Fencing around drugs

By Clare Quirk
Updated November 6 2012 - 4:36pm, first published April 9 2010 - 1:59am
THE WORD’S OUT: Shane Worrell with a copy of Tom Climbs the Fence. Picture: BILL CONROY

SHANE Worrell’s debut novel paints an honest and raw story of how drug addiction affects not just the users, but all those close to them.Tom Climbs the Fence is set in Bendigo and told from the perspective of a neighbour and close friend trying to understand and hoping to save a lifelong friend from heroin addiction.The writer and Bendigo Advertiser sub-editor said he drew from his own experiences to produce an honest account of the realities of trying to help a family member or friend through addiction.His sister, Cristie, committed suicide in 2007. She was 27.“This followed almost 10 years of heroin addiction, alcohol abuse and prescription medication problems.”The book focuses on the more emotional consequences of addiction, instead of the graphic drug use that is often portrayed in popular culture.For Shane, 29, his sister’s fight had a profound effect on the whole family.“It was impossible to deal with a lot of the time, but when it’s happening, you just have to.“It seems there are so many other people going through stuff like this. But not much is heard from them. There’s a stigma.“I felt I needed to capture not only the pain of it all, but also the humanity of people involved in a situation like this, whether they’re on drugs or not.”However, Shane is quick to emphasise that Tom Climbs the Fence is not about his sister, but rather protagonist Tom and his battle with a drug addiction, as told by narrator Jack.“The characters are fictitious, but the consequences and effects of these problems are as real as I could make them.”He began writing the book in October 2008 and said his main goal was to create awareness.“It’s a situation that anyone could find themselves in, and the problems aren’t just for the drug users, but also the people around them.“This isn’t a judgement on drugs; that’s not my debate.“It’s a fictitious account of what can and does happen. “Although it’s a heavy topic, I think a lot of people will find it an entertaining and interesting read.”The process of writing the book has created some comfort for the budding author.“It’s a positive step not just for me, but for the issue itself.“From a writing point of view it’s been a great experience. I’ve had a few attempts at writing a novel and I just thought `why not write something worthwhile?’ - something important.”Tom Climbs the Fence will be released on Monday and will be available at Collins, Bendigo, and Book City, Centro Lansell, for $19.95.An official launch will be held on May 17 at Readings in Lygon Street, Carlton, and the book will be stocked at independent stores across the country. Details: www.tomclimbsthefence.com