How much culture is enough?

I went to GOMA today – the Gallery of Modern Art, in Brisbane. It didn’t have one of its blockbuster displays, but every so often I find I need an input of Culture, perhaps to offset the outputting I do when I’m writing. And for the past few weeks I’ve been trying to finish the first draft of my next narrative non-fiction manuscript. Working title? Still a secret. No, that’s not the working title; what I mean is that I haven’t made up my mind and/or I want the title to be a surprise when (if) it hits the bookshops. Besides the (potential) publisher might want to change it. Watch this space.

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Anyhow, here are a couple of pics of me at GOMA, one with a moover and shaker (sorry, couldn’t resist that), made from empty beef tins, and one in front of a clever bit of work by Robert MacPherson that he dedicates to a group of fisherman known as the ‘Swamp Rats’. Note how some of the words on the signs slide down to the next line, as if he ran out of room.

Earlier in the week I attended the launch of Books From Our Backyard, an initiative of the Queensland Writers Centre, with state government funding, to try to list all the books published the previous year that were written by Queenslanders or by authors resident in  that State. Commercial, self-published, e-books, all get a go. I’m fortunate to have two listings in the glossy catalogue: Hustling Hinkler, and Extending Your Use-By Date. More movers and shakers there, including author Nick Earls, but no cows.

I was pleased to see that my Perth-based friend Dawn Barker’s book, Let Her Go, has hit the bookshops, and no doubt will sell as well as her debut book last year, Fractured.  I picked up my copy of Let Her Go at Dymocks Bookshop Indooroopilly, a couple of suburbs away. Another writer friend, Charlotte Nash, will be at the Indooroopilly Library on 15 July to talk about her recently released book, Iron Junction.

My next piece of non-fiction (apart from my academic publications, which are constantly on the agenda) is an essay in the forthcoming issue of the literary magazine,Griffith Review, whose theme is ‘The way we work’. My article is called, ‘Working Late: creating encore careers’, which is a bit more laid back than the title of another article in the same issue, by Elizabeth Woods, ‘Fit in or f**k off’. Needless to say, there’s a range of fascinating and sometimes provocative articles. In my paper, I argue that as so-called Baby Boomers come to recognise their increasing longevity, and that that cognitive and physical decline for many is generally not as rapid as they feared, this large cohort of older people are increasingly looking for meaningful activities in the third age of life that will make use of their years of life and work experience. Which includes me.

That’s probably enough culture for now. Back to the manuscript.

Darryl Dymock

Hustling Hinkler (Hachette Australia) is available at or through good bookshops and online; Extending Your Use-by Date is available as an e-book or in a print edition from Xoum Publishing, Sydney.

 

 

 

Why are you writing?

I recently ran a workshop, ‘Harnessing your research for writing’, for the Queensland Writers Centre, and one of the most valuable sessions was when the 12 participants were asked to write a synopsis of the non-fiction book they were writing or planning to write. In 100-200 words, they tried to put down what the book is about, in words that would make a reader want to rush to open it, or a publisher offer a contract.

This turned out to be a challenging session for all of them. I watched them sweating over their keyboards and notebooks, grimacing, sitting back, crossing out, plunging on. At the end of the allotted time, I asked each of them to read out the first few sentences, and for the other to give feedback. It was a very constructive session, I thought, and its major value was in forcing all of them to consider what the purpose of the book was, what their intention was in writing it. Some of them were quite clear about where the book was heading, others were not so sure, and one or two decided they needed a major rethink.

It was a very interesting range of themes too, from memoir to self-help, and we plan to get together again in a couple of months to see how we’re all going.

If you’re writing a book, or planning to, you might consider the same exercise, writing a synopsis, as a way of focussing on its purpose, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction. It could be a helpful way of keeping your writing on track.

One person who’s been on track with her writing is Charlotte Nash. I recently went to the launch of Charlotte’s second rural romance novel, Iron Junction. Set in Western Australia’s Pilbara region, the book tells the story of Dr Beth Harding, who leaves Sydney to take a locum job in the mining town of Iron Junction, and Will Walker, who’s foregone following his father into the cattle business to work in the mines.

