JL Crozier, life of unquiet times
Judy Crozier was born in 1954 in British-held Malaya, now Malaysia, during the ‘emergency’ of the communist insurgency. Her mining engineer father and her mother – Laurence (Laurie) and Sheila Crozier – wore firearms on their hips. Barbed wire was a familiar motif.
Her older brothers, Ross and Brian, were born, respectively, in India and Bolivia.
Social discord was normal to Crozier life.
When the Croziers moved to Mawchi in Burma, Karen rebels fought the Burmese army on moonlit nights in the front garden, while Dacoits (bandits) replenished funds through kidnap and ransom.
Ross and Brian were sent to boarding school in Australia, travelling long hours by air to wherever Laurie was posted.
At six, Judy was living in Saigon, Vietnam, and attending the French Catholic convent school, Les Oiseaux. The war was heating up, and Laurie was attached to the Australian Embassy.
Children reflect the complex relationships around them: Judy took to Catholicism, yet was loyal to her mother’s Anglicanism and absolutely sympathetic to the Vietnamese Buddhists’ anger against the regime of Catholic President Ngo Dinh Diem.
War keeps children indoors; Judy had read Thackeray and Dickens by the time she was nine, when she wasn’t drawing on walls or on the flysheets of books.
Back in Australia, at school, Judy found that being odd (and who wouldn’t have been) gets you bullied. A loner, she filled in her time with drawing and writing.
A 70s hippie, Judy only barely gained her BA from Melbourne University, with (finally) a history major. ‘I did manage to slide quietly from religion to atheism,’ she says. ‘This was a great relief!’
A fascination with history remains.
Every other decade or so since then, Judy has returned to study, eventually gaining her Master of Creative Writing in 2007.
A short stint in local journalism ignited a passionate involvement in community activism and in the Australian Labor Party. In the 80s, Judy served as a Labor Councillor on the then Fitzroy City Council, in inner Melbourne.
She also spent some years editing the then ALP journal, Labor Star, and contributed to ALP policy committees for many years.
The breakup of Judy’s relationship led to a move to another suburb with her sons Alan and Tom, and the ‘angst of protracted renovation.’ She even sang blues with a band for a while.
Serious time went into writing fiction, and Judy’s short stories began to win awards both in in Australia and overseas.
There are now two novel manuscripts seeking publishers: After Jehovah, based in 1860s London, and another novel based largely in wartime Vietnam.
Judy was awarded a Varuna Publisher Fellowship to work on her ms After Jehovah.
‘I am planning a third novel drawing on the witch crazes in Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries,’ Judy says. ‘Here is much under-told women’s history, not to mention some widely divergent versions of reality!’
Judy was for many years a sessional teacher of creative writing at Melbourne’s Centre of Adult Education (CAE).
Judy Crozier currently lives in France.