Haydn Radford -A freelance writer born in Adelaide, who loves living here. I write about movies, theatre, entertainment, literary and art events. I am happy to promote & review your events. www.weekendnotes.com/profile/121822
Published March 28th 2016
Cameron Raynes, Adelaide screenwriter and author of The Last Protector and Y The Colour of Kerosene and other stories, fictionalises in his first novel First Person Shooter, his own struggle with his stutter. Cameron said, "I have modelled the protagonist, Jayden on myself to a large extent, which was scary because there was a time when I found my stammering devastating and humiliating."
The turning point for Raynes was accepting that he does have a stutter. "Now I don't let it stop me from taking risks and speaking to others, especially with asking questions of strangers," he said. "My first public talk where I actually declared in my introduction 'I stutter', I found invigorating and empowering."
Cameron Raynes with First Person Shooter. Photo: C. Raynes
Despite his stammering, Raynes has become an experienced and successful public speaker. His outreach work coincides with the release of First Person Shooter. In April 2016 he will deliver a talk in London at the Youth Panel of the Michael Palin Centre for Stammering Children and he has submitted a proposal to speak in July 2016, at the International Conference on Stuttering at Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
Cameron Raynes - Talking the talk at his book launch. Photo: C. Raynes
First Person Shooter is a frank and cleverly written story about Jayden, a 15 year old with a stutter who lives with his father on the outskirts of a small Australian country town. School is a torture for Jayden as his stutter restricts him from expressing to others what he is thinking and feeling. He constantly limits himself to one-word answers to avoid speaking. He especially experiences difficulty discussing topics during his Indonesian language class. Raynes allows the reader to be aware of what Jayden's thinking and feeling, constantly revealing the effects the negative impacts have on how Jayden sees himself and how he struggles to relate to others.
This easy to read story gives insight into Jayden's struggle with his stammering. The characters are realistic and are thoughtfully drawn and all serve to feed the story. What is clearly evident is Raynes' skill as a screenwriter as his memorable dialogue drives the narrative.
First Person Shooter explores the themes of death, loyalty, fear and friendship without detracting from the storytelling. Shannon, the girl who lives next door to Jayden, is his best friend, and they both share a fascination with rifle shooting. Jayden's passion with shooting is further complicated with his addiction to playing a computer game Call of Duty. He imagines firing automatic weapons at online enemies will relieve his anger and discontent from his stammering and the bullying he receives from Thommo, the son of a local bikie. There is drama when Jayden is found with live ammunition at school around the time there are media reports of another high school massacre in the USA.
Further drama involves the local bikie gang making crystal meth in a deserted farm house and are under siege from another bikie gang. Also Shannon's step brother, Pete, a local psychopath is threatening to settle his score with Shannon's mum who is about to be released from prison after doing time for shooting Pete's dad dead. Fortunately for Jayden he has support from Shannon, his beloved dog Charlie, his wise and friendly neighbour Nigel and his three mates, Brandon, Lucas and David, which makes for a gripping climax as tension increases.
This well written story is believable and thought provoking and realistically touches on issues so often exposed in the media concerning bullying and addiction to online games depicting violence and crime. The book is suitable for adults and students over 15 years and raises issues that are worthy of group discussion.