‘As a boy I pointed a gun at strangers’

The Australian author Tim Winton reveals the true story of The Boy Behind the Curtain on stage with Rebecca Jones at this year’s Hay Festival.

“When I was a kid I liked to stand at the window with a rifle and aim it at people.” This chilling line opens Tim Winton’s latest non-fiction book, The Boy Behind the Curtain.

As a 13-year-old recently moved to a strange new part of Australia with his family, Winton explains to Rebecca Jones, “I think I just felt besieged and in an alien place and I was anxious, I think”.

This transgressive and forbidden act – pointing a gun at strangers – allowed the young Winton to have a moment of calm and control.

Through The Boy Behind the Curtain Winton was able to work through some of the traumatic real-life events that influenced his fiction, with its frequent themes of chaos, accidents and chance.

“That came from my family culture, which was defined by the old man’s job; dad was a traffic cop” (specifically accidents), Winton reveals. “Dad, whether he liked it or not brought havoc home with him every night.”

Talking Books: Hay Festival 2017 with Tim Winton airs on BBC World News at 13:30 on Sat 10 June 2017. Check the schedule for more details.

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