Arts / Canberra tragedy inspires new book

A TRAGIC personal story has inspired Canberra author Rebecca Rosengrave to write her first book.

Rebecca Rosengrave

“Gumtree Gargoyles” is a fantasy novel set in Canberra, featuring Rosengrave’s family as the characters. It’s influenced strongly by her father’s death in 2015 after years battling mental illness and depression.

While to some degree masked in fantasy and surrealism, the novel is based on reality and comments on Canberra’s culture. As she has put it: “There is a truth hidden in every myth and a reality hidden in every fable.”

Rosengrave comes from Belconnen, but now lives in Melbourne. A former member of  Canberra Youth Theatre, she also studied communication and creative writing at the University of Canberra, pursued a career in law and wrote a column for a foreign online newspaper.

In real life, Rosengrave spent 15 years trying to get the Canberra health system to help him, but to no avail. In 2015 he died alone, living in squalor as a hoarder and battling alcoholism.  He was found dead at his home by his family, who after being unable to contact him had arrived to check on him. Rosengrave later travelled to Gothenburg Sweden, where, unexpectedly, she found herself writing the book.

She admits there are autobiographical elements of the book.

“This book is what I call, the ‘last year of my twenties crisis’,” she says.

“My life changed drastically when I was 29. I left a really unhealthy relationship, left my high-flying job, sold everything I owned and ran away to Sweden.

“I ran to the farthest place I could think to escape it all. For me this has been cathartic.”

The novel tells the tale of a young woman called Katie, whose father’s recent suicide has left her with an unusual inheritance – the guardianship of a nation.

“There’s always light at the end of the tunnel,” she says.

“Gumtree Gargoyles” book launch. At Impact Comics. 16 Garema Place. 5pm,  Saturday, April 22. All welcome. The book is available for purchase for $13.99 at or via Amazon.



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