Posted by: Lisa Hill | July 11, 2014

Meet an Aussie Author: Jared Thomas

Jared Thomas

Dr Jared Thomas is a Nukunu man from the Southern Flinders Ranges and author of Calypso Summer which I reviewed a short while ago for Indigenous Literature Week / NAIDOC Week 2014.   His profile at the Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature Project shows that he is an author with an inspiring background.  He was an average student for most of his school days, but was inspired to write by a school excursion to the Adelaide Fringe Festival in 1992 when he saw the play Funerals and Circuses by Aboriginal playwright Roger Bennett.  He had some hurdles to overcome but began by writing plays, short fiction and poetry, with publication in anthologies over time. His play Flash Red Ford went on tour in Uganda and Kenya in 1999 and Love, Land and Money was featured during the 2002 Adelaide Fringe Festival.

His career as a novelist began in 2001 with Sweet Guy.  It was published in 2005 by IAD Press and short listed in the Victorian Premier’s Literature Awards in 2006, and in the 2009 South Australian People’s Choice Awards for Literature.   A children’s novel Dallas Davis, the Scientist and the City Kids (2011) is published in the Yarning Strong series (OUP). His latest novel Calypso Summer (2014) won the 2013 State Library of Queensland Black&Write Fellowship.  It was published this year by Magabala Books.

Currently working as an Arts Development Officer at Arts South Australia, Jared took time out from his busy schedule to participate in Meet an Aussie Author.

1. I was born in Port Augusta on February 4, 1976. Mum and Dr Devinder Grewel talked about the cricket while she was in labour. It was the fourth day of the sixth test between Australia and the West Indies.  Australia won by 165 runs.

2. When I was a child I wrote stories about protecting the bush land around and salt lake adjacent my home. I also wrote about protecting the ocean. I was fascinated by the Barrier Reef, which is a whole world away from the arid and coastal environment in which I grew up.

3. There have been many people that have encouraged and inspired me to write including the playwrights Roger Bennett and Cathy Cragie and my Grandfather Jim Fitzpatrick. I think it’s important as a writer to have a good support crew and I’ve been fortunate to have many wonderful mentors over the years. There’s always someone to look up to.

4. I write in cafés , on the train, in my study and in the car whenever someone else is driving.

5. I write whenever I get time away from work and family commitments.  It’s my pleasure.

6. Research is striving to name and understand every entity I am surrounded by and describing the characteristics of people I encounter.

7. I keep my published works on the shelves of friends and relatives that like to pretend I’m famous.

8. On the day my first book was published I celebrated by listening to Paul Kelly as I headed to the coast for a surf.

9. At the moment I am working on, ‘Songs that Sound like Blood.’ It’s about the challenges that can exist for Aboriginal tertiary students and the need to maintain opportunities for people independent of their wealth to be able to pursue their interests and make the most of their talents. The story focuses on a young Aboriginal woman, Roxy May Redding who wants to be a recording artist.

10. When I’m stuck for an idea, word or phrase I exercise or meditate and trust that it will come to me.  Sometimes I just choose five words relating to place, activity, colour and smell and start writing about them. It unlocks the subconscious and before I know it I’m back in the groove.

You can buy Jared’s books at Fishpond:

Calypso Summer
Sweet Guy
Dallas Davis, the Scientist and the City Kids (Yarning Strong Series)

or direct from the publishers (click the link on the publisher’s names above)

Thanks for participating, Jared!

Update: 28/7/18 I have just read Jared’s contribution to Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia(edited by Anita Heiss) and I urge you to access this exceptional book and learn more about Jared’s background.

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  1. As you know, I love these slices of author’s lives. My favourite quote here is “On the day my first book was published I celebrated by listening to Paul Kelly as I headed to the coast for a surf.” How wonderfully Australian that sounds. And I love that idea of writing around five relevant words to unlock the mind. I might just give that a try.


    • *chuckle* I just checked back at your entry in Meet an Aussie Author to see what you did on the day your first book was published and I see that champagne was involved! I think that’s very Australian too:)


  2. […] Calypso Summer by Jared Thomas (see my review, and find out more about the author at Meet an Aussie Author) […]


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