First-time Bendigo Writers Festival author Julie Proudfoot has a clear message she wants to communicate in her debut novella, The Neighbour.
"It's very clear for me - the most important thing for me is for people to take away an understanding of when someone has a mental health illness, that they’ve come from a point to get to that point," she said.
A psychological page-turner, The Neighbour is set in contemporary suburbia and is loosely based on a true event 30 years ago.
Proudfoot said the tragic event, which involves the death of a young child, was something still not unheard of in country areas.
The event causes characters and dynamics between characters to psychologically unravel.
My main focus in the book is to explore the idea of mental un-wellness.Julie Proudfoot
Proudfoot said the main focus of the book was to explore the idea of "mental un-wellness".
"Usually you know lots of people with mental health problems but you don’t always know how they got to that point and if it's biological or anything else," she said.
"This book is about all sorts of things - guilt and redemption and responsibility - but the most important thing is mental health and looking into someone’s life to see how they get to that point.
"My main focus in the book is to explore the idea of mental un-wellness and how mental un-wellness comes about."
Proudfoot, who won the Seizure Viva La Novella Prize 2014 for the book, will officially launch The Neighbour as part of the festival at The Hub at 2pm Saturday.
"I’m talking to Kirsten Krauth, who’s another debut author from Castlemaine, at the launch."
Along with Krauth, Proudfoot and another female author will also take part in a panel discussion focusing on female teenage characters.
Proudfoot said while she was nervous about the panel as a first-time author, festival goers could look forward to passionate discussion about teenage girls in the modern world at the Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon panel at 10am.
"The really unique thing for me about the panel is that it’s talking about coming of age but specifically for teenage girls," she said.
"I think in the context of talking about coming of age stories, they are often about male teenagers, so the opportunity to talk exclusively about female teenage characters is I think a bit unique as far as panels in writers festivals."
For Bendigo Writers Festival events and times, visit www.bendigowritersfestival.com.au