Hi-vis vests & hardhats at the Iron Junction launch

Hi-vis vests & hardhats at the Iron Junction launch

Once again the book draws on Charlotte’s experience in the bush as a medical trainee and engineer. At the launch, a bunch of creative friends came in high-vis vests and hard hats, complete with Iron Junction logo. Charlotte added to the creativity by giving away chocolate bars and bottles of waterWith Charlotte Nash Iron Junction launch adorned with a label from the book’s cover. Sustenance for the mind and body. Water and reading are non-fattening, but I have my doubts about the chocolate …

Writing with passion and purpose

When people learn that I’m a (mainly) non-fiction writer, they sometimes say, ‘I don’t know how you write a book. I wouldn’t know where to start.’

When it comes to non-fiction, you should start with the primary purpose of the book. Why are you writing it?

If it’s a memoir, are you writing it for yourself or for others to read? If it’s a history, what are the main themes you want to stress, i.e. what are the points you want to get across through the story you are telling? If it’s a self-help book, what messages do you want the reader to go away with, or what actions do you want them to take? And so on.

In the introduction to Speechless (Melbourne University Press, 2012) James Button writes:

I wrote this book because I feel an important issue is at stake. Our politics seem thin and barren. Ordinary people are increasingly uncomprehending and disengaged. … But this view, however understandable and widely felt, does not do justice to the many people I met in Canberra who are trying to do good things … On the inside, the stories of politics and government are as fascinating and vital as ever.

Whether or not you agree with his viewpoint, Button’s words go to the heart of any writing: the author’s passion for the subject, passion for the story, passion for the message. What is it that you are passionate about that you want to convey in your book?

Once you have decided on the main purpose of your writing, you need to deal with how best to sequence the material you want to present. If you’re writing a history or biography, it might seem a no-brainer that the events will be in chronological order, but that isn’t always so. You still need to engage the reader, and some information may better serve as background to the main events.

For example, in Jon Krakauer’s book about a disastrous series of accidents and misjudgements on Mount Everest in 1996, Into thin air (Pan Books, 2011), he lets us know in the Preface that twelve people died – we don’t need to wait for the final chapter for that piece of tragic news. He is counting on the reader wanting to know how such appalling loss of life came about. In addition, the first three chapters leap back and forth in time: May 10, 1996; 1852; and March 29, 1996, respectively. In Chapters 2 and 3, Krakauer explains how past events had an impact on the happenings he describes in Chapter 1.

You will also need to decide how to structure your information, e.g. in chapters around key events, by theme, or by topic. If you compare cook books, you will see that culinary authors use a variety of criteria to decide what they will include and how they will group and sequence it. Stephanie Alexander’s classic, The cook’s companion (Penguin, 1997), features recipes based around foods in alphabetical order, beginning with ‘Anchovies’, and ending with ‘Zucchini and squash’, but the opening sections are about ‘Equipment’ and ‘Basics’. The sections in Annabel Langbein’s The free range cook (ABC Books, 2012) on the other hand, start with ‘From the oven’ and conclude with ‘From the orchard’. The authors and publishers not only have a particular purpose in mind for each of those books, but also a particular audience, which is the third issue you need to consider: for whom are you writing?

The answer to that question will help you decide on both the content and sequence for your book.

If you’re writing a self-help book about computers, for instance, what level of expertise do you expect the readers to have to be able to make use of what you tell them? In the early days of home computers, an American professor of adult education, Malcolm Knowles, complained that manufacturers’ manuals were geared towards teaching buyers how a computer works rather than about using it to perform the real-life tasks people bought them for. The point he made is still an important one for non-fiction authors: consider what the end-user is likely to want the information for.

Even in memoir writing, you need to consider what your intended readers might be most interested in. Putting in everything you consider important may be boring to those not so intimately connected with your life events and activities.

Nevertheless, as Simon Nasht says in The last explorer, a biography of Hubert Wilkins, the sum of a person’s life is not measured just by its accomplishments, but by how it is spent. The challenge for an author is to present that life, whether it is their own or someone else’s, with a sense of purpose in the writing, and with the information ordered in a way that makes sense to the reader, while at the same time not overburdening the book with trivia.

