Hope a key ingredient in author Craig Silvey’s new teen tale

Headshot of Kellie Balaam
Kellie BalaamAlbany Advertiser
Fremantle author Craig Silvey.
Camera IconFremantle author Craig Silvey. Credit: Supplied

Australian author Craig Silvey was in Albany to launch his latest novel Honeybee — billed as a heartbreaking but life-affirming coming-of-age novel that tells the story of a transgender teen.

Following an 11-year wait, Silvey is hoping to continue the success of his bestseller Jasper Jones, which has sold more than 600,000 copies around the world and been adapted into a critically acclaimed film and stage play.

Honeybee is about a young teenager, Sam Watson, who climbs over the rail of a traffic bridge late one night with the intention of ending their life.

At the other end of the bridge stands an old man, Vic, who is smoking his last cigarette before ending his own struggle.

Get in front of tomorrow's news for FREE

Journalism for the curious Australian across politics, business, culture and opinion.


Sam and Vic see each other across the void, and their fates are forever changed.

“Despite the bleak opening scene, Honeybee takes us to some joyful, life-affirming places,” Silvey said.

“It’s a hopeful novel about the importance of love, support, community and understanding.”

Silvey said the story was inspired by a night encounter by his brother and sister-in-law when they found a young person attempting to take their own life.

“Late one night a couple of years ago, my brother was driving home after picking his partner up from the airport,” he said.

“As they drove across an overpass, he noticed somebody standing on the other side of the railing, looking down.

Author Craig Silvey's latest novel Honeybee.
Camera IconAuthor Craig Silvey's latest novel Honeybee. Credit: Supplied

“They volunteered the reasons why they had been driven to attempt suicide. They were transgender. They had no network of support. They had been abandoned by their family. They saw no pathway that led beyond their anguish and pain.

“Police and an ambulance arrived. The officers grabbed the young person and pulled them back over the railing,

“Over the following days, we tried in vain to reconnect with this person.

“ However, they had a very common name and proved difficult to locate. So I found myself worried about a very real person in a very real predicament, who largely existed in my imagination.

“Honeybee began as an attempt to understand them, and to tell their story.”

The Fremantle author will launched his book at Centennial Stadium with author Brooke Davis on Thursday.

“It will likely feel a bit more intimate than most literary events, because for the most part I’m catching up with friends,” he said.

The South West has a really generous, sophisticated reading culture, so it’s always fertile ground for interesting discussion.”

Silvey said by telling Sam’s story, he hoped to offer a deeper understanding of challenges faced by young gender diverse people.

“It’s also my hope that trans and non-binary readers, particularly those in their teens, can read Honeybee and identify with Sam’s story and feel represented, and visible, and recognised, and respected and galvanised,” he said.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails