Kristel Thornell on the Origins of Her First Book

Tonight’s Debut Monday author Kristel Thornell has written for Readings blog about how she came to write her Australian/Vogel Literary Award-winning Night Street.

Debut Monday author, Kirstel Thornell

Debut Monday author, Kirstel Thornell

Sheltering from a hot Adelaide summer in the art gallery, Thornell found herself “transfixed by a small painting of a misty city street. It was subtle and gentle—but at the same time, so involving, mysteriously deep.” She had found her inspiration.

It was her first encounter with the forgotten artist Clarice Beckett and Thornell fictionalised her life as the subject of her novel. What fascinated her about Beckett was “the artist’s life could be read as a tragic or a triumphant story”. Beckett never married and spent her life looking after her parents, dying relatively young with little recognition of her art in her lifetime. But rather than isolation or tragedy, Thornell saw another story.

“She explored her own sensuality - in her connection with her city and with nature, in relationships with men. She lived unconventionally, bravely, dedicated to her artistic vision and to the landscapes of Melbourne.”

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