Home' LOTL : August 2005 Contents 24
FOR A STRUGGLING AUTHOR,
TRAVELLING NORTH WAS A LEAP
OF FAITH THAT PAID OFF.
BY DAWN COHEN.
Black Dragon's Byron Bay dinner party
has changed Jesse Blackadder 's life. At
41, after a decade of trying to get
published, Blackadder is now signing
autographs at the Byron Bay Writers
Festival for After the Party, her novel of
sea-changers looking for themselves and
finding each other.
But Blackadder, her real name, does not
identify with Black Dragon, the
omnisexual feng shui consultant who
leads her tale.
"I didn't notice the name thing with Black
Dragon until a few months ago," she says
over a morning hit of caffeine at the
coastal village's central hub, the Beach
Hotel. The similarities are there,
After the Party is a masterpiece of
seduction. The reader's every need is
recognised and stroked from spiritual
longing, to belly laugh to zipless fuck.
There is a fast-paced rhythm in the
writing, as compelling as a confident
Like any feng shui expert, Blackadder
balances action with insight, creating a
satisfying experience of motion and
depth. The balance is most perfectly
stuck in Blackadder 's handling of the
spiritual philosophy underpinning After
the Party -- the mystery link between
seemingly unrelated events and people.
The message is both subtle and vivid,
containing and exciting.
But it's the descriptive imagery that
transforms the work beyond the
competent to the edges of awe. The
originality of her descriptions is as
startling as the juicy octopus, so
fresh it seems to wriggle in a character 's
mouth. Everything pulsates with life,
from the whales, to the cane toads to
buildings and dust.
"The imagery has changed very little
from the first draft, whereas all the
character stuff I have re-written five
million times," she says. "I have always
kept a journal and it's much more likely
to be a stream of consciousness about
images than anything else."
Where does the originality come from?
"From the part of me that lets me know I
have to write. Most writers will know
what I mean. When it speaks, you have to
listen. When it gives gifts, they are gems
to be saved. I have much more trouble
with other aspects. Dialogue is my worst."
Not too much trouble, though. After The
Party works as an action-packed,
humorous drama. Dive a little deeper and
it's a contemporary spiritual fable with a
In Blackadder's world clitorises exist,
female sexuality is taken for granted and
ovulation is an experience, not simply a
reproductive marker. Women characters
are potent, creative and attracted to each
other as well as to men.
Much like Jesse herself, who sees her
own sexuality as fluid. When she came
out at eighteen, her mother followed suit
a few months later. Which was not as
much fun as you might think.
"I quickly stopped calling her 'mum' at
women's dances," Jesse remembers. "I'd
call out 'mum' and all these heads would
turn. Once we went away with our
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