Lech Blaine on ‘Car Crash’: First Book Club

The Kill Your Darlings Podcast
The Kill Your Darlings Podcast
Lech Blaine on 'Car Crash': First Book Club

I wanted to dig into the complexity of an event like that, and allow people to see not just the humanity of the people involved, but also the negative aspects of how these events play out.’

Each month we celebrate an Australian debut release of fiction or non-fiction in the Kill Your Darlings First Book Club. For May that debut is Car Crash: A Memoir by Lech Blaine, out now from Black Inc.

At seventeen, Lech Blaine walked away unharmed from a car crash that killed three of his friends and left two in comas. In the aftermath, rumours about speed and drink driving erupted. There was intense scrutiny from media and police. Lech used alcohol to numb his grief and social media to show stoicism, while secretly spiralling towards depression and disgrace. This is a riveting account of family, friendship, grief and love after tragedy. Heartbreaking and darkly hilarious, Car Crash is a story for our times.

First Book Club host Ellen Cregan spoke with Lech about the book, revisiting past trauma and the power of brutally honest feedback.

Editor’s Note: This conversation touches on difficult topics such as death, grief and trauma.

Our theme song is Broke for Free’s ‘Something Elated’. Production assistance from Lloyd Pratt.

Further reading:

Read Ellen Cregan’s review of Car Crash in our May Books Roundup.

Lech spoke to Bri Lee in 2017 about the process of writing a memoir in your twenties.

Lech recommends Rick Morton’s My Year of Living Vulnerably: Rick shares his workspace and writing practice for Show Your Working.

Buy a copy of the book from Brunswick Bound.

Stream or subscribe: Apple Podcasts / Soundcloud / Google Podcasts / Spotify / Other (RSS)

Let us know what you think by rating and reviewing in your app of choice!



Alice Cottrell: Welcome back to the Kill Your Darlings podcast. I’m KYD publisher Alice Cottrell, and today I’ll be bringing you our May First Book Club interview. Our pick this month as Car Crash by Lech Blaine, out now from Black Inc. At seventeen, Lech walked away unharmed from a car crash that killed three of his friends, and left two in comas. In the aftermath, rumours about speed and drink driving erupted; there was intense scrutiny from media and police. Lech used alcohol to numb his grief and social media to show stoicism, while secretly spiralling towards depression and disgrace. This powerful memoir is an account of family, friendship, grief and love after tragedy. First Book Club host Ellen Cregan spoke with Lech to ask him about the book.

Ellen Cregan: Hi Lech, thanks for joining me today.

Lech Blaine: Hey, how you doing?

Ellen Cregan: Good, thanks. So we’re going to start with a reading from the very start of the book to begin.

Lech Blaine: No worries. So this is from Act 1, Chapter 1, called ‘Black Hole in the High Beams’.

There were seven of us: Five in the car and two in the boot. We were alive together for the final time. It was quarter to ten on a Saturday night, May 2009—the Labour Day long weekend.

The trip kicked off in the sticks north of Toowoomba, ninety minutes west of Brisbane. I’d shotgunned the front passenger seat of the 1989 gold Ford Fairlane. I was short and soft-bodied with a black mop, a poet moonlighting as a hoon.

Tim sat back middle. He was broad-shouldered and short-haired like Will, back right. Henry was in the seat behind me, tall and thin. He had the same blond hair and blue eyes as Dom, the driver. Hamish—pale and lanky, with thick black hair—was in the boot with Nick, brown hair above a squat frame.

It was our final year of high school. Tim and I went to St Mary’s, a Catholic factory of athletes in the western suburbs, The others went to Downlands, an elite co-educational school on Toowoomba’s north side.

Up front there was nothing between the road and me except the windscreen and thin air. The speakers blasted ‘Wonderwall’ by Oasis, an elegy inside a singalong. My memory is a blinking mix of lyrics belted out incoherently and the stink of alcohol, sweat and cigarettes—a million things and nothing in particular.

