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This Is Northern New South Wales

Andrew Crockett – Acumen

On the eve of Andrew Crockett’s book-launch at the Byron Bay Writers Festival… we thought a few questions were in order to find more about the man and his creative passions, and this new book called Acumen.

Tell us a little about you Mr Andrew Crockett?
I moved to Byron in 1980 (from a 5000 acre property inland from forster nsw) when I was five weeks old (born in Bath, UK), then moved to mullum in 1981 and grew up in Mullumbimby. My family moved to Brisbane when i was 12 and my brother and I went to high school in the city.

The change was pretty intense. Country kid moves to the city. When I finished high school, I went to university up there but got smashed with Crohn’s Disease when i was 18…It put me out of action pretty much until I was 27.

I moved back down here in 2003 and started switch-foot.com and the first surfing book with mostly local legends of surfing and it all got a lot of energy about it, quite quickly. During the production of switch-foot II, I got really jazzed on the Acumen concept and my passion migrated from the classic surfing era to a whole new genre entirely. I get the feeling I will be working towards this genre for the rest of my life.

Do you still suffer from Crohns disease?
They have not found a cure yet. The disease is characterised by remission and activity. It comes in waves. Right now, I am one of the lucky ones who have found a treatment that keeps me somewhat level. That treatment is an infusion I have every 8 weeks. The drug is called ‘Infliximab.’ They treat people with Crohn’s and Rheumatoid arthritis with it. The incidence of Crohn’s Disease (in Australia) has doubled from 30, 000 to 60, 000 people in the last 5 years and many of those 60, 000 people are not able to work.

Where did the passion for storytelling come from, and how did it ignite the Switchfoot books?
I didn’t really tell many stories in either of the switch-foot surfing books. I asked the older surfers their opinions on a variety of, what I thought were, important subjects at the time. There is not much of my writing in either books…and that is the same with the Acumen book.

The passion to create the switch-foot books came from an intense dislike of the printed media at the time. I loved surfing but there wasn’t a magazine or a book I could pick up which represented what surfing was for me. There were dozens of churned out corporate magazines, but there wasn’t anything with any soul about it and surfing to me has a lot of soul, especially when you find someone like Chris Brock who has spent his whole life chasing the waves and not chasing a career.

Surfing has also been entwined within your books and life, have you always been passionate about the ocean?
The Ocean to me is a like a magical playground free from the temptations and distractions of the land, and it will always be a colour I dream of with humble gratitude.

You have a new book Acumen, is this new territory for you?
Absolutely, it a whole new genre. It is throwing me out there into the ‘real world’. I have been living in a surfing bubble for years, insulated from reality. The surfing bubble has hopefully given me the experience to try and take that success into the general audience.

Acumen is fit for right now, like switch-foot was fit for back then. Right now, the way the world is I feel an incredible sense of compassion for the planet and the people. What more can you do than spend your time trying to give back to the community.

Acumen feels incredible, I am really jazzed on it. I could give it to my grandmother, or one of the cool kids at the beach and I know they will get a buzz from it. Its fun, but it also makes you ask questions about life in general and what you believe in. Most people get to a place in their life where they are asking questions and looking for answers, Acumen goes there. There are simply 31 questions being asked to a diverse cross section of society. The question is at the top of each page and all the answers laid out under it. The contributors are from all over the planet, with differing backgrounds, religions, language and perspectives. The youngest contributor is 11, the oldest is 81.

Do you think surfers will like the Acumen book too?
Surfers, great grandmothers…..they will all get something from it.

There are so many subjects in the book, which bit intrigues you most?
It just blew my socks off reading what all these people say about the important issues. I will let readers draw their own conclusions about what this snapshot of an era actually means. I will say, however, that there is an overwhelming trend of gratitude, the majority are concerned about the world population and the evils of materialism and also, most contributors think euthanasia is a good thing.

If there is something personal and important to add… add it!
I would really appreciate the support of the local community to be there at the launch of  Acumen on Saturday August 6th at 12:30pm. IT IS FREE. Go to the ‘launchpad’ venue, within the Byron Bay Writers Festival site, just over the railway line near the old ‘Byron Beach Resort.’ It will be fun too, with comedian and contributor to the book, Mandy Nolan, fulfilling the role of ‘MC.’