Leaping into Waterfalls explores the rich, tumultuous life of Gillian Mears, one of Australia's most significant writers of the last forty years.
To most people Gillian Mears appeared to be a shy woman from Grafton, but her lived and imaginative life was rich with adventure, risk and often transgressive passion. In her award-winning and acclaimed novels and short stories Mears wrote fearlessly of the dark undercurrents of country and family life and probed the depths and complexity of human desire.
In her late twenties the first symptoms of multiple sclerosis became manifest, yet Mears was not diagnosed with the disease until she was thirty-eight. Those years of uncertainty about her health affected her profoundly. She travelled to the Philippines, Venezuela and North America seeking cures from faith healers, and experimented with various natural therapies, desperate to believe some miracle might be possible. While recovering from a near-fatal condition that resulted in open-heart surgery, Mears set off alone traversing the country in a de-commissioned ambulance. By her mid-forties Mears was confined to a wheelchair. In great financial distress and constant pain, she continued to write and publish until her death in 2016.
With an eye for posterity, Mears amassed an extensive collection of diaries, letters, manuscripts, photographs, recordings and ephemera, and deposited it with the Mitchell Library. She was a prolific correspondent with significant figures of the Australian cultural landscape - Gerald Murnane, David Malouf, Tim Winton, Elizabeth Jolley, Helen Garner, Drusilla Modjeska, Kate Grenville and Marr Grounds. This insightful biography draws on her archive and reads Mears' life and work within that broader cultural community to celebrate her truly extraordinary achievements and adventures.
Leaping into Waterfalls draws readers back to Mears' work and establishes her as one of the most important Australian writers of the last forty years.