We stopped at a new set of traffic lights. To our left was the city. To our right was Highfields, one of the fastest-growing subdivisions in carved-up country. Nuclear families hid from chaos on quarter-acre sanctuaries, safe from talkback-fuelled rumours of refugee gangs and possible mosques.

When the lights blazed green, we turned left onto the New England Highway. The speedometer rose: 60, 70, 80, 90. Streetlamps streaked by. The road, half-lit and disappearing, burnt a blur into my brain.

My brand-new iPhone vibrated. A message from Frida. Our courtship was at a critical phase—tomorrow afternoon, we were going to the movies before a party at a mansion on the Great Dividing Range.

There was a swift change in our direction. My gaze shifted between the competing sheets of glass. We’d drifted onto the left-hand shoulder of the highway. The back tyre drifted from the road, spinning out in the mouth of a gravel driveway.

This was the split second of our unravelling.

Dom reefed on the steering wheel, a knee-jerk attempt to regain control. We slid in, out and in again. He’d overcorrected an overcorrection. A stream of images flickered in the windscreen. Road half-lit by headlights. Windscreen filled with branches and leaves belonging to the median strip. A dark front yard at the start of a farm.

It took us three seconds to travel from the gravel back to the maze of nature. The Fairlane ploughed to the wrong side of the highway. By rights I should’ve been the bullseye, but the vehicle scraped a tree stump within the median strip, spinning us another ninety degrees.

Screams howled from the back seat as we flew into a flood of high beams. I’m dead, I thought. Then it hit: Another car, speed meeting speed, like two protons colliding.

I didn’t get the luxury of a concussion. There was a glimpse of black as my head reeled from soft impact against the dashboard. After that, everything went berserk. Liquids pissed from engines. Radiators hissed with steam. Car alarms out-screamed one another. Wipers whipped across the shattered windscreen.

The bonnet blocked vision of what we’d hit. A sticky fluid pooled around my ankles. I’ve pissed myself, I thought. My hairy toes floated in the foam from a six-pack of beers. I wiped blood that wasn’t mine onto the sleeve of a new jumper and searched frantically for my iPhone, finding it down beside the seat adjuster.

Sick sounds issued from the lips of four friends in the grip of oblivion. Dom lay face-down on the steering wheel. The back seat was a mess of erect necks and flaccid limbs. I reached out and shook Tim’s arm, calmly and then more urgently.

‘Oi!’, I yelled. ‘Wake up!’

This will go down as the loneliest moment of my life.

Ellen Cregan: Thanks so much for that Lech, that that was really great.

Lech Blaine: No worries.

Ellen Cregan: So, I feel like we got a pretty good introduction with that reading, but how can you, can you summarise this book for the people who haven’t read it yet, who are listening?

Lech Blaine: Yeah, so it’s a book about a car accident that I survived when I was 17, in 2009. I was…in my final year of high school, I was travelling in a car with six others, six of my mates, and we were travelling back to Toowoomba. The driver, who was sober and under the speed limit, drifted off the highway and the back tyres spun out in a driveway. He overcorrected that, then overcorrected again and then overcorrected again. And in, yeah, within the space of, a very short space of time, we’d, we’d crossed the median strip and crossed to the other side of the highway and been collected by an oncoming car. So, yeah, and three of my friends died following the accident, another friend suffered a permanent brain injury, another mate went into a coma, he had a pretty miraculous recovery. And then the driver, he suffered serious injuries, but was…did not suffer any any sort of brain injury. So he was he was back at school pretty quickly. I walked away from the accident without any injuries. So, yeah, I was I was basically unscathed, at least physically.

Ellen Cregan: I think in that first chapter, having read the whole book myself, there are so many sort of great sentences that, that really give you a taste of what is to come, like the sentence at the very start that you read, I think it’s the second sentence, ‘we are alive together for the final time,’ that’s just so harrowing and so clear and clean, and…I just thought that was just a really great piece of writing. But then you also have another sentence, I’m just sort of rifling through my book here…

(Both laugh)

Ellen Cregan: Um, ‘I didn’t get the luxury of a concussion,’ because further on into the book, you know, this is really a book about the fact that you did walk away, and how that affected you and everything going on around you, and how that kind of shaped you. So can you talk a little bit more about that, how this experience, and your particular experience of it came to shape you in those in those years that followed?

