She managed to reduce a large chunk of the Australian female population to tears every Wednesday night.
Now Debra Oswald, the co-creator and head writer of successful TV series Offspring, is reaching for the heartstrings again in her new book Useful.
Mystery surrounds whether another season of Offspring will be commissioned, but fans pleading for the program to continue can fill the void with the writer’s latest work.
Useful is Oswald’s first work of adult fiction, one that bears her creative signature. It’s the story of messy human entanglements told with heart and dash of humour.
Her passionate, quirky and clever nature is reflected in everything she creates, and so is her perfectionism.
“No writer is ever satisfied,” Oswald says about finally completing the book.
“I am just excited that it is actually going to go out into the world and people can read the story and make their own mind up about it.”
Useful’s main character Sullivan Moss is useless.
Once charming, he’s now such a loser that he can’t even commit suicide successfully.
Waking up in hospital after falling the wrong way on a rooftop, he comes to a decision, after a life of regrets, to do one useful thing. He shouldn’t waste perfectly good organs just because he’s an idiot, so decides he’s going to donate a kidney.
This gift to a stranger will make up for some of his mistakes, he thinks.
“I hope most readers’ lives are better that ‘Sully’s’ life, but I think most people have had some experiences of those failings and can relate to him – although his situation is more extreme,” Oswald says.
Decades of ideas
It took Oswald about three years to complete Useful in between writing scripts for Offspring, however she says the ideas and themes have been flowing for decades, scribbled down in a notebook.
Oswald says the support of her long-time partner, and Sydney ABC radio presenter, Richard Glover, is critical to her writing.
Glover is one of her first readers.
“Poor Richard is not just required to read drafts, but listen to me raving on about half-baked story ideas, as I’m changing my mind mid-scene – he has to be my audience for all of that,” Oswald says.
For Oswald, being a professional writer became more than just a pipe dream.
“Growing up in the outer Western suburbs in Sydney, in a very sedate suburban life, I was terribly worried as a kid I could never be a writer because my life was so boring,” she says
“But I have always made a living out of writing.
“And at times when I wasn’t having the success in my work that I wanted, there was satisfaction in knowing I have made living out of being a writer for 30 something years.”
— richard glover (@rglover702) February 13, 2015