Five Minutes with Brentley Frazer, author of Scoundrel Days
Your memoir Scoundrel Days is out this March. Can you introduce us to the premise?
Scoundrel Days is the story of the boy I once was running away from everything everyone ever taught him and seeking the truth for himself. It’s about growing up on the wrong side of the tracks in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. It’s the story of the broken people I encountered and the shattered dreams. It is also a story about road tripping and taking too many drugs and drinking too much and driving too fast and waking up with strangers in strange beds. It’s also a love story about the poetry that can be found in everyday life if you look hard enough.
You’ve had works published as far back as 1992. How long has this memoir been planned?
I started writing poetry and stories in primary school right through high school and I started having some success with publishing in the early ’90s. I began writing Scoundrel Days in 1993 but decided I hadn’t lived enough so I lugged the manuscript around the country, working on it until 2010 when I sat down and spent a year writing a draft. Then I decided that I didn’t know enough about writing novels so I applied to write the book as a PhD project so I could get a solid few years to work on it in a supportive environment. Essentially I had this book planned for well over 20 years.
Does one have to believe they’ve led an extraordinary life to write a memoir?
No, but having some adventures to relay engages your readers a little more effectively than no adventures. This is also part of the premise of Scoundrel Days – if no adventures happen to you, make your own.
Are you setting out to shock or surprise your reader, or simply to entertain?
There’s a difference? Seriously though, feeling shocked or surprised is entertainment, but no, I never deliberately set out to shock. While working on the book it wasn’t my MO to do anything more than engage the reader, to take them for the ride right up against the windscreen.
Who were your main influences in your writing?
Writers who shaped my life include Mark Twain, Virginia Woolf, Henry Miller, Jean Genet, Jack Kerouac and Andrew McGahan.