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  • Dani Vee

Megan Jacobson: The Build-Up Season in Darwin and domestic violence. Episode 56

Megan Jacobson chats to Dani Vee about her writing process for the young adult fiction novel The Build-Up Season, growing up in Darwin, and their shared experiences of unhealthy relationships.

The character Ily Piper has a beautifully gritty and honest voice, a character who refused to leave Jacobson alone. In the middle of another story, Megan had to temporarily abandon her current project in order to write The Build-Up Season. The novel is an important read for all young people, especially as they embark on relationships of their own for the first time. Megan’s experiences of characters in other books and pop culture tended to romanticize jealous partners and overbearing partners, often normalizing this behaviour. Megan and Dani discuss the importance of young people understanding that a relationship needn’t be physically abusive to be unhealthy or emotionally abusive and we need know the signs.

The Build-Up Season has the power to resonate with a wide variety of audiences and would be a wonderful text for parents to read alongside their young adult and discuss issues as they emerge. Domestic violence often continues to make the victim feel a sense of shame about their experiences. Megan and Dani share their experiences in order to help remove the stigma that may be attached to people who find themselves in these relationships. As Ily’s mother says you judge a person by their response when things are not so good, rather than how they behave when things are going well.

The Build-Up Season is set in Darwin and reflects the build up to the wet season, it does of course also reflect how the relationships within the novel build up and important choices need to be made. As is always the case when a story is set in Darwin, the place becomes a living character of its own – much like Peter Goldsworthy’s beautiful novel Maestro. We also chat about how important it is for Aboriginal people to be represented in Australian literature and storytelling. Craig Silvey’s Jasper Jones also comes to mind, and of course the wonderful literature being written by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples that reflect their experiences.

Jacobson’s writing process is to escape Sydney and head to Bali, where she spends months writing in a hut allowing the characters to breathe and come to life. It is this experience that ensures the characters are authentic and well developed. Megan describes her publishing journey with literary agency Curtis Brown and Penguin, and how self-belief and knowledge led the way for her.