Harry Hawker the movie?: ‘A grand narrative set in marvellous locations’

Readers are responding very positively to my latest book, A Great and Restless Spirit: the incredible true story of Harry Hawker.

One of them told me it was ‘a grand narrative set in marvellous locations’, and suggested it would make a great movie.

‘a grand narrative set in marvellous locations’

The other good news, especially for regional and international readers, is that ‘A Great and Restless Spirit’ is now available as an e-book.

Print ISBN: 9781925380415

Print copy available from Avid Reader bookshop, Brisbane, Australia or you can order it through any other good bookshop.

e-book ISBN: 9781925380453

Already the e-book is available in different formats, including:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=9781925380453&crid=2IQ7IAR0RW49A&sprefix=9781925380453%2Caps%2C1358&ref=nb_sb_noss

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-great-and-restless-spirit-darryl-r-dymock/1141254251?ean=9781925380453

Keep an eye out for the movie!

Until next time

Darryl Dymock

‘When a full 24 hours had passed without any contact, no one had to say what that meant …’ – Exclusive book extract

Exclusive extract from ‘A Great and Restless Spirit’ by D R Dymock:

Unaware of the mid-ocean drama, Muriel continued to mark off the hours Harry had been in the air. As the day went on, she began to prepare to head over to Brooklands, hopeful she would soon be reunited with her husband. There was quiet anticipation among the Sopwith representatives, military officers, and government and aero club officials gathered at Brooklands that Monday afternoon, 19 May, 1919. It promised to be a momentous occasion for the future of cross-Atlantic travel and for British aviation.

Muriel and her brother, RAF Captain Laurence Peaty, had driven over from Hook in the Sunbeam. Word had come through that the American fliers were trapped in the Azores by the weather, so NC-4 had not yet been able to make the final hop. There was still a possibility that Harry and Grieve could claim the transatlantic gong.

Nevertheless there was also an undercurrent of anxiety about the two fliers. No messages had been received; no sightings reported. Based on the reported Sunday departure time from Newfoundland, by Muriel’s 22-hour timeline the Atlantic should touch down at Brooklands at around 4.30pm. Unlike some others, she wasn’t worried by the lack of contact with the plane because she knew Harry and Grieve weren’t counting on the wireless during the flight.

But as the afternoon ticked by, concern started to grow. The Royal Air Force sent planes out from its Aldergrove base in Ireland to probe along the transatlantic route, but the pilots came back with nothing to report.

When Muriel crossed off hour number 22, and there was still no sign of the plane, the tension among the waiting group must have been palpable. They all knew that by then the Sopwith’s fuel tank would be close to empty. When a full 24 hours had passed without any contact, no one had to say what that meant.

Title: A Great and Restless Spirit: The incredible true story of Harry Hawker, Australian test pilot, aircraft designer, car racing driver, speedboat racer, world-beater

Author: D R Dymock

ISBN: 9781925380415

Publisher: Armour Books, Brisbane

RRP: AU$33.99 paperback

Publication date: March 2022

A poet and a king thought this pilot was dead, but …

High-profile mystery plane crashes have confounded and intrigued the world since flight began – but this dramatic true story was the first.

A Great And Restless Spirit by D R Dymock tells of the disappearance of record-breaking Australian pilot Harry Hawker and his navigator over the Atlantic Ocean in 1919… and of how kings and nations were captivated by the event. The book has just been released.

A transatlantic feat

In May 1919, 30-year-old Harry Hawker and his navigator attempted the first transatlantic flight, from Newfoundland to Ireland, and in a plane with no radio or radar.

Millions waited for news of their triumph – but the plane never arrived. After six days, and with no sightings or leads, almost everyone gave them up for dead. Banjo Paterson wrote a eulogy for Harry’s passing. King George V sent Harry’s English wife, Muriel Hawker, a telegram of condolence. But Muriel refused to believe her husband was dead.

If things don’t go quite right, never give up hope, Harry had told Muriel before he left. She took him at his word.

