a little about the author -/+
writing into the sea -/+
After toddlerhood on a sheep farm in the mountain ranges of New South Wales, none of which I can remember, I grew up in the 70s in a suburb of Sydney with my parents and a large tribe of siblings. The trips to the nearest beach on the weekend or up the coast to a rented fibro shack for Summer holidays were high points and the start of an enduring affinity with the sea.
Then we moved interstate to South Australia as the teenage years neared. New town, new school, new faces and distant surf beaches with freezing water. So started a serious period of beachlessness that would in time be made up for during uni days with a wetsuit (in 80s pastels), friends equally up for putting waves before lectures and cars spluttering along, needles never more than a degree or two above empty.
At first we ventured to the mid coast, quickly graduating to the south coast and then it was on to the State’s wild west coasts. A few years down the track, bar and factory work money in hand, came travels to the warmer water of the eastern States for the long Summer holidays. Then came my first overseas surf trip to Hawaii, Mexico and Africa and the seed was forever sown.
Some time later, my girlfriend (now wife) and I decided to move States for a while. After getting side tracked in the South Pacific for a year and a half crewing on yachts, hitching on cargo boats and exploring the islands between Tahiti and New Zealand and spending mostly terrific, but occasionally alarming, times in the elements and with an evolving spectrum of interesting people, we finally ended up in Western Australia.
Since then I’ve continued to roam coastlines all over the place in and outside Australia, recording adventures in journals by hand. I live near the sea in Western Australia with my wife, our two young children and our alert eared Kelpie/Huntaway and get in it whenever I can. Into the Sea is my first novel.
How it started:
After a sailing trip to remote parts of Indonesia with a couple of friends looking for waves to ride, I recorded that trip in a journal as usual. When I finished writing it mid morning one day in Winter, beanied head still wet from the freezing early surf and cold sandy feet jammed into flimsy slippers picked up from a hotel somewhere along the way, I found myself with a blank sheet of paper writing the first words of the book that would eventually become Into the Sea.
I had always hoped to write a novel and had made notes from time to time over the years but it was not something I had specifically planned. Once I’d started though, the book seemed to take on a life of its own and before long I was absorbed. The first words have evolved and are now a little deeper into the novel but they are still very much there.
Where it happened:
Soon after starting the book in Western Australia, my family and I went back to French Polynesia in the South Pacific for a few months and saw old friends, mountains and motus. I wrote on verandahs in the midday heat and in the cooler evenings, with more discipline than I would have believed and a host of foreign insects throwing themselves at the light of the screen. The rest of the novel was written in the Margaret River region of Western Australia, where we were based on our return. The sea was irresistibly distracting at times but, as always, gave perspective and fresh ideas.
Settings, breaks and characters:
Places I’ve lived in and travelled to have been drawn on for some of the settings of the novel. I’ve deliberately kept them mostly unnamed. I hope readers will enjoy imagining the places and perhaps re-experience some of their own unique beaches, suburbs, deserts or island times. The surf breaks described in the book are all real but, for the most part, I haven’t named them either, in part out of respect for travellers who journey long distances to find them. The characters are fictional.
Join on us Facebook, subscribe to our e-newsletter or read our blog
>> Click the image to view the gallery
Listen to an interview with Jay