New podcast host Brooke Dunnell teases out the emotional undercurrents of the harvest in her chat with Locust Summer author, David Allan-Petale

The Fremantle Press Podcast
The Fremantle Press Podcast
New podcast host Brooke Dunnell teases out the emotional undercurrents of the harvest in her chat with Locust Summer author, David Allan-Petale

Our 2021 Fogarty Literary Award winner, Brooke Dunnell, is behind the wheel and driving this year’s Fremantle Press podcast series. In her first episode Brooke visits the Western Australian Wheatbelt to experience the heat and intensity of the harvest through the eyes of her guest, novelist and combine harvester aficionado, David Allan-Petale. His book, Locust Summer, charts the progress of Rowan, a reluctant son and temporary farmhand, bent on rejecting the land he grew up on. David says, ‘Rowan goes from minus ten at the start to zero at the end … so it’s a homecoming story and it’s a redemption story, but [the novel] doesn’t show you that redemption, it shows you the possibility of redemption and the journey that it takes to get to zero.’

David, whose time as a reporter in the Wheatbelt helped shape the book, experienced his own summer harvest when he spent a season on a friend’s farm. He says he was glad he did the harvest because it moved him beyond the simple mechanics of it and clued him into the emotional undercurrents of belonging: ‘The main thing I would say was that doing the harvest gave me an appreciation for how dedicated people are.’

Topics discussed:

  • Advice for unpublished writers
  • Does being a journalist make you a better novelist?
  • Feeling your way into complex characters; embracing the weirdness of humanity
  • Writing the harvest; exploring work, land, the environment and belonging

Locust Summer is available in all good bookstores and online.

Show notes

About the host

Brooke Dunnell is the author of the short story collection Female(s and) Dogs, which was a finalist for the 2020 Carmel Bird Digital Literary Award. Her short stories have been recognised in competitions including the Bridport Short Story Prize 2019 and the Neilma Sidney Short Story Prize 2017, and have appeared in The Best Australian StoriesNew Australian Stories 2, The Big Issue Fiction Edition and other anthologies. Brooke has worked as a creative writing mentor, workshop facilitator and judge in various creative writing competitions. She has a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Western Australia and lives in Perth. Her novel, The Glass House, won the 2021 Fogarty Literary Award and will be published in November 2022.

Connect with Brooke at, on Twitter @TheSpineLabel or Instagram @Brooky.Brooks.

About the guest

David Allan-Petale is a writer living between bush and sea north of Perth, Western Australia. He worked for many years as a journalist in WA with the ABC and internationally with BBC World. Written while travelling the globe over five years, Locust Summer was shortlisted for the Australian/Vogel’s Literary Award (2017) and was developed through a fellowship at Varuna, the National Writers’ House.

Connect with David at, on Twitter @DaveAllanPetale or Facebook @DavidAllanPetaleAuthor.

Locust Summer is available in all good bookstores and online.

Books, authors and other stuff mentioned

Boola Bardip, WA Museum

Ernest Hemingway

Ford Madox Ford

Gabrielle Carey

Graham Greene

Judith Rossell

Laurie Steed

The Aubrey-Maturin series by Patrick O’Brien

The Australian/Vogel’s Literary Award

The Fogarty Literary Award

The worst photo of David Allan-Petale, according to David Allan-Petale:

The quote David read was:

‘My own belief is that one regards oneself, if one is a serious writer, as an instrument for experiencing. 

Life – all of it – flows through this instrument and is distilled into works of art …’

May Sarton, Journal of a Solitude (1973), transcribed by Gillian Mears 21 January 1997, published in Leaping Into Waterfalls: The Enigmatic Gillian Mears by Bernadette Brennan (A&U)

Toni Jordan

Varuna Residential Fellowships

Original music
‘Letter to a Daughter of St George’, from the Meat Lunch EP: Songs from Floaters. Written by Alan Fyfe. Performed by Trevor Bentley (guitar and vocals – @trevormb) and Chris Parkinson (harmonica). Produced by Blake Carnaby of Nuglife studios with impresario work by Benjamin P. Newton.

Sound engineering
Aidan D’Adhemar, Fremantle PA Hire

Produced by
Claire Miller, Fremantle Press Marketing and Communications

This podcast was produced in Walyalup in Whadjuk Boodja, on the lands of the Noongar people.

Books discussed
Locust Summer

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