Half Wild is a novel based on the various lives of Eugenia Falleni, a person who was both male and female at the turn of the twentieth century in New Zealand and Australia.
I first became interested in this story in 2005, when I saw Falleni's mugshot in the City of Shadows exhibition at the Justice & Police Museum in Sydney, but only started working on the material as a novel in 2011, when I enrolled in a Doctorate in Creative Arts at Western Sydney University. Under the supervision of Ivor Indyk, Chris Andrews and Sara Knox I wrote a manuscript which was very similar to the one that Allen & Unwin eventually published in July, 2017.
Writing this book was the hardest and most rewarding thing I have ever done. It deals with identity and historical source materials - two things which can often be at odds with each other. In negotiating what can be incredibly sensitive subject matter for people who are fighting to be regognised as transgender, I am not 100% convinced I have the right approach, or if even if there is a right approach, but I hope my book contributes to discussions about how stories like Falleni's might be broached.
Falleni's lives have been written about many times before, from different perspectives and with different objectives in mind. If forced to be pigeonholed, my book is a feminist contribution to this wider discussion, and I hope there will be more contributions from other vital perspectives in the future.
In the "Further Reading" link, I have included excerpts from my doctorate, which lay out the source materials I engaged with in the writing of this novel. I will write other blog posts on this page if and when the need arises.