Leigh Redhead

About the Author

I was born on the eighteenth of November, nineteen seventy-one in Adelaide, to hippy parents. We moved to New Zealand, where my brother was born, then back to Adelaide. My parents split up, my dad went overseas and my mum became a radical lesbian feminist for a while.

She bought a big white truck, converted it into a kind of mobile home and we travelled around. Lived for a while at Amazon Acres. No men allowed, only boys under twelve.

We reached Sydney in 1977. I remember going to lots of demo's. Women behind bars, Ban Uranium mining, 'What do we want? Fraser out. When do we want it? Now.'

When I was seven we went overseas. Visited my dad in London, relatives in Germany, friends in France. My mum fell in love with a (male) jazz musician in Paris and we lived with him in Munich for a couple of years, travelling around when he went to play gigs. We didn't go to school but I read a lot of books. I even tried to write one of my own: Diana the Duck. From what I can remember Diana swims to the wrong side of the lake and gets tangled up with some dodgy coyotes. She's just like Simone, only avian.

Mum and the musician broke up and we moved back to Australia, Stanwell Park this time. The primary school motto was: 'All The Way Straight', which used to give my mum a good laugh.

Then it was an alternative community called Elands, where marijuana was the cash crop. I lived there from ten to fourteen, first in a converted bus, then my mum built a house in the bush. No electricity, pit toilet, canvas bag shower.

Moved to Armidale in year nine and lived with my best friend, her mother and brother.

At sixteen I did my last year of high school in Los Angeles, living with my dad. The school was very Californian and one of the compulsory classes was Mysteries, where we had to pass around a talking stick and reveal our innermost feelings.

After I graduated I came back to Australia and the only job I could find was working on a prawn trawler as a cook/deckhand, going from Cairns to Cape York. After three months the boat broke down and I moved to Sydney.

Worked as a lingerie waitress, then masseuse. Lived around Newtown and had a lot of fun. Somehow finished a communications degree.

Moved to Melbourne when I was twenty-six. Still had trouble finding a proper job due to my impractical film production/cultural studies major. Waitressed until I saw a sign in the window of the Crazyhorse. Stripped for three years, massaged sometimes. Tried to go straight by working in a supermarket.

I started writing Peepshow in 2001. Wrote the first draft longhand in a series of black and red notebooks I carried everywhere.

In December 2002 I moved to Northern NSW. I applied for forty jobs before I got a first year Chef apprenticeship. Dishpiggin' for six bucks an hour. Kids, just because you like cooking doesn't mean you want to be a chef.

I joined the Northern Rivers Writers Centre and was accepted into a mentorship with Marele Day. As part of that I got to show my manuscript to Allen and Unwin and, to my utter amazement, they wanted to publish it. I quit the apprenticeship after the first year and now am writing full time. I learned how to make great mayonnaise and live on no money, which is a good skill for a writer to have.

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