‘As there seemed to be two sides to the question whether he was alive or not, and no definite proof of either,’ Muriel said, ‘I decided I’d cling firmly to the belief that he was alive.’

An extraordinary life

Muriel Hawker’s faith in her daredevil husband had reaped rewards before. Harry’s ‘need for speed’ made him a fierce competitor in car and speedboat races around the globe and, when he wasn’t racing, Harry designed and tested WWI planes.

His boss, aviation guru Tommy Sopwith, believed Harry was a genius – but Muriel kept her husband’s feet firmly on the ground. Would this remarkable woman’s hope be rewarded this time, too?

In A Great and Restless Spirit, author D R  Dymock tells the incredible true story of Harry Hawker MBE AFC and the woman who refused to give up on him.

About the author: D R (Darryl) Dymock (author site) is the Brisbane-based author of several well-received non-fiction books, including Hustling Hinkler and The Chalkies. This is his second aviation biography. He is a mentor with the Queensland Writers Centre, and an Adjunct Senior Research Fellow at Griffith University.

About the book:

Armour Books, Brisbane | AU$33.99 paperback | ISBN: 9781925380415

Available through Avid Reader Bookshop, Brisbane or order through any other good bookshop.

Countdown to a Great and Restless book launch

Here’s A Great and Restless Spirit in good company for March events at Avid Reader Bookshop, West End, Brisbane.

A Great and Restless Spirit will be launched at Avid Reader at 6.30pm AEST on Friday 25th March, 2022. And you’re invited! In person, or online.

All you have to do is click on this link to register for the launch. You can also pre-order the book (ISBN 9781925380415. Armour Books)

Here’s an extract from A Great and Restless Spirit to whet your reading appetite:

Outside, the weather matched their mood as they set off—sombre, dark and cold. The wind was whipping the trees around their house, and the rain danced in the headlights as they headed to Euston Station. For some reason, despite the almost cyclonic conditions, Harry opted to take the Sunbeam.

The big car might well have had a neatly riveted bonnet, but it also had no hood over the passenger compartment. So, as they roared through deserted London streets in drenching rain slashed by an occasional knife edge of sleet, Harry crouched behind the whisper of a windscreen.

Muriel hunched in the well on the passenger side, her head resting against her husband’s knee. She quietly wished that she’d married someone without ambition, like a farmer’s son. Someone who didn’t feel the need to go where no man had ever gone before. If only I could sleep away the time ahead, she thought.

When they reached Euston station, they had one final hug, said one final goodbye. As Harry disappeared into the carriage, Muriel was inconsolable. She couldn’t wait for the train to pull out.

Heading disconsolately back to the car, all she could think was that Harry had gone from her. The only thing she could do was wait for the future to unfold itself.

A Great and Restless Spirit: Harry Hawker THE VIDEO

I’d like to introduce you to Harry Hawker, the subject of my latest book, A Great and Restless Spirit. And below you can find a link to the YouTube video.

ISBN: 978-1-925380-415

Harry Hawker was an Australian-born test pilot, aircraft designer, racing car driver, speedboat racer, and all-round world-beater.

In his day he was a celebrity before there were celebrities.

But he wasn’t looking for fame. All he wanted to do was push the boundaries.

He had a dream of speed that he pursued throughout his whole, regrettably short, life.

I wanted to write about Harry Hawker firstly because of the way he insisted on pushing the boundaries in the air, on the racetrack and on the water. But I’m also fascinated by what made him ‘a great and restless spirit’.

And how did his wife Muriel cope with that insistent restlessness, especially when it became life-threatening?

You can register for the in-store and online book launch at Avid Reader Bookshop, West End, Brisbane, at 6.30pm AEST Friday 25 March here

YOUTUBE VIDEO: You can see a sneak preview of what’s in the book in the YouTube video by clicking here

I hope to meet up with you if you’re in the Brisbane area. Perhaps sign a book 🙂 Otherwise I’d love to hear from you whether you’re elsewhere in Australia or in another country.

