Thu, Feb 21, 2002 - Page 11 News List

`Blue Day' author strikes publishing gold

Not so much an author as a writer of photo captions, Bradley Trevor Greive has nonetheless written himself a ticket in the publishing world

By Gavin Phipps  /  STAFF REPORTER

It's hard to picture the clean-cut, soft-spoken and easygoing Australian author Bradley Trevor Greive toting the latest in NATO-issue hardware. After all, the contents of his series of bestselling heart-warming illustrated narratives -- The Blue Day Book, Dear Mum and Looking for Mr Right -- are relaxing, thought provoking and most un-war-like.

Until the early 1990s, however, the mild-mannered Greive was a heavy weapons specialist in command of a paratroop rifle platoon in the elite Australian airborne battalion, 3RAR. However odd it may sound, this military background was, according to the author, one of the main driving forces behind the concept that has seen him sell roughly two million copies of his books worldwide to date.

"You learn to survive in the paras with a sense of humor. It might be a bit of a masochistic type of humor, but you learn to deal with whatever is thrown at you through humor," Greive said. "Which, after all, is not that far removed from how we deal with life in general." After leaving the army Greive did a brief stint as a cartoonist with the Sydney Morning Herald. There he tamed his rather brash military humor and went on to enjoy success with a series of cartoons that depicted famous and infamous people at moments during their childhood.

On leaving the newsroom to concentrate on his own projects and find a suitable publisher, Greive soon found that getting a book published was not quite the easy task he'd initially expected it to be.

"When I quit the newspaper business my life took a downturn. I'd had manuscripts rejected by about 30 Australian and 10 US publishers and was feeling pretty down about life in general," he continued. "The idea for the book came to me after I wrote a line of poetry in a cafe in Sydney while feeling blue."

After penning the sentence "the world turns gray and I grow tired," adding a picture of a tortoise sleeping on its back and picturing a gray world, Greive suddenly realized that this monochrome way of looking at life was how dogs saw life and they never seemed miserable. And thus was born the concept behind The Blue Day Book, a book of less than 100 pages of photos and even few sentences. It would be another two years before Greive finally saw his concept in print.

The wait was worth it, however. Less than six months after The Blue Day Book was published, Greive's collection of photographs of animals with human characteristics found itself not only in the number one position on Australia's bestseller list, but had also made the number seven slot on The New York Times' bestseller list.

Since the phenomenal success of his first photo narrative, The Blue Day Book in 2000, the former paratrooper has moved as far away from satire as is possible. The most celebrated of all antipodean writers, both at home and overseas now concentrates on a more easily appreciated and mellow style of humor. His style is now far less reliant on satire and is instead aimed at everyday folk and their thoughts apropos to love and life regardless of gender or race.

"The books are fun. There's nothing special to them and they don't preach, which is one of the reasons I guess they've been so successful in so many parts of the world," he continued. "They put suggestions forward and people see themselves or their friends in the images."

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