Sean Williams

a sad loss

posted on 6 Sep 2006 at 8:04 pm

I could and probably should update my LJ with gossip from Worldcon and boring writerly stuff, but I won’t just yet. Instead I’m going to talk briefly about Colin Thiele, who died earlier this week from heart failure. Australians will know him as the author of Storm Boy, a novel set on the South Australian coast concerning a boy and his father, a pelican and an outcast Aboriginal called Fingerbone (filmed in 1976). I grew up with book and movie, and am saddened by this loss to the Australian literary landscape. An author of 80 or more novels, he was something of an inspiration. An author with plenty of time and energy for new writers, ditto.

When asked on a list if I had met him, I had to say that I had not, but the degrees of separation between us were very small (as they always are in Adelaide). A few years back the government tried to award him an “SA Great” Literature Award, for services to the industry and promotion of the state, but he wouldn’t accept it. He insisted it should go to the runner up, a younger fellow who, Colin felt, deserved the encouragement more. That young whippersnapper was me. It may not be much of an award outside SA, but I was pleased to have something with the word “Literature” in it and flattered by his generosity.

I’ll never again be able to describe The Stone Mage & the Sea as “Storm Boy meets Mad Max” without feeling a little wistful.