Ask An Author: Jesse Blackadder (November 6-10)

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It has been a while since we had an Ask An Author segment and that’s because we thought we might leave them a little longer between having the author in and when we featured the book, to give members a little longer to read.

Jesse Blackadder has taken the haunting memory of family tragedy and woven it into a captivating and heartbreaking fictional novel. A story that shattered me but was well worth the read.

Sixty Seconds is the first novel I have read by Jesse Blackadder but it won’t be the last. You can read my review and our reader feedback here: Book Club: Sixty Seconds

About Jesse Blackadder, in her own words

I’ve spent my life pursuing a fascination with stories.

My first foray into creative writing, at age 11, involved a swift marriage to Bay City Roller Eric Faulkner, in a joint wedding where my best friends married other band members. Literature it was not, but that’s where I first discovered the joy of creating stories. When my best friends – and other friends – starting demanding chapters as fast as I could write them, I was introduced to the pleasure of creating stories for an audience.

Since then, I’ve explored and made sense of my world through writing. My first novel, After the Party, was inspired by my love affair with Byron Bay when I first moved there in 1999. The Raven’s Heart came about through finding the ruins of the old Blackadder castle in Scotland – and an even older story about a brave woman who tried to defend it. Chasing the Light fictionalised the fascinating real life story of the first women to reach Antarctica – and gave me the opportunity to travel to that amazing continent as a writer in residence.

My novels for kids (8-12 years) are about relationships between humans and animals, enlivened by humour (such as the kidnapped Antarctic guide dog ‘Stay’, based on a real creature).

Writing Sixty Seconds was a long journey, with its beginning stretching way back to when I was 12 years old and my own toddler sister drowned in our backyard pool. It has been one of those stories I had to tell.

And incidentally, I never married Eric Faulkner.

       Photo: Donatella Parisini

 Sixty Seconds Synopsis

Inspired by the author’s own family experience. The Brennans – parents Finn and Bridget, and their sons, Jarrah and Toby – have made a sea change, shifting from chilly Hobart to a sprawling purple weatherboard in subtropical Murwillumbah. Feeling like foreigners in this land of sun and surf, they are only just starting to settle when, one morning, tragedy strikes – changing their lives forever.

Determined to protect his wife, Finn finds himself under the police and media spotlight. Guilty and enraged, Bridget spends her nights hunting answers in the last place imaginable. Jarrah – his innocence lost – is propelled suddenly from his teens into frightening adulthood. As all three are pushed to the limit, questions fly: Who is to blame? And what does it take to forgive?

A haunting and ultimately redemptive story about what it takes to forgive.


For the next week we have Jesse Blackadder on call to answer your questions, so if there’s anything you want to know about her career or any of her books please write your question in the comments section below and she will get back to you. Please do remember our authors are busy people too so you won’t necessarily get an immediate answer but all questions asked before Friday the 6th November will be answered.

For more great authors check back in the coming weeks, we will have authors in to coincide with book club reads. If you haven’t heard about our book club you should check out the Beauty and Lace Club.

Sixty Seconds is published by HarperCollins and is available now from Angus & Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold.

13 thoughts on “Ask An Author: Jesse Blackadder (November 6-10)

  1. Hi Jesse, I was just wondering whether you think an aspiring author should have a literary agent, and if you think it is a good idea how you would suggest finding a good one. Many thanks Marcia

    1. Hi Marcia, thanks for your question. Generally speaking I’m a big fan of literary agents. They are the person who can guide your career through the changing world of publishing. As an aspiring author, you’re only in a position to sign with a literary agent once you have a finished work of publishable standard.

      NSW Writers Centre has a great information page about literary agents including how to write a query letter when you’re ready to send your manuscript. You can check it out at

      My only word of warning – without knowing how far along you are in your career – is to make sure your work is of the highest possible standard before sending it to an agent. They only have that magical ‘fresh read’ experience with your manuscript once and ideally you want to dazzle them.

      Good luck!

  2. Hi Jesse, I’m half way through Sixty Seconds and it’s amazing. Just wondering how you managed to write this without breaking down the whole time. Great read but it’s a killer emotionally.

    1. Hi Alison, thanks for the feedback. I think having 40 years of emotional distance from the loss of my sister helped. It was enough time that the characters didn’t feel as if they were ME – they felt like people outside me, who I could understand and empathise with. But there were times when the writing was hard and some days of tears.

      1. Thanks for the reply. Sorry to hear about your sister. I feel like I’m on extra high alert now with my 2 year old (probably not a bad thing). Really enjoying this book. Thank you for the great read x

  3. I read Sixty Seconds and really enjoyed it. I wondered if there will be a sequel. Sometimes you read a book and you want to know more! Will they all be ok, . The story ends with Finn and Bridget forgiving themselves and each other, I wondered if their marriage survives or they have another child. Jarrah has just discovered himself and you wonder what his journey will be. Just wondering,

    1. Hi Anne, thanks for that feedback, I’m glad you enjoyed it. I’m not planning a sequel. The story feels complete for me, even with the fairly open ending on where these characters will go now. Have another read of the last two pages and you may find an answer to one of your questions though…

  4. Hi Jessie, I have not finished the book but it wont take me long as I read half of it in record time. I live near Murbah in NSW and found your writing very evocative and touching. I loved the way you describe things in detail, it really draws the reader in.
    My old boss had a very similar thing happen to her and I remember the guilt the mother felt for a very long time, never completely dissolving. They went on to have another child but the one they lost was always remembered and her short life celebrated whenever the anniversary came around or her birthday each year. Similarly, one of my work colleagues is the product of a similar situation, being the child born after his younger brothers passing and said that it was many years before it was spoken of. Two different ways of dealing with an almost exact situation.
    Speaking from your experience, did your parents become hyper vigilant and protective after the event and was her memory kept alive? I hope its ok to ask.
    Looking forward to your next book!

    1. Hi Marianne, thanks for your feedback. Yes, I’ve found that surprisingly often people say to me that they know someone that this has happened to – or that it has happened to them. Yes to both your questions – I think the whole family was pretty hyper vigilant afterwards, particularly around water, and I still am. And yes, we remembered my sister, especially on birthdays and anniversaries.

      I’m glad you’re enjoying Sixty Seconds – Hope my next book will be out in 2019 (things move slowly in the world of writing and publishing…!)

      Best wishes


  5. Hi Jesse, just finished reading Sixty Seconds and found it addictive and heartbreaking at the same time. My heart, in particular, belonged to young Jarrah as he navigates not only the frightening world of adolescence but the tragedy and fallout that befalls his family. Do you become attached to your characters and is there a little bit of you in some of them?

    1. Hi Jo-Ann, thanks for that. Yes, I do become attached to them – during the writing (a couple of years) they come to feel like real people in my life. It’s strange. And I think there is something of me in all of them – though certainly Jarrah is the one I felt closest to while writing Sixty Seconds. Cheers, Jesse

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