On the Couch with Scott Bevan

Scott Bevan oncWho is Scott Bevan?
A writer trying to complete the journey from child to childish to child-like. My fourth book, Bill: The Life of William Dobell, has just been released.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
I spend a lot of time reading an autocue. I have a job presenting news, a job I’m honoured to have. But I would like more time for writing – and for thinking.

Who inspires you and why?
Four dear friends: Tasmanian artist Max Angus who, at 100 years ‘old’, affirms life with his paints and brushes every day. Holocaust survivor Helen Schon, for her resilience, fearlessness, and her embrace of the world. What’s more, she can be like a second mother. I have a wonderful and inspiring mother, Jean, but she doesn’t know how to scold me like Helen does. Director Bruce Beresford, the owner of a brilliant imagination, a steel-trap mind, a child’s eye, a wicked sense of humour, and a heart and soul that guide everything he does. And he’s a fine kayaking companion. My best friend, Jo. I’m married to my best friend. Her calmness and positivity are extraordinary.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
Become more like my best friend. The world needs more like Jo.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
For my holiday, just add water. Anywhere that allows me to paddle down a river or cruise across an ocean, seeing the world from a different perspective, is a joy to me. A few years ago, I kayaked the Hunter River, from near its source to the sea in my home city of Newcastle, and wrote a book about it (The Hunter, ABC Books, 2012). The journey was only 350 kilometres, but it taught me a lot about myself and where I’m from. As Paul Theroux once wrote, travel has less to do with distance than with insight.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take then to, and why?
I’d take them to Wangi Wangi. Only 90 minutes’ drive north of Sydney, this village sprinkled along a peninsula jutting into Lake Macquarie feels like it’s somewhere in the past – in the best possible ways. We could grab a pie and eat it on the foreshore, kayak around Pulbah Island, and, finally, visit Dobell House, the former home of one of Australia’s greatest artists. Having spent a little time in Wangi, the visitors would get a sense of why William Dobell lived here, and why I was inspired to write Bill.

What are you currently reading?
I’ve just finished reading The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan. What a starkly beautiful story about living with the past, and with ourselves. I’m now keen to re-read Ray Parkin’s Wartime Trilogy, based on his experiences as a naval officer and POW during the Second World War, and the novels of Japanese author Shusaku Endo.

What are you currently listening to?
I’m listening to the voices of my sons, drifting from downstairs, narrating a story based around a LEGO kingdom they’ve built. I aspire to be the masterful storytellers they are.

Happiness is?
Realising, somewhere between the answers to questions eight and ten, how good my life is.

What does the future hold for you?
I have no idea what the future holds, and that suits me just fine. After all, look what happened to Macbeth when he heard what he thought the future held for him…

Scott Bevan is an author, journalist and playwright. He has worked extensively as a producer and reporter for the ABC, Nine Network Australia and National Geographic Television and Film. Like Dobell, he was born in Newcastle and has lived in Wangi Wangi. Unlike Dobell, Scott can’t paint. He currently co-hosts the ABC News 24 evening program and lives in Sydney.

He is the author of three critically acclaimed books: The Hunter, Battle Lines: Australian Artists at War and Water From The Moon: A Biography of John Fawcett. His documentary work includes Oll: The Life & Art of Margaret Olley and The Hunter.

His fourth book, Bill: The Life of William Dobell is published by Simon & Schuster and is available from all leading book retailers including Bookworld. You can also meet Scott at a series of events nationally, by visiting: www.williamdobell.com/events.html

Image: Scott Bevan