Shaken writer Ellis Gunn has been stalked by a stranger.

Content Warning: This article is about harassment and violence and could be a trigger for some readers.

Stalker, noun. A person who follows and watches another person for a long period of time in a way that is annoying or frightening.

Ellis Gunn calls him The Man.

The Man in the Park. The Man at the Auction House. The Man in the Coffee Shop.

The man sitting in his car in front of his house.

The man at the school of his young son.

She knows his real name, of course. The police too.

But this story is not about Man. This is Ellis Gunn, a Scottish-born poet who lives in Adelaide with her husband and children.

Today his memoirs Shaken is being published, and alongside the usual nerves a writer feels when releasing a body of work into the wild, there’s another emotion Gunn feels: fear.

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“It’s quite nerve-wracking. My worries about the stalker possibly finding out…I mean, he’s been gone for years. And I can’t imagine he cares anymore. mine,” Gunn said. Mama Mia. Her voice is warm and calm on the phone; its pleasing Scottish cadence.

“But it’s just the idea that he might google my name out of the blue and find that I wrote about the experience. And then if he reads the book, he’s definitely going to be in anger about it, I would say. Because he’s an alien, I have no idea what he’s capable of.

“I don’t know how his mind works and to what extremes he is potentially willing to go, to get revenge on me by telling the story.”

The story – Gunn’s story – is both easy to read and challenging. You will probably devour the pages of Shaken in one night… and I have to leave the light on afterwards.

The memoir recounts her harmless – and chilling – encounter with the man at an auction house and how quickly that first encounter turned into harassment. How she went to the police. How, although sympathetic and understanding, they really couldn’t do anything because nothing had actually been “done” to him. How she was frozen with fear and paralyzed by panic attacks.

Gunn also incorporates other traumas in her life, including domestic violence and sexual assault, into her memoir. Language is beautiful, even if what it describes is not.

“When I started writing [the book], that was not what I intended to write. I was going to write a book about homesickness and immigration to Australia from Scotland,” she admits.

“I was thinking about all the things that had happened to me since I came here, and I thought about the stalker, and I started writing about it. And then the story kind of poured out of me almost as if it were writing itself.