Lech Blaine: Yeah, it’s like, there’s two layers to it, which is the, you know, immediate trauma that I suffered from the accident, and that sort of concerns the grief of losing my, my mates, and just the trauma of having witnessed their injuries, and pretty heavy shellshock, which then sort of started to thaw, and yeah, the trauma that I suffered sort of thawed into a, into a depression by the time I started university in the following year. And then the second layer of…of this, like, event was just who I was as a person leading into the event, and the issues of identity and family and the sort of stuff that anyone who picks up the book is going to relate to. There was all these other things that were sort of in motion at that time, and… And so the accident caused, yeah, really significant trauma and led to an episode of pretty heavy depression, my first year out of school. But it also forced me to confront who I was as a person, just like the basic questions of identity and, and the sort of questions that everyone asks but we don’t really get forced a lot of the time to confront them, either until we’re much older, or some people just never confront them. So it wasn’t…it was obviously a horrific event, but it’s not just all horror. There is just a lot of coming to terms with myself, and coming to terms with my family, and coming to terms with the limitations that I faced. But yeah, also just all the all the normal emotions of like, love and, and, and the emotions triggered by being young and forming new friendships. And, yeah, that all happens within the space of, you know, the terrible grief and trauma that I suffered after the accident itself.

Ellen Cregan: And this is a really well-developed sort of reflection on all of that stuff, like the growing up, and as you say, it is framed by this, this trauma and grief, but growing up, coming to terms with, you know, mental health problems that have stemmed from that. But what was it like now, you know, writing this sort of a decade after the fact, really revisiting all of those trials in such intense detail, as you have to do when you’re writing about something?

Lech Blaine: Yeah, it was…(Laughs) I mean, it was, it was harrowing.

Ellen Cregan: Yeah.

Lech Blaine: Harrowing in the sense of like, the trauma, obviously, and the grief and confronting that again. But just, I guess because of the intensity of those emotions, the level of perfectionism that I had when I approached the writing, which just wasn’t healthy, and that’s, it took me a long time to write the book. I had other stuff going on as well, which had nothing to do with writing, which sort of got in the way. But yeah, I just, I had impossible expectations on myself in terms of, um, being able to articulate the experience, and bringing to it, you know, (Laughs) a perfectionism that was just, like, unattainable.

Ellen Cregan: Yeah.

Lech Blaine: So it took me, it really took me until like, I literally finished the manuscript, and so, like, from start to finish it was over five years. And yeah, like that had an upside in terms of, like, the attention to detail in terms of the prose, but yeah, if I was to start it again, I wouldn’t—well, I guess I could only learn that from writing it, but yeah, like, it was just, it was it was hard work. (Laughs) Like on two levels, obviously, on the personal level and also on the literary level.

Ellen Cregan: Yeah, I can, I can imagine. You kind of anticipated my next question just then as well. I was going to ask you about the book’s journey to publication, because this did start life as not a book manuscript, I believe. Can you tell me about how it started from you thinking you wanted to write about this, to the, the book that it is today?

Lech Blaine: Yeah, I wrote a… what is like the first chapter now, I wrote a 10,000-word piece which I submitted for the Scribe Young Writers Non-fiction Prize in 2016. And yeah, that was…it’s basically a longer version of what is now the first chapter, and so that, I submitted that, I got shortlisted for that, and then I was literally down in Melbourne for the, for the event and did some cool stuff with like, Scribe and with the other writers. And then I got an email while I was down there from, from the publisher at the time at Black Inc named Aviva Tuffield, and she, she just asked me to send her a copy. And I’d literally never had any contact with, you know, anyone from like, the literary or the publishing world outside of the Scribe thing. So yeah, it was pretty, it’s pretty surreal, and then within like a few weeks I think, I had signed a deal with Black Inc, which was like…both, you know, amazing to have that opportunity, but I just, I just had no idea what I was really getting myself in for.

Ellen Cregan: (Laughs).

