Q & A with Richard Roxburgh

Q & A with Richard Roxburgh
Authors at the National Library
26 September 2016

Richard Roxburgh is one of Australia's best-loved and most versatile actors. Richard has become a household name for his work in films like Moulin Rouge to the lead role in TV's Rake, as well as his many highly acclaimed performances with the Sydney Theatre Company.

Richard has been successful on the other side of the camera too. He directed the feature film, Romulus, My Father and was co-creator of the award-winning television series, Rake

Richard Roxburgh

On 18 October, we'll get a glimpse into the life of Richard Roxburgh and hear about Artie and the Grime Wave, his first book for children.

We caught up with Richard ahead of his visit to ask him about life, writing and what he loves about libraries.

Why do you write?

Writing came to me as a bit of a surprise, really. Acting and directing, I’ve always been hanging around the periphery of it, but couldn’t find a way into it. I’ve always loved reading bedtime stories to my boys, and also telling them stories of my own adventures (not all of them!).

There was a moment in time, around when my oldest boy was 8 years old, in which the stories I was reading to him tickled me almost as much as they did him. This set me thinking that perhaps I could write to that age group in particular, and that would in turn provide a place to put the ink drawings I’ve spent my life doodling.

What 3 titles should always be on the shelves of any self-respecting book shop?

Cormac McCarthy’s The Crossing

Graham Greene’s The End of the Affair

Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

How would you describe your latest book?

Artie and the Grime Wave is the story of a timid boy who is leading a very difficult life. When he and his friend, Bumshoe, stumble onto a cave of what seems to be stolen goods, he is thrust into an elaborate and unfolding adventure, featuring a gang of eccentric but lethal robbers, and some surprising assistance from a dotty old lady called Auntie boy, her canine, Macaroni, and an assortment of her inventions, including the Fartex 120Y.

Cover of Artie and the Grime Wave by Richard Roxburgh

What was the best part of writing your latest book?

The best part of writing the book was the sense of complete freedom that it afforded. To contextualise this, I guess you have to understand that I’ve spent my life dealing with material that other writers have provided. Sometimes this has been a privilege (Shakespeare, Chekhov…) and occasionally a little bit of a trial. But writing for myself, the extraordinary sense of it writing itself I found amazingly fun and liberating.

What do you love about libraries?

I wrote the bulk of Artie in the Mona Vale Library, which is my local. It is a fantastically thriving and buzzy hub of a place. All ages are represented, from the ancient on frames to babes in arms. Constant streams of folk enter and leave on an endless array of missions: borrow books, read papers, catch up with mother’s group, private read-throughs of French farces, school study clubs. I love it. It seems to me that a library has taken on the same meaning that the piazza has in Italian society. A catch-up, a study, a dialogue, and exchange, a gossip. And it’s free! There is no better yardstick of our success as a civilisation than a library.

Mona Vale Library, 1978. State Library of New South Wales Flickr

Book your tickets to Richard Roxburgh's talk at the Library on 18 October. Find out more about Richard's book Artie and the Grime Wave.