Clarence Valley Ambassador Gillian Mears

Award-winning author Gillian Mears dies

"THE town sank into my blood and it crept into my bones and it definitely crept into my fiction." - Gillian Mears, 2014.

GILLIAN Mears wasn't born in Grafton but after moving to the city with her family at the age of nine it quickly became a part of her.

She said she came to see the city as an "enchanted realm".

"I can still get that feeling of enchantment even walking under the trees in Victoria St, which I do believe are different to any other shade street tree," she said.

The Clarence was also where her love of horses developed, a connection that grew into her novel Foal's Bread, which won the $50,000 Prime Minister's Award and was a finalist in the Miles Franklin Award.

After Foal's Bread, Mears launched her next novel, The Cat with the Coloured Tail, at the Grafton Regional Gallery.

The Cat with the Coloured tail was inspired by Ippy, the "little street cat, weak but kicking and covered in sores" that found its way to the author's Mary St unit back in 2003.

Her other novels were The Grass Sister, which was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, as was The Mint Lawn that also won The Australian/Vogel Award.

She also published collections of short stories, including Ride a Cock Horse, Fineflour and A Map of the Gardens.

In 2014 Mears was named an ambassador for the Clarence Valley.

The award-winning author died on Monday after living with the degenerative effects of multiple sclerosis for 20 years.

"I've certainly been able to grow a lot of stories in this ever so rich Clarence River mud, many stories and then many books and novels. There are many writers here and many artists of every kind. It sort of makes me think there's something about the tributaries, the wild tributaries of the Clarence that must produce artists of very high calibre."

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