Lech Blaine: And yeah, like maybe, maybe I could only really learn that by, you know, signing the deal. And then I told people about it…not straight away, but by the end of that year, and then, and I guess I wanted people to know, because it was going to affect a lot of people. And so, I just sort of put it out there and then, yeah, I moved away from the—I was running a motel in Bundaberg, I moved away from there to try and write this book, I was aiming to do it in like six months or something, and then I just literally didn’t write anything for it for three months.

Ellen Cregan: Yep.

Lech Blaine: So it was just like, industrial strength writer’s block mixed up with, like, an awful sense of, like, survivor’s guilt for not just having survived the crash, but then having, yeah, like, written a book, like, started to write a book about it. And after that, at that point I was like, what else am I going to say about this event outside of what I’ve already said, which was really just my sort of like, ah…my instinctive memories with a little bit more cladding. And so all the other stuff was actually in a way more difficult to write about, because I had to put a lot more, like, thought into it.

Ellen Cregan: Yeah, because that first chapter is very, it’s extremely evocative, and I think that as the book goes on, it does change tone a bit. It’s not so much, you know, of course the book is called Car Crash, so that’s how we’re going to start in this, in this moment that you did go through. But, yeah, you do kind of go into a little bit more of, you’re able to, like, deep dive more into the, to the things that happened after, and the after-effects, like the aftershocks that went for many years.

Lech Blaine: Yeah, yeah. And it loosens up, the tone does change a bit, like, it moves through different emotional terrain. There’s still, like, a few scenes that are pretty, like, visceral, but nothing quite the same as that. And so, yeah, I didn’t really, like, I didn’t really go into it with a plan of like…

Ellen Cregan: Yep.

Lech Blaine: I just wrote the thing that happened, and, and then basically my editors just thought that that was the best place to start the book, which was, like, a little bit unconventional because, yeah, there’s not really any…there’s not really any leadup or like, setting of character or anything, so all that happens after, after the event basically. And then, yeah, there’s all, there’s the family story and my early childhood and that sort of then links back up with the narrative of how I met these guys who I was in the accident with, and then that links up with the narrative of going back to high school and falling in love for the first time, and going to Schoolies week, and then, yeah, links back up again with the narrative of my parents. So, yeah, it’s sort of like shifting, shifts a little bit. But in terms of the, I had some extremely good editors who really pared it back, even from the proof that went out to booksellers to the final edition I think was, had dropped 50 pages. And so it just meant that it doesn’t, it doesn’t feel like you’re it doesn’t feel like it’s shifting as much as maybe what that sounds like. It’s sort of, yeah, it’s, I think that… Yeah, a lot of the, a lot of the fat and the connective tissue sort of just got cut, and it just leaves like a pretty, pretty lean sort of book.

Ellen Cregan: So you’ve had a lot of really supportive words on these cover quotes, you’ve got Tim Winton and Trent Dalton, who are two really big authors, but you’ve also had some feedback that you posted on social media from Helen Garner. Can I ask you about that feedback and what it’s been like to have that kind of brutal assessment, but also obviously her support?

Lech Blaine: Oh, it was awesome! It was like, exhilarating, oh yeah.

Ellen Cregan: So she called you, like, ‘pompous’ and…(Laughs)

Lech Blaine: Yeah, yeah, it came from a place of like, like love, I think. So…

Ellen Cregan: Oh, yeah, absolutely.

Lech Blaine: Yeah. Like it, like it was, yeah, I was stoked, like, to get it. And it just meant that from the point of the, as I said, from the proof that went out to the, um, to the book on the shelf, it just, it just removed a bit more of that, that fat. And yeah, it was an incredible gift to, to, for her to even read the book. And yeah, I saw it as, like…(Laughs) like, it’s awesome. It was amazing to get, it was amazing to get those endorsements as well, but, yeah, I guess she was just offering something different, which was, like, also like a massive gift in its own way, which was to, to not see the book just for what it was at that time, but to go, oh, you can actually take this a little bit further. And here’s some, like, advice from someone who’s written so many amazing books, and who was such a big influence on the book itself. And so, yeah, I didn’t…as much as, and yeah, you can’t get more brutal feedback than that…

Ellen Cregan: (Laughs)

Lech Blaine: Like as much as that was like, yeah, people were like messaging me, like they were quite worried about me, but…

Ellen Cregan: Oh no!

