Christian White had resigned himself to never getting published. Then the ‘perfect storm’ happened. Came rumbling down the coast of years spent working on his craft to swallow him up whole — and the taste of success is sweet.
An early draft of his debut novel The Nowhere Child won the 2017 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript. Then came his second novel, The Wife and the Widow, published last September and lauded as just as thrilling as his first. He’s signed deals for books three and four and the publishing doors have swung wide open to usher him through into thriller writing nirvana where plots twist and turn, traverse and suspend. Then there’s the soon-to-be-produced Netflix Originals’ eight-episode character-based thriller entitled Clickbait that he co-wrote with Tony Ayres on the boil among other projects.
Now that’s a happy creative space to be.
Christian, like any other dedicated writer, knows there is no such thing as overnight success. Even if people tell you there is. Spending years working casual jobs — think T-shirt printing, video editing and food cart driving — to support his self-proclaimed “addiction to writing”, this 38-year-old Mornington Peninsula boy has just resettled back in the ‘hood with his filmmaking wife Summer DeRoche and their greyhound Issy. It’s good to be home. We are chatting over the phone and the conversation flows freely. His voice is full of enthusiasm and appreciation for the position he is now in, both literally and metaphorically.
He explains: “I’ve always needed to write and dreamt of doing it full time. Writing is like a drug habit for me. It just feels really, really good. Before getting published I had this clear image of myself dying in my mid to late 90s in this small house and my grandkids coming in and searching through my dusty drawers to find all my writing.” He laughs. “The Nowhere Child was the fifth manuscript I wrote. It took me 15 years to land it, but it happened.”
Christian continues: “I grew up on the border of Mornington and Mount Martha just near Bentons Rd and went to Moorooduc Primary and Mornington Secondary School. Like lots of people in their early 20s I was pretty keen to get out of the place I grew up in and moved to town. My parents were these weird, impulsive hippies and never pressured us to be anything we didn’t want to be. They bought a caravan when my three siblings and I were kids and drove around Australia for 12 months. They live in McCrae now. Summer’s family is from the Peninsula too. She’s the youngest of six girls.”
Christian was full of insecurities when he left the Peninsula. He continues: “I didn’t know if I was going to be a writer, but now we’ve resettled in Balnarring and I am writing full time I couldn’t be happier. I feel full of nostalgia and am enjoying going on long walks and slowing down. I feel so lucky and a bit nervous too. It took me almost three years to write The Nowhere Child and with the first book you don’t have an audience or a deadline. Now I have both. Some writers say that the first book is hard, the second is a bit easier to write and the third is . . . you know what I mean. I think they are all hard, but what a position to be in.”
Yep, sure is — and by the way, Christian’s third book just might be set on the Peninsula. Here’s hoping.