The DJ Sessions


How Bernard Fanning Played Cupid For ‘Boy Swallows Universe’ Author Trent Dalton

The | February 2, 2024

Trent Dalton, author of the award-winning book turned Netflix hit series Boy Swallows Universe, has been open about his love of music for years – particularly when it comes to Powderfinger. But did you know that the Aussie rockers changed his life?

Dalton recalled his “favourite Powderfinger story” at the Not On Your Rider Xmas Show in 2022, with video footage resurfacing ever since the Netflix series recently went viral.

His story begins on the 10th of January, 2000 – the day he met his future wife. “I start my first job as a journalist and I run into this girl, Fiona, and she works at the same magazine [Brisbane News] I work at,” Dalton began.

“And she sits across from me, and I kind of fall in love with her really quickly, but I can’t say how much I care about her for friggin eight months.”

It wasn’t until Powderfinger released their fourth album, Odyssey Number Five, in September 2000 that Dalton worked up the courage to (sort of) ask her out. He recalled, “Hey, Fiona, are you going to the launch for Odyssey Number Five?”

They had smokes and a shared love of Powderfinger, although Fiona was wary of falling in love with anybody new. Fast forward, and Dalton is at the Powerhouse, and Bernard Fanning is in the room. Dalton grabbed a Powderfinger poster off the wall and asked Fanning if he’d sign it.

Fanning signed it, and Dalton took the poster back to Fiona, hoping to win her affection. The poster read, “Fiona, this boy really likes you”. Dalton then pointed to Fiona in the crowd – 22 years later, she’s still by his side. The pair are married and have two daughters.

Dalton joked that his daughters are lucky to be girls, as he would have named a son Bernard. You can watch the video below.

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In 2020, Dalton tweeted after ABC Melbourne shared how Fanning changed his life, “A radio love story about how a rock god helped me get the girl and why Boy Swallows Universe doesn’t exist without Bernard Fanning. Ain’t life sometimes just a series of small kindnesses!”

Last September, the 20th-anniversary edition of Powderfinger’s album Vulture Street skyrocketed to #1 on the ARIA Albums Chart, Australian Album Chart, and Vinyl Chart. Powderfinger now holds the record for the longest time between an Australian album debuting at #1 and returning to #1.

Boy Swallows Universe is the 2018 debut book by Trent Dalton, a semi-autobiographical telling of a life growing up within Brisbane’s underworld.

The book (and subsequent Netflix series) follows 13-year-old Eli Bell, who has a mute brother, Gus; an absent father, Robert; a heroin-dealing stepfather, Lyle; and a drug-addict mother, Frankie.

The television adaptation stars young star Felix Cameron portraying Eli Bell in his young teen years and Zac Burgess as older Eli Bell alongside renowned Australian actors Bryan Brown, Deborah Mailman, Travis Fimmel (Vikings, Black Snow), Phoebe Tonkin (The Vampire Diaries, H2O: Just Add Water), Simon Baker (The Mentalist, The Devil Wears Prada), and rapper, actor, record label owner and all-around legend Adam Briggs as Eli’s imprisoned pen pal. Check out a trailer for the series below.

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