Lech Blaine: Yeah, no. I was like, no, that’s like—because especially when, and some of the stuff was stuff that like my editors had been, my editor Julia and my publisher Chris had both been sort of trying to get me to see, and maybe just, both because of the timing, like when you’re writing a book and you’re editing it there’s so much else going on. And then this was just like at the final finish line. And so when it arrived, I just had a bit more clarity and I was a bit less precious about where I was at. And so I got that feedback at like exactly the right time, and it just meant that, I just removed—like, another another thing she kept saying was like, you’re like, ‘you’re being a smartarse.’

Ellen Cregan: (Laughs)

Lech Blaine: And in hindsight, I totally see what I was doing, because a lot of it was left over from when I first started writing the book in 2016, and when I wasn’t really part of like a literary community, I had a big chip on my shoulder about that. And so I was trying to prove through my prose that I, that I was, you know, a smart literary writer. And so it was just…it wasn’t, it might not even be as noticeable as what it sounds, but like it was just these little flourishes where, that I’d subconsciously put in there to be like, oh, you know, ‘this is a literary book.’ And yeah, it was such a such a beautiful thing to do, which was to just like remove a bunch of those moments and flourishes and things that might gradually, it might be very subtle when you isolate them, but gradually sort of just block other kinds of readers from, you know, emotionally connecting with the book. It was sort of saying that the book wasn’t maybe for them. And so the, one of the amazing things about the feedback I’ve had so far, like beyond, you know, getting amazing endorsements, is just people reaching out and saying that they haven’t read a book in 10 years or, you know, they’ve never, they can’t remember reading a book, and that they, but that they’ve totally emotionally invested in this book and that it really resonated with them. And like, that’s… Yeah, that’s like, just an incredible thing to be able to to achieve. Especially for a book like this, which, it isn’t just like a closed-off literary document, as much as I sort of conceived it that way when I started writing it—like it does, it does, it’s about an event that affects a lot of people, and not all of them went to uni and did creative writing degrees or read literary fiction. And like, I don’t mean that in a patronising way, like I think that it’s amazing to be able to both…let them into the book, and in some ways, I think that actually makes it even more like a literary document than, than if, than if I hadn’t have done that.

Ellen Cregan: Absolutely. And that’s that’s quite beautiful as well, that for the, for yourself of five years ago, who maybe did feel sensitive about not being a part of that literary world, that these are the people, that you’re having people reach out to you now who, who feel included by this book…

Lech Blaine: Yeah.

Ellen Cregan: Because it’s not super flourishy. That’s kind of like a nice closing of the circle there.

Lech Blaine: Yeah. Yeah, and it’s all, it all happened like very quickly, like in, like at that final finish line, where I had the, like, I didn’t have much time to think about it, but basically yeah, got some, got this they feedback, which was super blunt. And that was, like, that was perfect. And I was just, yeah, I didn’t think, I couldn’t afford to think about it much because, like, my deadline was so soon. And so…

Ellen Cregan: Yep.

Lech Blaine: We took it, like, right to the wire in terms of being able to actually get the book on the shelves…

Ellen Cregan: (Laughs)

Lech Blaine: For the for the release date and stuff. So yeah, it was, but I, yeah—I don’t know, I’m, I’m, I’m stoked about how it all ended up. And I’ve got like, as I said, my editor Julia was incredibly patient with me over a long period of time. Chris would come in occasionally and provide some sort of more macro sort of feedback and then, yeah, to get that final little push from, from someone like Helen. And, you know, there was like a bunch of other people along the way who just provided feedback or, or offered…offered support at different stages. Because it was over five years, like, I did a mentorship with Kris Olsson, which was incredible. I got some feedback from, on an earlier draft of the book from a writer from Brissy named Laura Elvery, who’s an incredible writer, and a writer that I really respect. And then, yeah, just like I sent drafts to like, mates. The earliest drafts I sent to mates. And the actual very first…(Laughs) the very first iteration of, that went to, into the Scribe prize, I forgot to mention this before, was actually, was actually I got editorial feedback on that from, from Kill Your Darlings.