Until next time

D R (Darryl) Dymock

D R Dymock: A Great and Restless Spirit: The incredible true story of Harry Hawker Publication date: March 2022

ISBN: 978-1-925380-415

Order through all good bookshops, including Avid Reader, Brisbane: avidreader.com.au

Book launch 25 March: A Great and Restless Spirit


Harry Hawker MBE AFC (1889-1921) Image: George Grantham Bain Collection., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Dear friends and colleagues near and far

If you’re free and in the vicinity, I’d love to see you at the Brisbane launch of my new book on Friday evening, 25 March, 2022. (Covid permitting!).

The book is called A Great and Restless Spirit: The incredible true story of Australian Harry Hawker – test pilot, aircraft designer, racing car driver, speedboat racer, world-beater.

It will be published by an independent Brisbane publisher, Armour Books.

If Victorian-born Harry Hawker MBE AFC (1889-1921) was alive today, he’d be churning desert dust in the Dakar rally, strapped in a rocket on a SpaceX flight, or taking pole position on the Formula 1 start line.


Harry Hawker helped design and test numerous successful wartime aircraft in Britain in WWI. He was also a a master of looping the loop.
  • Hawker moved to England at age 22, and in his day flew faster, higher and for longer than anyone else in Britain. His one need was speed. And if he couldn’t find it in the air, he was a fierce competitor in racing cars and international speedboat races.
  • When he wasn’t racing, Hawker was designing and testing WWI planes. His boss, aviation guru Tommy Sopwith, was convinced the Australian was a genius.
  • In the book you’ll also meet Harry’s remarkable wife, Muriel, who mostly kept his feet on the ground. But even she worried about his need to go where no man had ever gone before.
  • And in the background there bubbled away an underlying weakness that would eventually contribute to Harry Hawker’s death in a flaming solo plane crash. He was just 32 years of age.

When he wasn’t in the air, Harry took to car and speedboat racing. Image: Copyright Brooklands Museum.

I hope you might be able to join me for the launch of A Great and Restless Spirit at Avid Reader Bookshop, West End, Brisbane at 6.30pm on 25 March. It should be a good occasion, and there’s no obligation to buy😊.

Please put the date in your diary. You’ll be able to register nearer the time on the Avid Reader website: avidreader.com.au

And if you’re not from Brisbane, please keep watch for the book’s publication. I hope it will be available in both print and electronic form.

Please feel free to pass this message on, or to post it on social media. All welcome.

Best regards

Darryl Dymock

Hustling Hinkler book still in print!

I’ve recently discovered that the publisher Hachette Australia still has limited print copies in stock of my book, Hustling Hinkler: The short tumultuous life of a trailblazing Australian aviator. I thought it was out of print. It’s also now available as an e-book.

If you missed it in the initial rush (!), you can find the book in hard copy or as an e-book at https://www.hachette.com.au/d-r-dymock/hustling-hinkler-the-short-tumultuous-life-of-a-trailblazing-aviator

Buying a copy or sending the book as a gift would give support to a local publisher, or you can order through bookshops, also struggling at the moment. It sells at AU$35 post-free from Hachette or just AU$11.99 as an e-book.

Sorry, T-shirts sold out!

And of course I’d be happy as an author that my book is in more hands (or ears!). If any royalties come my way, I’ll donate them to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, which I’ve long supported.

In case you don’t know the book, it tells the story of Bundaberg-born Bert Hinkler, the first person to fly solo from England to Australia. He also made an amazing loop from Canada to New York to Brazil to west Africa and to London. Although his superb flying skills took him across the globe, however, he was a complex man who struggled to make his mark in a fast-changing world.

Bert Hinkler came to a premature and controversial end when his plane crashed in Italy mid-winter 1933 during another record attempt. It’s an amazing story.

The author with Bert Hinkler memorial, Mt Pratomagno, Italy

Well-known Australian aviator and entrepreneur Dick Smith said: ‘Hustling Hinkler is a fantastic book and an absorbing read.’

Good reading

Darryl R Dymock

 

Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.
~ Leonardo da Vinci

 

 

Is this the phrase of the decade?

My last post on this site was 4 March, and what a topsy turvy time we’ve all had in the days since then!

To think that just a couple of months ago most of us had never heard of coronavirus – now tens of thousands have lost their lives to Covid-19, and hundreds of thousands across the world have been stricken with the virus.

Distancing at the take-away coffee shop

Surely ‘social distancing’ will have to be the phrase of the year if not the decade.

In this not so brave new world, individuals, small businesses and corporations have had their lives turned upside down.

For writers, it’s sad to see bookshops struggling to survive as shoppers’ movements become restricted, because we know how much we depend on them to keep the printed word in front of readers.

A couple of independent local bookshops in my hometown of Brisbane have responded in innovative ways. Riverbend Books, where I launched Hustling Hinkler, has closed its physical doors but has introduced free local delivery and a ‘Drive Thru’ service. I can forgive their mangling of ‘through’ when I hear that ‘cars are rolling through the car park all day picking up orders’.

Suzy Wilson, Riverbend Books

Riverbend’s owner, Suzy Wilson, thanked customers for the many kind words that had come their way in the past week. ‘They’ve done much to keep our spirits up,’ she said.

Across town, Avid Reader bookshop, where I launched The Chalkies, has introduced a free local bicycle delivery service for the surrounding area, and promises same day delivery. Apparently it’s keeping Rachel (pictured) fit and happy. Win-win.

Avid Reader’s owner, Fiona Stager, is also encouraging customers to support other small stores in the area. ‘Every purchase at a local small business makes a big difference at the moment,’ she said.

Fiona Stager, Avid Reader

The challenge is of course, to sustain this support. As Ed Nawotka said in the Los Angeles Times on 25 March, the concern is that these responses to local initiatives are just a temporary show of collective goodwill. Let’s hope they’re not.

As I was writing this, on my playlist Ben Lee was singing, very appropriately, ‘We’re all in this together’.

Let’s continue to support each other each other in this weird and uncertain time, and believe that our bookshops will still be going when we come out at the other end.

I certainly hope so, because I’ve no doubt that writers across the world are taking advantage of their enforced isolation to churn out hundreds of thousands of words, and many of them will be looking for a publishing outlet. Let’s hope the publishers survive too.

Until next time

Darryl Dymock

 

What writers say:

To survive, you must tell stories. ~ Umberto Eco

Talkback: What I learned in author radio interviews

I can’t claim to have had the sort of media exposure that major authors and literary prize-winners receive, but as an author I’ve done quite a few radio interviews across Australia and even one from New Zealand, so thought I’d pass on what I’ve learnt, in case it’s helpful to other ‘small-time’ authors.

ABC ‘Tardis’ studio Brisbane

Prepare

Most radio interviews are set up in advance, so make sure you spend time preparing for the sorts of questions you might be asked. Once when I was interviewed about Hustling Hinkler, my biography of trailblazing Australian pilot Bert Hinkler, who died in 1933, the theme was ‘Do we still have heroes today?’ Other times regional radio stations were particularly interested in the times Hinkler visited their towns, and on other occasions the questions were broader, such as ‘Why was Bert Hinkler so famous in his day?’

Radio interviews are mostly leisurely and the interviewers tend to be supportive, keen to make their program interesting to their listeners, so you need to be interesting too.

Morning TV interview

Television is more demanding because unless you’re on a literary program you’ll probably get a few minutes to answer questions, and you might not get a lot of notice. In one TV interview I did, remotely for a morning show, I knew I would have about three minutes, and I took the advice of an experienced PR person to use the politicians’ strategy: Have a key point to make whatever they ask you!

Be succinct

When we’re nervous, which we usually are at the beginning of an interview, we tend to ramble on a bit. So it’s good if you have the main points in front of you (one of the advantages of radio is that the audience doesn’t know what prompts you have, even if the presenter does!), but don’t read from a pre-prepared script – it will sound unnatural and likely be boring to listeners.

