Red Herrings for Breakfast


Red Herrings for Breakfast

This beautifully written Australian story traces the history of brother and sister Annabet and Anders Ousback, who grew up living in the now iconic boatshed at Balmoral Beach in the 1950s. While it seemed idyllic, their lives were anything but. They were raised under the care of their overbearing, violent Swedish father and strict, emotionally distant mother, both of whom were unsupportive of the children's creativity and talents.

In this moving and engaging story Annabet traces the careers of her famous brother and herself, and the moments leading to his sudden and unexpected death. Although their paths diverged, they always remained supportive of one another, bound together by secrets of violence and abuse as well as their love for each other.

Annabet is a talented and creative individual, but she was always treated as less than her brother in a family that valued men over women. She was an influence in the developing fashion scene in Sydney, creating her own clothing line, which was sold in David Jones and other shops. Her memories of her dysfunctional and abusive childhood highlight how far society had developed – and not developed – since the 1950s.

Anders became an internationally recognised chef and trained and influenced many of the well-known chefs of today: Neil Perry, Serge Dansereau and Matt Moran amongst others. He was known as the 'Mr Fixit' of many restaurants in Sydney. He was also a talented ceramist and had many shows that displayed his art.

Despite their professional success, Annabet and her brother struggled emotionally their whole lives. Annabet was continuously criticised and undermined by her parents while Anders suffered in an era which did not approve of or legally recognise homosexuality. The story also covers the evolution of 1950s Sydney to the glamorous and excessive Sydney of the '80s. Supporters of the #metoo movement will find Annabet's story both heartbreaking and inspiring.

Annabet Ousback grew up in Scandia Boatshed Balmoral Beach, Sydney during the 1950s. After leaving school, she forged a career in the fashion industry. Writing has long been a passion and after the suicide of her brother, Anders, she began writing about their extraordinary childhood in the hope of understanding his decision to end his life. What started as a cathartic exercise developed into Red Herrings for Breakfast. She lives with her partner on Sydney's Northern Beaches.

Red Herrings for Breakfast
Bad Apple Press
Author: Annabet Ousback
RRP: $32.99

Interview with Annabet Ousback

Question: Why did you write Red Herrings for Breakfast?

Annabet Ousback: Over the years when I mentioned to people that I had grown up in the boatshed at Balmoral Beach it was often suggested I write about it. I mentioned this to my brother, Anders, who had experienced similar comments. We decided we'd write a book together, a sort of 'his and her' version of our childhood. Whereas I put pen to paper, at the time of his death, he had yet to start. I was filled with a focus and determination to fulfill our agreement.


Question: What did you learn, about yourself, whilst writing Red Herrings for Breakfast?

Annabet Ousback: Having to explore my life and confront some painful memories, I realised just how resilient I always was. That spirit was always there but was crushed many times. I think I became a mirror to my other's inadequacies and that's why she came down so hard on me at times. I have learnt to appreciate my strength and not apologise for it.


Question: Was it difficult reliving certain aspects/times of your life, whilst writing Red Herrings for Breakfast?

Annabet Ousback: It was very difficult and painful to relive certain aspects and times. But during the creative process I felt a sense of relief that I was confronting them head on and by writing about them with full disclosure brought understanding, acceptance and finally closure.


Question: What's the main message you hope readers take from your memoir?

Annabet Ousback: When I set out to write this memoir, I had no message in mind. This is just a heartfelt journey of two siblings who loved one another and somehow lost their way. I guess if I can leave anyone with my thoughts, they would be this. I believe we are born with our character. I believe we are born with a destiny to fulfill. I believe that those talents that surfaced during childhood should be nurtured and cultivated in adulthood (like me with my writing). I believe that we all have heartache during times in our lives and that no matter the setbacks we just have to put one foot in front of the other and move forward. Accept yourself and love yourself for all your flaws. And please speak out to those who love you if you are not coping. The heartache of suicide cuts so much deeper than your perceived shame of failure. My brother was loved, revered, but chose to remain silent. He may have fulfilled his destiny, but through Red Herrings for Breakfast we remain linked together through mine.


Question: What book are you reading, right now?

Annabet Ousback: The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver.


Interview by Brooke Hunter

Red Herrings for Breakfast 
Bad Apple Press
Author: Annabet Ousback 
RRP: $32.99 


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