Ellen Cregan: Oh hey! (Laughs) Shout out.

Lech Blaine: Yeah, so it’s like, yeah, it was there for so long and I can, as I said, I didn’t really think of myself as part of a literary community when I first started writing the book, but obviously I belong to one now, because, like, I’ve got, I’ve got so much amazing support from people that I really admire as people, but also just really respect as like writers as well.

Ellen Cregan: Yeah, that’s it’s nice to have that kind of support around the book. So you have had a really big launch, I have to say. You’ve had, like, heaps of great media and you’ve had, you know, you’ve been doing interviews like what we’re doing now. But in the book you talk a lot about after the crash, about the quite negative media that was around what happened to you. And like, pretty unfair and pretty horrific in some cases. Can you talk a bit about that media that, that followed the crash, and how it’s been, sort of, how it’s felt for you to be going through a bit of a media cycle again, but in such a different way?

Lech Blaine: Yeah, it’s a great paradox. And I have like, like I’m not unconscious to like, the hypocrisy of writing about that in the book and then…or experiencing that as a teenager and then writing a book about this event, and then thereby subjecting myself to the, exactly the same sort of, um, you know, business model as what produced all of the, all the unsavoury aspects of sensationalism the first time around. So that’s quite a thing for me to unpack, and I still unpack that, like, on a daily basis. And yeah, it makes me a bit uncomfortable. And that comes up all the time. And me feeling, not—like, it’s one thing for me to subject myself to, to that, but it’s another thing for me to subject all of these people who were affected by the event originally to that. And so that’s, like, that’s really tough. The thing for me that…yeah, the thing that made publishing the book outweigh my fear of, of, you know, causing all of that to happen again was that I thought that the book would offer a complex picture of the people involved, that I don’t think that happened the first time around. And that’s not because of any particular malice to the journalists, like, it’s just a completely different form to a newspaper article like you, you do, it doesn’t sort of aggregate…aggregate the characters in a way that, like, a newspaper article needs to. Like you only have a certain amount of space. So, yeah, I guess I wanted to dig into the complexity not just of the characters, but to the emotional experience of an event like that, and allow people to see not just the humanity of the people involved, but also, like, the negative aspects of how these events play out, and the way that affects people who are involved. So, yeah, there’s no, it’s like, it’s complicated and super messy. And I can’t say whether, like, at this stage, whether the positives outweigh the negatives. I think that they do, I think they will, of, yeah. I’ve spoken to the driver Dom about it quite a bit, and even like a week ago, and he sort of said, I’m really glad that you did this. And he’s always been really supportive. But he like, he was just offering a fresh perspective on the basis of all of this stuff sort of being out there. And he was like, it feels like a weight is lifted. And that’s not because it provides some sort of forensic exoneration for him, although it does offer that in, in some ways. But like, that was already in the public sphere to some degree when he got let off in court. But I think what he meant was more about just the personalities of the people involved, like, it felt like it was really giving him like an identity that it probably didn’t feel like he had in the midst of, of, of the media shitstorm back at the time.

Ellen Cregan: And this book really is a very complex book, and it gives the reader a lot of space to understand the different factors in each person’s life. And, you know, how things might have been for them after, because of all of the things that were happening around them, because of the culture they were living in. Whereas a newspaper article is kind of just like, three facts, and it leaves a lot of space for the reader to then let their mind run away with whatever they think happened. So it’s a nice way to to talk about something like this that is, you know, it happens in communities all around the world, and not everybody gets to have a conversation like this, in the form that you’ve presented it in.