Respond to the interviewer

Try to respond directly to the questions the interviewer asks, but be prepared for the fact that they probably haven’t had time to read the book, but may have grasped a few key points from the back cover or the introduction. Sometimes the program’s producer will have done some groundwork and prepared a few questions for the interviewer.

If your book is on a controversial theme or topic, the interviewer may ask probing questions, which you need to be prepared for and answer as calmly and firmly as you can – if you antagonise the interviewer, you may also antagonise your audience.

With my book, Extending your use-by date, I found that interviewers generally themselves connected positively with the theme. On one occasion, when a presenter on a major radio station in a large city gently queried my suggestion that people really wanted to stay working, they received calls from all over assuring them that some people did, including a truckie on a highway somewhere. This radio person was an experienced presenter, and not at all combative, and said on air that they were surprised by the responses from listeners.

Speak to your audience

In general, the audience will probably also not have read the book, so this is your chance to connect with them so that they understand the theme and plot and purpose – whatever is likely to be important to the sorts of readers your book is aimed at. This means using language that’s appropriate for that audience. And make sure you mention the name of the book a few times, without overdoing it.

Be patient

I’ve done radio interviews by phone, face-to-face in a studio, and remotely in a studio, where the interviewer is in another city. One thing I learnt quite early is just because the producer who contacted you in advance says you’ll be on the air at a particular time doesn’t mean you will be.

When you do an interview by phone or remotely, usually the producer makes contact just beforehand and puts you on hold, so that you can hear the program live before the presenter gets to you. I quickly discovered that previous segments often over-ran their allotted time, or occasionally there’d be a significant news story that took over that day and it had to be covered before they got to me. No one apologises – it’s just part of the ebb and flow of live radio, which to me adds an exciting edge to the medium.

On the hop

I did a radio interview late last year where I didn’t have time to prepare. I was at an event at an Army Museum in central New South Wales where they were launching a special exhibition dedicated to the 300 conscripted teachers the Army had sent to Papua New Guinea from the mid-1960s to the early 70s. I’ve written a book about the experiences of those who went, The Chalkies, and after the opening ceremony I was introduced to Ian McNamara, the presenter of a well-known national Sunday radio show, Australia All Over, who asked if he could interview me. Right then and there. We went around the corner to a place that was slightly quieter, and the man who’s commonly known as Macca pulled a recorder from his pocket and off we went.

Macca interview for Australia All Over

The first two questions were excellent: What’s the name of the book, and what’s the subtitle? I didn’t have the book with me at the time, but I got the first question right; the second one escaped me for the moment but I made up something that was pretty close to it. After that it was a case of listening carefully to his questions and responding to them. Macca’s been doing this show since 1985, so he knows his audience and what he’s after. Five minutes later it was all done! And his last question was one that any author would appreciate: ‘What’s the name of the book again?’

Until next time

Darryl Dymock

 

What writers say

[As a writer] ‘Janet Frame once likened herself to a “princess, shepherdess, waitress, putter-on of raincoat buttons in a factory … who chose rags from an old bundle, stitched them together, waved a wand and found herself with a completely new dress … I do collect bundles of rags and I like to sew them together: I suppose I must accept the fact that I have no wand”.’ ~ Margaret Drabble

 

Bert Hinkler & the Italian connection – continued

I’ve recently been fortunate enough to make a second visit to Pratomagno, Tuscany, Italy.

That’s the mountain where pioneer Australian aviator, Bert Hinkler, lost his life when his tiny monoplane crashed in January 1933 while he was making another attempt on theBrochure cover Ital England-Australia record.

Regular readers will recall that I wrote a biography of the famous flier, Hustling Hinkler (Hachette Australia, 2013). It was a spin-off from that story which took me back to the crash site in 2018.

