In a society in which someone considers them self a Samoan Australian, Greek Australian, Indian or Chinese Australian, what is Australian culture? Even Australian geography is rarely taught. I was prompted to write a poem on the subject:
WHAT IS THE POINT
What is the point of studying a language,
its grammar, its verse-forms, of immersing
one-self in its literary traditions, when the
cultural identity it represents is being
constantly undermined by elements opposed
to its existence? If a culture is the collective
ideas, customs and social behaviour of a particular
people or society, what is the point of trying
to perpetuate a tradition when the shared values
it represents are deliberately being eroded?
The point is that cultures are continuing constructions,
requiring constant nurturing to survive and,
if they don’t receive it, they fall. Knowing this,
I metaphorically scratch this graffito on Time’s wall.
© Jeremy Gadd 2018
SP: How does your book relate to your spiritual practice or other life path?
JG: I believe humanity has an obligation to the planet and to other species—if only for the legacy we leave to our descendants—to preserve as well as produce. The Suicide Season tries to draw attention—both in its references to CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species 1973) and, in a more subliminal way, through its plot and its descriptions of nature—to the need to be environmentally aware, and of the need to preserve the natural environment that provides homes to native species. The Suicide Season alludes to the majesty of nature and to humanity’s increasingly precarious relationship with the environment.
SP: What were goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you have achieved them?
JG: The goal was to publicise the threat to Australia’s wildlife represented by world-wide criminal groups in an entertaining, non-hectoring way, and I feel that, by illustrating the awful process associated with poaching, related within the construct of a larger story told with drama and humour, this has been accomplished. Perhaps some perceptive movie director will decide to film The Suicide Season and thus introduce many more people to the danger poaching represents to indigenous animals and birds.