In Wild Man, Alecia Simmons follows the coronial inquest into a police killing of a man who, mentally unhinged and high on drugs, ran amok at a hippie festival in New South Wales and threatened festival-goers with a hunting knife and crossbow. When a husband-and-wife team of police arrived, they tried to subdue the man but ultimately fired fatal shots.
In a powerful and compelling narrative, Alecia Simmonds reveals a web of issues entangled in this fascinating, bizarre and tragic case that cuts to the heart of many challenges facing contemporary Australia: mental illness, drug use, cultural clashes, toxic masculinity and violence.
Alecia is currently a postdoctoral fellow in law at the University of Technology, Sydney, a background which helped her take this incredibly challenging and complex case and shape it into a spectacularly clear-eyed examination of Australian society.
On writing Wild Man, Alecia has said: ‘Narrative non-fiction is ultimately a conceptually promiscuous genre to write within: everything can be potentially relevant to the story – conversations with friends, dreams, newspaper reports, academic studies and empirical observations. It’s about crediting the reader with the intelligence to form their own conclusions from the panoply of arguments, images and narratives that you give them.’