When I first went to the mountain two years ago, Cesare Ciabatti, the owner of an excellent restaurant, da Giocondo, which now sits close to the top of the peak, told me that he would love to be able to give visitors a booklet about Hinkler’s long connection with the area.

That connection has been fostered through an impressive display Cesare maintains on his bar wall, and also through Hinkler memorials nearby that are linked by a walking track, the Hinkler Ring, initiated by Carlo Palazzini and friends in the Club Alpino Italiano (Arezzo).

After I returned to Australia, I decided late last year that I would put together a small publication that could be translated into Italian, which Cesare might be able to provide for visitors.

After much liaison with him and with Carlo (who kindly finalised the translation) and with a Brisbane contact, Kevin Lindeberg (who has a much longer attachment to the Hinkler story and to Pratomagno that I do), we produced a foldable double-sided A3 brochure, with text, photos and maps (above).

I arranged for the typesetting and artwork to be done in Australia, and Cesare generously sponsored the printing of the brochure in Italy, in both Italian and English.

P1100424

Cesare Ciabatti and Carlo Palazzini with the new Bert Hinkler brochure September 2018

I had hoped we might have been able to organise some sort of ‘launch’ of the brochure on Pratomagno, but unfortunately my visit was planned for September, towards the end of the main tourist season, and Cesare needed the brochures several months earlier for his guests.

So I contented myself with a visit to da Giocondo to see the finished product, and a trek around most of the 8 km Hinkler Ring with family in the genial company of Carlo, where once again I was moved by seeing the Hinkler crash-site and memorial.

 

P1100439

Carlo Palazzini at 2015 Bert Hinkler Memorial, Pratomagno

 

P1100445

This tree on the slopes of Pratomagno may have been the last resting place of Australian pilot Bert Hinkler.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Afterwards I trekked to the top of the peak, which is topped by the giant Croce di Pratomagno (Cross of Pratomagno) and gives 360 degree views, which were spectacular on a warm sunny September day.

P1100466

The author on his way to the Croce di Pratomagno

We ended a memorable visit appropriately with an excellent meal at da Giocondo, and a local beer. (Yes, I know Chianti is the specialty of Tuscany, but I wanted to try the local brew – it’s called Pratomagno!) Our transport for the day was expertly provided by Andrea from Very Tuscany Tours, and we were glad to see him again after our previous visit to the region.P1100470

But wait – there’s more! There’s an intriguing aside to this story that began some months before. When we visited Pratomagno the previous time, good friends from Armidale, New South Wales, Geoff and Judy Hinch, were with us. Sometime after we had returned to Australia, to her surprise and my delight, Judy found three poems about Bert Hinkler in a collection of poems penned on the family farm by her late paternal grandmother, Marion Parsons.

One was written in 1928, when Hinkler made his record-breaking flight from England to Australia; the second was from early 1933, when he had disappeared and was still missing.

Puss Moth

The third poem was a tribute to the ‘Women of Strada’, an Italian town not far from Pratomagno. Soon after Hinkler’s body had been found, the women of the town sewed together panels of cloth, cut from whatever material they could find, to create a Union Jack (Hinkler lived in England) that could be draped over his coffin.

The poem concludes:

“Oh splendid Women of Strada

Did you feel when you made that pall

The kinships of wills and mothers

That maketh us sisters all.

And to us the greatest honour

Done for our hero’s sake

Is the flag that the Women of Strada

Tore up their sheets to make.”

Hinkler 25 July 035

Australian newspaper article in 1936, three years after Hinkler’s burial outside Florence

It seemed fitting that I should read that poem in the presence of Cesare and Carlo on the slopes of Pratomagno at the time of my second visit. The poem and its discovery seem to emphasise the significant historical and perhaps emotional connection the two countries have to Bert Hinkler, and why it continues.

Until next time

Darryl Dymock

 

What writers say:

We occasionally felt that inside the book we read there was a better one – sometimes a thinner one- straining to get out.

~ Kwame Anthony Appiah, Chairperson, Man Booker Prize judging panel, 2018