Morwell-raised Meg now a published author

Published: Morwell's Meg Vertigan with her first novel 'The Strong Dress'. Photograph Zaida Glibanovic



MORWELL-raised Meg Vertigan has just released her first fiction novel ‘The Strong Dress’, a coming-of-age story that delves into an uncomfortable analysis of power and gender structures, institutional misogyny and the trope of the mad woman in literature.

Ms Vertigan’s book is influenced by a real-life story set in 1977; the book follows 17-year-old Kate from Sydney’s North Shore—the spirited teenager from suburban Beecroft who dreams of becoming Cleo magazine’s editor.

Kate’s wild nature leads her parents to seek psychiatric help from experimental Doctor Jack Grafton, who is not all he seems. With strange treatments and deep sleep therapy, the book travels through difficult scenes of medical misconduct.

Fellow author Keri Glastonbury said it was “like Puberty Blues for the mirror side of the harbour”.

Ms Vertigan is passionate about exploring the mad woman trope in literature.

“I’m really interested in the representation of mad women in writing and film, so that was a big part of it,'” she said.

The author said the main themes were to question gender and society and explore that “line of professionalism” where doctors were entrusted with much power without question in a time of scientific overconfidence.

Ms Vertigan takes inspiration from Daphne du Maurier and contemporary authors Tim Wilton and Christos Tsiolkas.

The Sydney Morning Herald praised Vertigan for her excellence at differentiating narrative voice.

The book has received positive reviews on good reads with a five-star rating one week into its release.

Ms Vertigan said she used her own teenage experiences to give life to her characters.

“It’s made up, but it’s heavily borrowed from my teenage years where you’d sneak off somewhere …(Sorry Mum) and stole the alcohol out of the parent’s cupboard,” she said.

The published author hopes to release more works based on her own upbringing in Morwell.

“You know how people say to write what you know…when I look back to my childhood, actually, it is pretty interesting because I was born in Yallourn,” she said.

“Seeing these houses, cut in half on the back of a truck… people’s kitchens, you’d always want to look into the house and the kitchen would always be wallpapered and it would be that 70s vibe.

“Swimming in the Hazelwood pondage is something I think is very strange…even grosser as a teenager, we used to skinny dip in there.”

Now a literature lecturer at the University of Newcastle, Ms Vertigan returns to Morwell every semester break to see as much of her parents as possible.

Copies of Vertigan’s ‘The Strong Dress’ are available at QBD books and online at most major book retailers.