Honeybee author Craig Silvey discusses gender issues for Big Sky Fest

Edward ScownGeraldton Guardian
Sandra Carr MLC hosts writers Stella Budrikis and Craig Silvey for a discussion on social issues
Camera IconSandra Carr MLC hosts writers Stella Budrikis and Craig Silvey for a discussion on social issues

The Big Sky Readers and Writers Festival took over the weekend with crafting, drawing and storytelling workshops for all ages.

Friday got a little more serious as authors Craig Silvey and Stella Budrikis delved deep into the social issues surrounding their latest books with local politician Sandra Carr. “I’m quite starstruck by these two writers ... I’ve been teaching Craig Silvey’s novel Jasper Jones for many years,” Ms Carr, a former high school English teacher, said. Mitchell Street Community Centre hosted dozens of fans of the two books, which involve characters who are pushed to the fringes of society, and deal with issues of poverty. Silvey, whose 2009 award-winning novel Jasper Jones was made into a movie in 2017, mentioned a possible six-episode TV miniseries based on his latest release Honeybee.

The novel chronicles the life of transgender 14-year-old Sam Watson. She becomes friends with an older man when the two meet by chance as they plan to end their lives by jumping from the same bridge.

“It comes from a real life event ... a trust emerged, and this young person volunteered the reasons why they were there,” he said. “They were struggling with issues surrounding their gender identity. It had led to a loss of support from their family, they had been kicked out of home, and they found themselves in an anguished and hopeless place.”

Silvey said the story was inspired by a will to understand that particular plight and issues faced by trans youth. “When faced with things I don’t readily understand ... my process has always been to crystalise my thoughts through ink and paper.”

Budrikis’ recent work, The Edward Street Baby Farm, is the true story of a Perth woman who was arrested in 1907 for the murder of a baby. A trial found that at least 37 infants had died in her care, as she was providing housing for the children of single mothers and other “fallen women”. “It was the first time some people had actually thought about what a single mother is going through when they gave up their children.”

Carr related this to her own experience. “I had a (man) say to me once ‘no offence, but there are a lot of single mothers around’ ... it hasn’t changed a lot.”

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails