Artist Interview - Julia Abbey

Sunday 19 February 2023

Just as there are many talented local writers, so too are there artists who each capture the landscapes they see in their own uniquely creative frames. Today I'm interviewing Julia Abbey, whose works celebrate the unique flora and birdlife that call our great country home. 

Native flowers and birds feature in most of your works, what is it about these elements that make them a focus?

Having grown up in Europe, I was stunned when I first visited Australia, by the beauty of Australian native birds and flowers. I had never witnessed flocks of parrots flying overhead before and was in awe of their size and colours. The sounds that these birds made was unfamiliar to me and I am only just getting used to the high pitched screech of the cockatoo! When I visit my son on the Mid North Coast I am treated to rare sightings of red tailed black cockatoos. I love that these creatures play an important role in Dreamtime stories. I decided to honour them in my paintings, sometimes linking them for fun with a picture, for example the Rosella in my Arnotts biscuit painting.

Native flowers have a similar effect on me! Again I am stunned by their size and beauty. The King Protea and Banksia are two of my favourites and feature a lot of my work. The petals of the Protea and the leaves of the Banksia are so wonderful to paint. Like the birds, they have a presence - there is something magnificent about them.

I feel honoured and lucky to live in Australia. By featuring native birds and flowers I feel as though I am saying thank you and that I am grateful for these things! Native birds and flowers have become a definite theme for my work.

Can you share with us your creative process for an artwork from an idea to the finished product?

I can only describe the creative process as a kind of wave which increases and develops until it is let out onto the canvas! It can begin in the most unlikely of places, and like a seed, begins to grow. Recently an old cotton reel in a tatty box on the floor caught my eye at a market. It instantly triggered images of vintage sewing patterns in my head (my daughter happens to be handy with sewing and has many vintage patterns). The idea then develops into colours and which objects I wish to include in the picture. I try not to overfill my pictures, so three objects is usually enough, just enough to evoke a thought or memory for someone. Many of my paintings relate to a moment; just about to sew, taking a break or a summer afternoon drink, so they don't need too many objects to be interpreted. Often I will search the internet for images if I don't own the objects. Then it's a case of mapping out the arrangement, usually in a sketch book before doing a rough paint on the canvas to make sure that the size and shape of the objects is correct, and composition is ok. 

The process begins with a messy paint, thinking about undercolours, in other words which colours I would like to show through a little at the end. Each layer of paint becomes neater however detail is only usually added in the final phase. I would say there are usually around five phases for each painting. I decide at the beginning where the light source will be in order to highlight objects and often I will use objects which throw an interesting shadow. When a painting sits well with me I stop. Often I take a photo of the painting and look at it from a different perspective, adjusting small things I may notice. My daughter is amazing at giving me honest feedback!

What have been some of the biggest highlights of your career so far?

For many years friends had been saying 'You should sell your paintings!' One of the biggest highlights for me has been seeing the pleasure it gives someone to own an original painting. I love that many of my friends have my work hanging in their homes! When people I didn't know started to buy my work, that felt strange and exciting! The other huge highlight was when I was contacted by Gig Moses at Moree Gallery, asking me if I would like to exhibit at the gallery. I was literally over the moon! Gig has been amazing, she gives me advice and encouragement. I'm still fairly new to the art world and it's great to have the advice of someone who has been doing it for a long time. As I begin to realise my dream of painting partly for a living I feel very lucky. 

Did you always know you wanted to be an artist, and if not, what was the defining moment for you in deciding to pursue it and sell your work to the public?

 I always knew I loved art and I always knew I had creative energy inside me, but I never consciously decided to be an artist - it just started to happen! So many people had asked me when I was going to sell my work that I decided to make an instagram page. I sheepishly put four paintings up to start off and see what happened. The next morning I woke to find that three of the four had sold! So I painted some more, and they sold too! It went from there! My instagram page is still active and I can also be found under 'artists' on the Moree Gallery website. I am yet to make my own website, that's the next thing! I am also keen to develop original art for childrens rooms. I love painting the charming Danish designed Maileg toys and hope to develop this side of my work. 

What is your favourite artwork produced by another artist (contemporary or classic) and why?

 I don't have one particular artist that I favour, but rather many artists who I follow, for example Cressida Campbell who has recently exhibited at the National Gallery in Canberra. I enjoy following a variety of styles.Thanks to social media artists worlds can be shared and enjoyed by many. I do have favourite designers who feature in my work, for example William Morris (1834-1896) Whilst living in England (the home of wallpaper!) I was inspired by the designs of William Morris. Recently I have begun to add my interpretation of some of his designs into my work. 

What advice would you give to other budding artists who are starting out and looking to have their works available for purchase?

My advice is that you have nothing to lose! Be brave and put yourself out there! Try selling your work on a platform such as Instagram to begin with. See what happens, you may be pleasantly surprised! Find a local gallery and enter some of their exhibitions. Paint for yourself and if others like it, that's a bonus! If nothing else, painting is a wonderful, mindful hobby which allows your creativity to flow.

Is there a sneak peek you could provide for any pieces you have underway and how people can see them once they are complete?

I have three pieces underway, all featuring the same William Morris design in three different colours! There are a number of things I will change before these three are finished but they are well under way. They are going into an exhibition to raise money to support the mental health needs of children and young people in the community which runs from 24th March to 3rd April at BDAS in Bowral NSW. The pieces will be for sale in the exhibition and on my Instagram page after the exhibition unless they sell prior. Unfortunately due to the busy backgrounds these three do not feature my usual bird so they are slightly different to my usual works. I am challenging myself at the moment to develop my style. 

About the artist

Born in South Africa, Julia was later schooled in both England and Germany. She came to Australia first as a backpacker and later to live in Bowral NSW in 1998. Julia has two grown up children who are her biggest supporters. As a primary school teacher Julia has always admired the naivety of children's work, their lack of inhibition and bold choice of colours. Some of this is reflected in her work. Having grown up mainly in the UK, Julia is still in awe of the beauty of nature in Australia. Native birds and flowers focus in her paintings along with a pop of colour and a touch of vintage. A self-taught artist, Julia just loves to paint everyday scenes which evoke a moment, whether that's sitting down for a cool drink on a warm afternoon or hanging up the gloves after a day of gardening. Julia is keen to explore original art for nurseries and you will encounter a few whimsical and cute creatures she has painted for this purpose. Julia paints in acrylic on canvas and the art is framed in a Tasmanian Oak box frame. As her career as a teacher draws to a close, Julia would love to open the door to more painting. 

You can find more of Julia's paintings Instagram

Author Interview - Susanne Gervay, The Edge of Limits

Monday 31 October 2022

The Edge of Limits by Susanne Gervay
Released: 1 November 2022
Published by: Flying Elephants Media
Genre: YA Contemporary
Pages: 305
When Sam, 17, treks into the wilderness on the school survival camp, he misses his girlfriend Laura with her belly-button ring. The gruelling physical challenges are hard, sometimes hilarious, sometimes cruel as he treks deeper into unknown territory forced to confront the underbelly of real mateship, sexual consent and the dangers of guys like Watts. Ultimately, the camp winds to the final place of initiation, to the edge of limits, where Sam must choose what he stands for. This is a journey from the city culture of beach parties, girlfriends, sex and consent, to the vast wilds of trekking, abseiling, rock climbing, white-water rafting, sweaty days and freezing nights. This is a novel which needed to be written and needs to be read.
The YA space is one where authors have the opportunity to explore the real issues facing young people through fiction that pushes the boundaries and confronts readers with its raw honesty. It's an honour to host Susanne Gervay on the blog today, an Australian writer who is well-known for her books in both the children's and teen arenas, with a focus on young people finding their voice. In The Edge of Limits this comes to the fore - a novel that goes to the heart of the complexities of growing into the identities that shape us at this turbulent stage of life. 

Author Interview with Susanne Gervay

What are the main elements of The Edge of Limits that make it relatable to its target audience?

‘The Edge of Limits’ is a camp trekking into the mountains with the dreaded ‘long-drop’, no showers, sleeping on rocks, hard trekking, abseiling, climbing, wild rivers, wilderness. There are the boys on the camp, but there’s are the girls too at the parties, beach culture, school. There’s humour, challenges, stories of mateship, enemies, friendship, families, school and personal relationships. It goes deep into the ethos of male identity and comes out with a courage. It gives girls insight in the way boys see them. It gives boys the powerful opportunity of thinking about how they will act. It’s a book that changes you.

A stand-out element of the story for me was Sam's relationship with his grandfather. What drove you to explore the influence of different male role models in the life of teenage boys?

Men matter. Boys matter. Sam’s relationship with his grandfather matters. His grandfather has life experience and he shares it with his grandson. It gives Sam choices. His grandfather is beside him, even after his death, although it takes time for Sam to understand this. As the boys go deeper into the mountains, they confront their search for identity. ‘Heroic’ Luke reveals his father has expectations he struggles to meet. The teacher Mr Seaton, who Sam calls the ‘orangutan’ just doesn’t get the complexity of identity crisis. ‘Fat George’ with his Italian background is ‘beautiful’ although he doesn’t know it. Sam’s relationship with George helps him define who he is. The girls matter too. How the boys treat them from a stereotypical object to discard or not, to that deep sharing of youth. The search for identity is complex and confronting.

There is a strong yet subtly woven storyline surrounding consent and the manifestation of toxic behaviour with a "nothing to see here" culture driven by some of the characters. Given it is such a big issue, did you have any challenges in coming up with how this would come through in the book?

It was hard writing ‘The Edge of Limits’. I had to get into the male mindset. Identification with the character drives ‘The Edge of Limits’. Sexuality is the trigger, but the search for identity is the journey. ‘Nothing to see here’ is on the surface, but there is so much to see. It’s about girls – getting them, discarding them, wanting them where consent is subjective or coercive or real love or distorted through peer group pressure of the Rave Party and the rape. 

Without giving too much away, is there a particular line or scene in The Edgs of Limits which you found particularly powerful while writing it?

‘The Edge of Limits’ holds so many powerful moments. I find it difficult to decide what moves me most. All of it really. This scene with Sam and the grandfather stays with me:-

We were walking back from the river, pretty satisfied with ourselves. We’d caught three trout and dinner looked like it was going to be great. Grandpa had his fishing rod over his shoulder and I was holding the fishing box and bucket with the trout. We’d seen dogs in the area, so when we set up camp we’d been careful to move away from their territory. "Don't trespass," Grandpa said.

But these were looking for trouble. They found us walking back and started to follow, tagging us with low growls.

"Grandpa," I whispered.


Grandpa looked back at them. "It's all right, Sam."


I saw from the periphery of my eye their snarls, the black undersides of their lips, their yellow fangs, their butcher tongues.


"Walk next to me," Grandpa said quietly. "Not too fast."


I wanted to run. I knew they’d get me if I ran, but that was what I wanted to do. I started to walk faster. They did too. Then they began to gain on us, worrying the bush, snarling jarring growls. I walked faster, they moved more quickly. I smelt their spit.  Suddenly Grandpa clenched my arm, forcing me to stop. I could hardly breathe. He turned around.  I turned around after him.


Snarling saliva dripped like blood. They were going to rip out our throats for sure. I was cold, frozen, breathing razor blades. I looked at Grandpa. We had nothing to fight with. He stared into their eyes and they stared back still edging forward. Then Grandpa started. I’d never heard him swear like that before but he swore then, angry frightening swearing, obscenities of words, spitting out “fucking bastards” “crap dogs”  "bloody animals”  “killing shits" "fuck off”. 

I couldn’t move. The ferals stopped edging towards us unsure of whom this ferocious Grandpa was in his checked flannel shirt. He took out his flimsy fishing rod whipping it at the dogs, then he charged them, my Grandpa with his white hair and heavy rimmed glasses.

They stopped snarling, unsure, then they turned, running like cowards into the scrub.

I learnt something that day.

How did the experience of writing this novel compare with your previous works? I still remember reading I Am Jack and Super Jack when I was a child!

All my writing is inspired by my experiences. When I wrote the ‘I Am Jack’ books I was shell-shocked that my son was bullied at school and I did not know. My kids mean everything to me, but I was so busy working and managing life. When I asked Jack if I could write the book, he said – ‘It helps kids and teachers and parents. So it is okay.’


As it is a younger book, I entered into the mind of Jack and his community, and wrote from his perspective. Kids are remarkably resourceful. When Jack is happy and safe, he is adventurous and hilarious. When confronted by the bullying, he tries to keep brave, until he can’t anymore. There is so much in ‘I Am Jack’ and the other books ‘Super Jack’, ‘Always Jack’, ‘Being Jack’.  They are such gorgeous books about resilience and courage.


When I wrote ‘The Edge of Limits’ I went into tough territory. It is YA so I wrote with truth. It was so liberating. I did not have to make compromises. I wrote the narratives that capture male humour, challenges, stories of mateship, enemies, friendship, families, school and personal relationships. ‘The Edge of Limits’ take teens to the edge. They can confront racism, homophobia, misogyny, sexual abuse. However more importantly they confront their personal journey of identity. Who they want to be. ‘The Edge of Limits’ is an edgy place to make those critical choices.

The boys in this book all have very different personalities and ways of coping with the challenges of the camp. What were the easiest and most challenging aspects of capturing the adolescent experience in this situation?

During teen and young adult years, the brain that is responsible for reasoning, planning, and problem solving, is developing. When you add puberty, peer group pressure and often alcohol, it can lead to impulsive action. As an author, I go to the hard places of identity. I laughed when there was the leech invasion, but could hardly breathe when Sam witnessed the rape. There are so many choices, dead-ends, feelings of ‘If Not Me, Who? If Not Now, When?’  

I love the personal growth we see in so many of the main characters in your stories and unique, honest voices of the protagonists that shine through. Could you give us a sneak peek as to what you're working on next? 

I am having a ‘rest’ from confronting YA literature and delving into joy. ‘There’s a Gang on Our Street’ stars sulphur crested cockatoos and kids. It is so funny and naughty, celebrating diversity, games, adventures. It has a non-fiction element with lots to learn. Did you know that sulphur-crested cockatoos play tricks? Did you know that kids are just like the cockatoos? Big Sky publishers fell in love with this picture book. Looking forward to its publication in 2023.

About the author

You’ll find Susanne Gervay planting 3000 mangroves in Kiribati as part of a mission for action against climate change. In Istanbul speaking to 1000s of young people about NO bullying. In remote Aboriginal communities supporting education. In a juvenile detention centre sharing books with teenage girls. At the World Burn Congress in New York presenting ‘how the inner person can triumph over a preoccupation with surface scars and know that basic values of commitment, caring and trust are more important than the texture of the skin.’


Why? Gervay’s passion is empowering people to be critical thinkers and develop the resilience to advocate for justice. As the child of refugees, growing up with the emotional complexities of parents who had been through the Holocaust, migration and loss, books were Gervay’s source of escape, comfort, insight and courage.


Gervay tackles themes from feminism in Shadows of Olive Trees, harmony and inclusion in Elephants Have Wings, extremism and the war in Heroes of the Secret Underground, and consent and control in her new Young Adult novel out November 1, The Edge of Limits. What she writes matters to her deeply and is grounded in personal experience.


Gervay has been awarded the Lifetime Social Justice Literature Award by the International Literacy Association, Order of Australia, nominee for Australia for Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, amongst others. Her acclaimed stories are published in prestigious literary journals and anthologies including the Indian-Australian anthologies alongside the works of Sir Salman Rushdie and Thomas Keneally. She represented Australian in “Peace Story” an IBBY, UNICEF anthology with 22 authors and 22 illustrators from 22 countries. She continues to write for pathways to peace.


Her books are endorsed by The Cancer Council, Room to Read, Books in Homes reaching Indigenous and disadvantaged children, Life Education, as well as many anti-bullying and literacy organisations. Susanne heads the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (ANZ), is patron of Monkey Baa Theatre, ambassador for Room to Read, Reading and literacy Ambassador for many campaigns and is an acclaimed national and international speaker.


You can find more information at or contact

Review: The Rabbits by Sophie Overett

Thursday 4 November 2021


The Rabbits by Sophie Overett
Released: 2 July 2021
Published by: Penguin Australia
Genre: Australian Contemporary/Magical Realism
Source: Purchased
Pages: 336
Rating: 4 of 5 stars

From the winner of the Penguin Literary Prize and the Kathleen Mitchell Award. A multigenerational family story with a dose of magical realism. It is about family secrets, art, very mild superpowers, loneliness and the strange connections we make in the places we least expect.

How do you make sense of the loss of those you love most? Delia Rabbit has asked herself this question over and over again since the disappearance of her older sister, Bo. Crippled by grief, Delia and her mother became dysfunctional, parting ways not long after Delia turned eighteen. Now an art teacher at a Queensland college, Delia has managed to build a new life for herself and to create a family of her own. Only more and more that life is slipping: her partner, Ed, has gone, her daughter, Olive, is distancing herself, and, all of a sudden, in the middle of a blinding heatwave, her sixteen-year-old son, Charlie, disappears too. Suddenly what was buried feels close to the surface, and the Rabbits are faced not only with each other, but also with themselves. The Rabbits is a multigenerational family story with a dose of magical realism. It is about family secrets, art, very mild superpowers, loneliness and the strange connections we make in the places we least expect.

There is magic to be found in a story that is written with such a pointed and achingly real depiction of what it means to be part of a family, to experience a loss, and to know how to rediscover an identity you thought was long gone. The Rabbits encapsulates so much in its blisteringly honest characters. Each member of the family has their own insecurities, a need to be connected to something and mend relationships that have been broken either by losing a person's physical presence, or simply the absence of any true substance even when someone is standing right next to you. Set against the sweltering heat of a Queensland summer and with an original, well-executed twist of magical realism, Overett draws you in from the very first scene and from there it's very hard to let go as the pages fly by. 

You're no good at this, a voice tells her, and no, Delia thinks, she's not. She wants to tell him she's done this before. That she's been Benjamin and she's been Olive. That she's desperately searched, and been bitterly angry, but none of it brings back someone who won't be found, and sometimes the not knowing is better than the truth, because at least it means there's a chance. Her chest tightens, constricts to such a degree that she feels light-headed, and she leans back, putting her hand on the kitchen island to steady herself. 

While the string of missing people in the Rabbits' family life is a central aspect of the novel, what makes this book such a success is the way every character is invested in equally. From Delia's voice as a mother, reflecting on the disappearance of her sister Bo all those years ago, to her mother now slipping away with dementia and old age, Olive rebelling in the early phases of adulthood, and Ben navigating all the drama as a ten year old, every character's voice is portrayed in so much detail. It's rare to find a book that has this combination of both adult and child shifts in perspective which is achieved so seamlessly. You feel as though you've stepped right into the lives of the Rabbits where each secret is ripped open with tender prose that is a pleasure to read. 

There is something to be said also about the creativity of including even the slightest hint of something supernatural in the story. While some works may try too hard or stray beyond into fantasy where it doesn't quite hit the mark, Overett here uses these twists of magical realism to add even more interest and make it just to the threshold of being conceivable. I won't put any spoilers here, but just know that it's clever and done well!


The Rabbits is as creative as it is addictive to read. Fiction by Australian authors has always been promising for me, and I'm so glad that I picked this one up. The Rabbits is full of mystery, insights on troubled family ties and with a satisfying end, making Sophie Overett one to watch!

About the author

Sophie Overett is an award-winning writer, editor, podcaster and cultural producer. Her stories have been published in Griffith Review,Going Down Swinging,Overland,The Sleepers Almanac,and elsewhere. She won the 2018 AAWP Short Story Prize, and her work has been shortlisted for multiple awards, including the Text Prize and the Richell Prize. She’s passionate about storytelling in all of its forms, but particularly stories for the page and the screen. She writes across genres and formats, with a focus on magical realism, literary fiction and horror. The Rabbits, her debut novel, is the winner of the 2020 Penguin Literary Prize, and her first screenplay, All the Little Fishes,has been optioned by Cathartic Pictures. For more information, visit

Review: The Golden Book by Kate Ryan

Friday 22 October 2021

The Golden Book by Kate Ryan
Released: 3 August 2021
Published by: Scribe Publications
Genre: Australian Contemporary
Source: Purchased
Pages: 244
Rating: 3 of 5 stars
Jessie had said they should go at midnight. 'It’s the gods’ time,' she said, narrowing her eyes dramatically. 'Anything could happen.’ It’s the 1980s, and in their small coastal town, Ali and her best friend, Jessie, are on the cusp. With ‘The Golden Book’, a journal of incantation and risk taking as their record, they begin to chafe at the restrictions put on them by teachers, parents, each other. Then Jessie suffers a devastating accident, and both their lives are forever changed. When Ali is an adult, with a young daughter herself, the news of Jessie’s death brings back the intensity of that summer, forcing her to reckon with her own role in what happened to Jessie so many years ago. As this stunning debut moves back and forth in time, and Ali’s secrets are forced into the light, Kate Ryan asks profound questions about responsibility and blame, and, ultimately, about love.
The complexities of friendships while on the cusp of coming-of-age are brought into stark focus in Kate Ryan's dreamlike novel The Golden Book. Capturing the haze of nostalgia as the main character Ali reflects on the reckless stages of growing up with bohemian and risk-taking best friend Jessie, this is a story which explores the adventurous spirit of adolescence, blurred lines between responsibility and blame and what it means to move past events with shocking consequences. 

How could she say any of it? If only she hadn't suggested it in the first place. If only she had been clearer, stronger, braver, less envious of Jessie. If only Jessie had learnt to read. She was tortured by the idea of the Golden Book, that Jessie's family would read her looping writing, her meanness, her fury, her way with words. Her mind would circle over and over these things, and it seemed that even in sleep she was trying to work out what to do. How had it happened?

While the shifting timeframes between Ali's present state as a mother and writer and her past escapades with Jessie were sometimes jolting in the plot, there is something to be said about Ryan's mesmerising turns of phrase. The golden haze of the 1980s in all its carefree modes of upbringing, kids riding bikes in the street and reckless energy, are so effortlessly depicted. Each line feels deliberate and ebbs slowly towards the bigger revelations of just what happened to Jessie in the time before her death. Ali's memories and the attention given to the pair's competitive yet magnetic friendship, tainted with the knowledge that a power imbalance would always exist, are deftly examined. It's an interesting element to see Ali herself reflecting in her writing class about what she and Jessie would get up to, the wild adventures and dares, alongside the darker undercurrent that slowly began to permeate their bond. At times the pace of the novel may have lagged, but you can't help but be immersed once more by the desire to know what led to Jessie's fate and discover how not only Ali, but also Jessie's family, had reacted.

Maybe she could fix it all, get the real Jessie back from wherever she had gone. She thought of stealing the book, and planning this allowed her to sleep. Sometimes the repetitive thoughts were like voices, coming from a place that was part of her and Jessie too. She had began to wonder whether she had done it on purpose, after all, had really wanted to hurt her. And in the morning, drugged with pure exhaustion, she knew nothing could be done. 

Another interesting element of The Golden Book is the thread that ties past experiences of childhood into how we then choose to raise our own children. Ali's rawness in reflecting on her friendship with Jessie that influences her behaviours now as a woman in a new relationship, with her school-aged daughter Tam, adds another layer of depth to the story. There are some thoughtful points raised about how past trauma and guilt can still linger years after an event, the realisation that one day every child will stretch further from the ties of their parents, and that time while a great healer, can often shift back into memories which one would rather leave behind.


Imbued with nostalgia and exploring some deep themes on what happens when childhood friendships shift into reckless territory, The Golden Book is definitely worth a read. Though at times it may feel as though the shifting in time between the past and the present becomes blurred, Kate Ryan is one to watch for her mesmerising writing style and sharp eye for examining the relationships that shape us.

Author Interview with singer-songwriter Ziggy Alberts: Brainwaves

Saturday 18 September 2021

Brainwaves by Ziggy Alberts
Released: 3 February 2021
Published by: Commonfolk Publishing
Genre: Poetry
Pages: 88
A debut collection of poetry from platinum ARIA accredited artist Ziggy Alberts, 'brainwaves', explores life's experiences and emotions, inwards and out. Deeply personal, frank, insightful yet relatable, Alberts uncovers his introspective thoughts and lessons learned in conscious and intentional living. Differentiating from his lyrical work, readers can discover some of Alberts' most personal realisations from life at home and on the road. Divided into 4 chapters, each poem entices the next train of thought. Alberts masterfully draws observations of the natural environment to paint his experience of introspective moments. He contemplates modern-day dilemmas, timeless topics of purpose, trust, stillness, and love.
I've long been a fan of Ziggy Alberts' music, with the lyrics that sing homage to nature, love and appreciating small moments of stillness bringing so much joy to listen to - especially on the open road driving down the coast! In Brainwaves, there's a thought-provoking exploration of these same themes, with even deeper insights through poems that demonstrate the talent of one of Australia's best independent artists.

Author Interview Ziggy Alberts

What were some of the best and most challenging moments during your time bringing Brainwaves together?

The best time was holding the first copy I had printed and collated myself while I was on tour - that was beautiful. The most challenging part was rising above the burnout I had a couple of years ago that inspired the beginning of this project.

Did your writing process for Brainwaves coordinate in any way with writing for your Searching for Freedom album? How does the creative process differ between lyrics for a song and a stand-alone poem?

There are some small crossovers you will find in the book - I hope you like them :) Largely they are stand-alone projects, with very few lyrics found in the poetry book. Poetry wells up largely from mindfulness, whereas lyrics are written with a message in mind! That is the best way I can describe the difference in the creative process. 

What I've noticed in a lot of your songs and this poetry collection is the recurring theme of the healing and peace afforded through a connection to the ocean. Was there a specific moment in your life that helped you reach this realisation?

There have already been many important moments in my life where nature has provided me with much-needed peace - it's an ongoing realisation for me. 

The phrase "The things I am most gravely frightened of is not experiencing life as beautifully as I can express it in words" is a powerful statement in the book. In Brainwaves you seem to reflect on some deeply personal experiences, heartbreak and finding beauty in the quiet moments in life. What inspired you to share these in the open with your readers?

Through sharing my songs, my life has been a wonderful adventure. With that in mind, I wondered if sharing my poetry could do the same, and perhaps even more!

Searching for Freedom, Bright Lights, Simple Things and the reminder that it's simply being 'guided by the warmth against your skin' from Brainwaves (p. 86) celebrate embracing the release of time pressures, societal expectation and being guided by more than just the usual 'formula' of life. What advice would you give to people aiming to live simply?

I don't know if I can give advice on that topic; I'm still learning (haha) - but I would like to encourage people to value themselves enough to be fulfilled in their work. If you can find something that does that, it will be amazing for yourself and many others.

What is your favourite aspect of performing on stage? I'm pretty sure there are many fans looking forward to attending readings of Brainwaves too when we can! Could you give us a sneak peek at what you might be working on next?

My favourite part is the connection with the crowd and musician, writer and reader. Doing these poetry nights has been unreal so far - I look forward to doing more. I can't give a sneak peek, but we continue to have exciting releases in the following months so keep your eyes and ears peeled! :) 

About the author

Ziggy Alberts is an Australian singer-songwriter and author, whose genuine grassroots story and captivating live performances have built his career as one of Australia’s leading independent artists. When it came to making his musical vision a reality, Ziggy Alberts was always intent on establishing himself as an independent artist. In 2015 Ziggy’s older sister Anneka began managing him. In 2018, Ziggy alongside his sister and father, co-founded Commonfolk Records and soon after in 2020, his independent publishing house, Commonfolk Publishing. Alongside the release of brainwaves, Ziggy’s new album searching for freedom celebrates the next chapter in the evolution of Ziggy Alberts. The 12-track record promises to be an exploration into some of humanity’s most heartfelt and complex emotions, translated into beautiful simplicity by Ziggy’s capable hands. In his own words, the album is “an expression of an adventure that I’ve realised will last a lifetime”  

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