Lech Blaine: Yeah, and obviously I can’t, I couldn’t possibly either both ethically and just, like it would, it would be impossible to do justice to it. But I couldn’t give every single character in the book, like, the complexity of the of the narrator, which is me. But I think that through the complexity that, even through the complexity that I’ve created for myself that allows… Yeah, you build that idea about each person, that they are like the, like, so complex and that they are the sum of all of these different experiences, and that there’s all of this other stuff going on behind the scenes for every single person in that accident. And that’s like—even my story, that’s really the tip of the iceberg. And so it’s not so much, as I said, I couldn’t do justice to everyone else, but, and that’s not my story to tell. But I think that, yeah, I think that it does, at least within my own experience, show the importance of relationships and human contact. And I don’t think that I do that to try and say oh, like, if you get help or if you open up to people, everything’s going to be okay—like, it’s a lot more, it’s a lot harder than that. But it does show that there is like, that there is like a way out of, of these emotions, and a way out of these experiences when you actually allow other people to, to share the burden.

Ellen Cregan: And I think that this book, like many other books about a great tragedy, sort of end up, it ends up being about love, really. Like it is, there’s a lot of sadness in this book, but it really is a lot about love, and like, familial love, the love between friends and all other kinds, you know.

Lech Blaine: Mmm.

Ellen Cregan: I’ve got time for one more question, which is…

Lech Blaine: Yeah.

Ellen Cregan: You know, after we’ve been in this, this quite deep and dark conversation, is going to be very light and a bit silly.

Lech Blaine: (Laughs).

Ellen Cregan: So, not silly. For the people listening who have read your book and really enjoyed it, what would you recommend they read next if they haven’t?

Lech Blaine: Oh, if they haven’t, if they haven’t read it already, I’ve just read Rick Morton’s My Year of Living Vulnerably, which is sort of like…(Laughs) Yeah, it might be, it might be too similar similar in some ways, it’s like, written by a guy who’s from south-west Queensland, and a book about trauma and—but yeah, it’s, it’s such a…like he, it’s his second—third book, and so his first book was like mine, like a pretty visceral depiction of certain experiences, both similar and in some ways, like, very different. And then this this book that he’s written is, it sort of takes a lot, sort of, a broader approach. It brings other people’s experiences into it, it looks through, like, the literature and the psychology of, of these experiences, and sort of expounds on his own experiences in a, in just such like a really thoughtful and well-written way.

Ellen Cregan: And I love to see authors giving each other shout outs at the time, when their books are published at the same time. That’s very nice.

Lech Blaine: (Laughs) Yeah, no, I…(Crosstalk)

Ellen Cregan: I think you guys had the same week?

Lech Blaine: Yeah, I think he was like two weeks earlier. Yeah, I went to, he came to my book launch and I went to his book launch and he’s, yeah, he’s such a great bloke, and I don’t, (Laughs) I don’t feel weird about that at all.

Ellen Cregan: Yeah, well, that’s a literary community! (Laughs).

Lech Blaine: Exactly, like, yeah. But yeah, the zero-sum sort of thinking of, like, the competitiveness that sometimes comes into like, and I, and I understand where that comes from because, you know, a lot of people are doing it really tough, especially in the arts, but yeah, like this, it can only be an advantage to have like, people working together within that space and people who are connecting and, you know, that’s going to get people to pick up books that they might not have otherwise picked up, like, it’s not like, you know, there’s not, obviously for people who read books all the time there’s, you have certain choices to make, but there’s a whole heap of people who could be reading, picking up more books, and so that should be the aim is to get more people writing, not sort of yeah, fighting over the scraps.

Ellen Cregan: I think that’s a beautiful note to end on. Thank you so much for joining me today, Lech. And if you’re listening and you haven’t read this book yet, go out and buy it or borrow it, and then recommend it to all your friends, because it’s a really wonderful and powerful read. Thank you again, Lech. And have a lovely day.

Lech Blaine: No worries at all, thanks for having me.


Alice Cottrell: That was the May First Book Club edition of the Kill Your Darlings podcast. We’ll be back soon, but while you’re waiting, you should drop in on the KYD website for new commentary, criticism, memoir, interviews and reviews. If you’re in a position to, please consider supporting KYD by becoming a member. You’ll receive exclusive access to members-only content, as well as heaps of great perks and discounts, while also supporting independent Australian publishing. Thanks for joining us, see you next time.