An Interview With Jaidyn Luke Attard

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 Jaidyn is a Poet and Writer based in Melbourne, Australia. Finding his love for the people and streets they roam, his work is influenced by them with a bohemian twist. He has recently published his first collection of poetry.

1. Where did you grow up and how has that impacted your writing and beliefs?

“I grew up in a north-western suburb in Melbourne, Australia that most would say was a tough place to live in. It was one of the lower socioeconomic areas, one of the only places where the unemployed, migrants and the disabled could afford to live. Government housing, public schools, and lots of industrial jobs. I only mention this because the rough neighbourhood I came from has had an enormous influence on my life and my writing. My brother and I jumped from house to house, from Mum to Dad and back again. We were never very social or popular at school, probably because I was (and remain) autistic, which affected me well into high school as well. I was perhaps one of the saddest and loneliest teenagers you could have encountered. Plagued by a never-ending series of heartbreaks, bullies, and anxiety-driven emotional problems, I began masking my troubles with study, becoming one of the top students in my school. I told myself I just wanted to make my parents proud, to do better than what my no-money, no-opportunities environment foretold, but the truth was, I was a good student to compensate for every other social and romantic element of failure in my life. Once school was over, I was free to spiral out of control, coping with my pain in all the wrong ways. But then I got my first job in a bookstore and started pursuing writing and publishing at university, where my eyes were opened to the wider possibilities of life outside my little troublesome suburb. A world to travel. People to meet. I was forced to confront the survival traits I’d picked up over the years, such as my deep-rooted paranoia and clinical depression. I turned away from substances and went to books for solace, eventually transforming my pain into poetry. I began taking regular train rides into the city to put my poetry up on the walls for people to read. I began meeting people and getting to know my way around places that scared me. I formed a band of artists, people I feel safe with. Now I’m the author of two books, with a third one on the way – and you’ll find that I refer to my childhood a lot in my writing. I tend to write a lot about ‘the streets’, and the only reason I can come up with for this is … some unplanned manifestation of the rough neighbourhood I grew up in.”

2. When did you know that you loved poetry and literature?

“I’ve always known I loved to read. It started with RL Stein, I think when I first learned to read. Then I was an avid fantasy reader, and I wanted to be a fantasy writer until around 2018 when I first stumbled across literary fiction and the classics, which I’m still devouring frivolously today (I have a very, very long reading list ahead of me!) This all coincided with my delving into reading and writing poetry, inspired by Leonard Cohen and Kurt Cobain’s lyrics, among other writers and spoken word performers. I guess I realised I wasn’t only an aspiring author, but a poet when I was about twenty years old. That was almost five years ago now.”

3. When did you start writing and what prompted it?

“The first stories I ever wrote were retellings of classic fairy tales, such as Hansel and Gretel – always with dark endings. I can track this back to being about eight years old. I guess it’s easy to see how I went from writing dark parodies of Little Red Riding Hood to fully-outlined fantasy novels set in Narnia-esque worlds. In high school, I wrote nineteen drafts of the same 150,000-word story over six years. Not all writers know they want to be a writer from a young age, but I certainly did.”

4. What has been the most fulfilling part of your journey?

“I would’ve thought the whole ‘being a published author’ thing would be the most fulfilling part of my writing journey, but I don’t think this is actually true. It wasn’t the success that fulfilled me, or even the striving to succeed, to complete a novel. I think it has been the friendships I’ve made over the last few years that have been the most fulfilling. The creative collaborations I’ve had with other writers. Having been a lonely kid, I guess it’s no surprise that friendship is the thing I value most when I think of success.”

5. What are some things that people do not know about you?

“I guess autism is one of the big ones, right? I’ve never really been all that public about it, but yes, I’m autistic, and I’ve got ADHD as well, and both challenge me every single day. I don’t drive because I have awful hand-eye coordination, not to mention fear. I have a tendency to hyper-fixate on topics and projects and then dissociate for weeks at a time. I struggle with numbers, have a stutter which I try my hardest to subdue, have body dysmorphia, have obsessive habits and compulsions, and of course, I struggle to maintain a social life too. Being autistic, I’m more predisposed to self-destructive behaviours and psychological conditions such as psychosis, which still affect me to this day. So that’s something most people don’t really know about me.”

6. Who is an author/public figure that you look up to and why? 

“I’ve already said his name: Kurt Cobain. I’ve always felt like my childhood was a lot like his, in a way, and the young rebel I became definitely felt represented by his philosophies and methods of creativity. He was deeply political and critical of oppressive systems, many of which have oppressed me as well. He turned his pain into art, just as I turn my pain into art. I guess there are thousands of artists like him out there, but his mainstream success reached me at an impressionable age, and he remains one of my favourite artists.”

7. Where do you see yourself in the future?

“Hopefully, I go on to write many more books in the future. I always wanted to be a writer, and now I am a writer. I just have to keep writing, don’t I? I wouldn’t mind trying my hand at other forms of art too. Music and film, maybe. I still need to travel the world and fill journals with diaries and stories. I have a road trip novel planned, but I can’t write it until I go on more road trips. I have a few fiction manuscripts I want to finish too. Maybe I’ll have children one day, ten years or more from now, and I’ll read them stories and nurture another generation of artists after me. The future is unwritten. It’s nerve-wracking and thrilling at the same time. I charge into mine full of big dreams and a little too much hope.”

You can learn more about Jaidyn and order his books here.