What was the tragic end to a friend’s life, became the start of something new for Cronulla first-time author, Julian Breeds.
His book Bonfire Night is a collection fictional stories about the mental health struggles men face – ones that are not heard until it is too late.
Recently retired, Mr Breeds, a former Loftus TAFE teacher of hospitality who emigrated from the UK in 1981, was inspired to write after collaborating on creative projects with his daughter, ex-Home and Away actress Rebecca Breeds.
“When she was 13 she wanted to get into acting, so we joined drama groups, performed in outback Australia, and I did a bit of script writing,” he said.
But it was only after the unexpected death of a friend, that Mr Breeds felt the urge to pen fictional characters blended into events mirrored in reality.
“I used to go to a friend’s farm on a rural property in western NSW to help build fences,” Mr Breeds said.
“We’d have bonfire nights, and got to know each other well. Then his marriage broke down, he started drinking heavily, and suffered from paranoia. He took his own life.
“That was one of the triggers that started the book. But I’ve met many people who have gone through these experiences.”
Although the book focuses on the central theme of suicide, the message is not all doom and gloom, Mr Breeds said.
“I do write about self-destructive behaviour but there’s tears and despair but also humour and hope,” he said.
“It’s a very cathartic way to work through your feelings. The message is also about the people left behind – the survivors, and letting go.
“The final scene of the book is my friend’s father throwing his son’s hat into the fire as a symbolic cleansing.
“It’s a story with no real answers maybe makes us think what we can do to prevent it.”
Bonfire Night topped publisher Austin Macauley’s best seller list for August 2018 and is available at The Best Little Bookshop in Town, Cronulla.