Jesse Blackadder was in Sydney in 1964. She was the eldest of four sisters and a brother. Jesse was an award-winning Australian author of novels for adults and children. She was a screenwriter, public speaker, literacy advocate, and freelance journalist. she was fascinated by landscapes, adventurous women and really cold places. She liked landscapes, cold climates and adventurous women. She toured four-month in Antarctica as Australian Antarctic Arts. Her essay on the experience published in Kill Your Darlings. Jesse’s recent adult novel, In the Blink of an Eye (published in Australia as Sixty Seconds), is now available in the United States.
She was 56 years old.
Jesse Blackadder grew up on the North Shore and as a young child, enjoyed an idyllic Australian childhood wandering around the rocky beaches of the harbor and playing with friends. People have mocked her all her life for her last name.
Sixty Seconds, a haunting and redeeming story about forgiveness and hope, inspired by the author’s family experience.
Her novel The Raven’s Heart won the Benjamin Franklin award for historical fiction, and she was awarded an Antarctic Arts Fellowship for her novel Chasing the Light.
How she started writing
She Said: ‘Writing novels has been my dream since I learned to read, beginning a lifetime studying books that cannot be thrown away in the early hours of the night. It is my passion and I am delighted that it has been published by HarperCollins since 2011. ‘My new novel 60 Seconds broke in and demanded that it be written. I still remember the moment, driving home from Brisbane on the highway one night. At one point I didn’t have an idea in my head. The next, I learned the topic of the next book I would write. I didn’t know the shape, or what the story was, that came later. But he knew it was a family whose child drowned in his pool. As happened to my family, when my sister Lucie drowned in 1976. Going back to that painful experience and creating a writing out of it was a terrifying prospect. Not only because I knew I would stretch as a writer, but because after forty years, I felt I had enough perspective to go back to that experience and learn something new from it.
Jesse Blackadder really was born with that surname. She was An award-winning novelist, freelance writer and budding screenwriter, she was fascinated by landscapes, adventurous women and really cold places. Jesse’s forthcoming novel ‘In the Blink of an Eye’ is being published in the USA by St Martins Press in March 2019. (It was published in Australia as ‘Sixty Seconds’ by HarperCollins in 2017). The novel was inspired by her childhood experience of her sister’s death in a swimming pool. Jesse has recently been jointly awarded the 2018 Australian Antarctic Arts Fellowship to write a television series and a junior novel series set in Antarctica, in partnership with screenwriter Jane Allen. The pair will live at Mawson Station over the 2018/19 summer. ‘Chasing the Light’ (2013), is historical fiction based on the true but forgotten story of the first women to reach Antarctica. Jesse won her first Australian Antarctic Arts Fellowship in 2011 and travelled to Antarctica to research the novel. Jesse’s novel ‘The Raven’s Heart’, came about when she’d finally had enough of people asking if she was related to Rowan Atkinson. She travelled to Scotland to find the origins of the Blackadder surname and discovered the ruins of Blackadder House on the banks of the Blackadder River. Her first novel, ‘After the Party’ (Hardie Grant Books 2005), made the Australian Book Review list of all time favourite Australian novels in 2010. Jesse’s second novel, a book about Mary Queen of Scots, was based on one of her own real-life Scottish ancestors, Alison Blackadder. Raven’s Heart went on to win numerous American awards. ‘The usual question people ask is if I’m related to Rowan Atkinson,’ she laughs. Jesse has been a writer in residence in Antarctica, Alaska, in the Australian outback at Byron Bay, and at Varuna The Writers’ House, Australia’s leading residential program for writers. She has a Doctor of Creative Arts from the University of Western Sydney. Born in Sydney, she now lives near Byron Bay on Australia’s east coast.
published books :
7 novels for adults and children.
In the Blink of an Eye
Jesse’s famous novel ‘In the Blink of an Eye’ will be published in the US. USA By St Martins Press in March 2019 (it was published in Australia as ‘Sixty Seconds’ by HarperCollins in 2017). The novel was inspired by her childhood experience of her sister’s death in a swimming pool.
Cause of Death
Her Cause of Death is unknown.
The Byron Writers Festival, of which Dr. Blackadder was a member of the board, said that the author, who grew up on the north shore of Sydney but lived in Mullumbimby, in the North Rivers of New South Wales, died on Wednesday, days after his 56th birthday and six months since he was first diagnosed.
“Tirelessly adventurous, Jesse had a generosity of spirit that was unparalleled, a cheeky sense of humor, and a great love for the Northern Rivers, her writing community, her family and her partner Andi,” the festival board wrote on Facebook. It also praised Dr Blackadder’s contribution to the “wider literary community” in her role as peer assessor for the Australia Council and Create NSW, and her work as founder of the festival’s Story Board program, a travelling workshop aimed at encouraging creative writing among school children.
“She was an incredibly kind, authentic and generous person,” said close friend and fellow Northern Rivers author Sarah Armstrong.
“She supported emerging writers, she supported young writers, she engaged so completely with everyone who she encountered with a kind of warmth and easy kindness. I’ve been awed by the depth and breadth of love expressed for her, and I realised that even people who encountered her briefly were deeply touched by her.”.
Her publisher HarperCollins similarly praised:
Dr Blackadder’s “strong and extensive” influence on the Australian writing community. “Jesse was an inspiration, a generous and passionate person, and a brilliant storyteller. HarperCollins is proud to have published her novels and children’s books,” they said. Dr Blackadder’s acclaimed work included her 2005 debut After the Party, 2011’s The Raven’s Heart – a novel set in 16th-century Scotland inspired by her namesake clan (she “got sick of people asking if she was related to Rowan Atkinson,” a note on her website jokes) – which won the Benjamin Franklin award for historical fiction in the USA in 2013, and 2013’s Chasing the Light about the first women to land on Antarctica.
Dr Blackadder said of her struggle in revisiting the trauma for the novel. “What if I went back into that painful experience and almost got swallowed back into it or something?” Mary Rennie, Dr Blackadder’s publisher at HarperCollins, said the novel was “incredibly powerful”. “She was admired for so many reasons, and one was that she was such a beautiful, polished writer who could tell a compelling story in the most lyrical way. But then there’s the generosity, the passion, the cheekiness, the support for other people; she was sort of just an exceptional package.” Rennie said Dr Blackadder also “did everything she could to support Australian literature”. “She took every opportunity that came her way. She contributed back to the community in so many ways… You can tell by the outpouring on social media just how much she meant to people. She was too young to have been taken like this.” Alongside her four adult books, Blackadder had also worked as a freelance journalist and screenwriter, and wrote five children’s books focusing on friendships between humans and animal.