Finally, you may want to supplement your text with images, and once again you need to consider what will be helpful to the reader. Can you imagine a cookbook without photographs to help you see what you are aiming for? A map will make clear an explorer’s path, drawings can transform a how-to book, a graph can provide an instant comparison of a bunch of statistics, and carefully selected images can illuminate a biography or memoir.

I’ll be leading a one-day workshop at the Queensland Writers Centre in Brisbane on Saturday May 3 on the topic of ‘Harnessing your research for writing’, and we’ll be working our way through all those elements of a non-fiction book.

It doesn’t matter where the participants are up to in the writing process – whether it’s still an idea in their heads, or whether they’ve assembled some research and have begun writing. At the end of the day, they should go away with a plan of how to put it all together in a way that will be attractive to readers.

This should be the perfect opportunity to kick off the project they’ve always been intending to do. 

If you can’t make it to the workshop, I hope the ideas above might stimulate you to begin or continue your own non-fiction writing journey.

What’s your passion and how do you or will you write about it? Whatever sort of writer you are, I’d love to hear from you via the Comments button on this page.

PS My ‘self help’ book, Extending your use-by date, is now also available in print format, from the publisher: Xoum Publications.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s raining books!

In my previous blog, I mentioned that I’d strategically placed books by three fellow authors when Channel 7 News was filming an interview in my home office. Within a couple of weeks of publishing that blog, I discovered the exciting news that all three of them have new books in the pipeline. I also have a small item to add about one of my books.

Charlotte Nash

First cab off the rank is Charlotte Nash, with Iron Junction, her rural romance follow-up to the best-selling Ryders Ridge.

This time the setting is on the other side of the continent, in isolated mining country in Western Australia. According to the Hachette website: ‘Overwhelmed by her family’s expectations, Dr Beth Harding leaves Sydney behind and takes a locum job in the mining town of Iron Junction. With tensions in the mine running high, and feeling like an outsider, Beth is soon convinced the move was a huge mistake. That is, until she meets Will, who could make the difference between her leaving or staying.’ You’ll have to buy the book to find out if she stays or goes…

Ryders Ridge will be launched in Brisbane on 11th April, and I plan to be there.

Dawn Barker

Just two months later, Dawn Barker’s new book, Let Her Go, will be released. This is also a second book, after the very successful Fractured. Dawn has used her experience as a psychiatrist in both these books, and Let Her Go is described as ‘a gripping, emotionally charged story of family, secrets and the complications of love. Part thriller, part mystery, it will stay with you long after you close the pages wondering: What would you have done?’

Watch for Let Her Go in bookshops in June/July.

Poppy Gee

To complete the trio, I bumped into Poppy Gee, author of the popular Bay of Fires, at the Launceston airport, where she was en route as an invited speaker at the inaugural Festival of Golden Words at Beaconsfield in northern Tasmania. Poppy told me that she’s finished her second novel, and that it’s currently with a publisher, so WATCH THIS SPACE.

Extending Your Use-by Date

Finally, my news is not as exciting as another book publication (although I am working on another narrative non-fiction), but I’m pleased that Extending Your Use-by Date, which was published as an e-book in 2013, is now also available in print format. I know some people who will be pleased to have a hard copy in their hands. It’s available through the publisher, Xoum Publications, Sydney.

Keeping up appearances

I have a spate of local author events coming up in the next two months. If you’re in the area, you might like to check these out:

 Monday April 7: The rocky road to publication.

Elanora Library, Gold Coast 10am-11am gold-coast

Robina Library, Gold Coast 2pm-3pm

This is part of the ‘Gold Coast Writes’ program, and  I hope that tips and discussion in these free sessions from my experience in researching, writing and getting publishing contracts will help prospective authors on their own writing journeys. Bookings here.

 Saturday May 3: One-day workshop: Harnessing research for writing

Queensland Writers Centre, Brisbane, 10.30am- 4.30pm.

‘Whether you’re writing biography or historical non-fiction, family history or instructional guides, the most daunting task is how to structure and present your research and resources in a logical way to create a compelling read.’ QWC

This workshop comes from my own experience over many years and from queries from other prospective non-fiction (and fiction) writers about the challenge of shaping the information you’ve collected into a manageable and logical sequence that will make sense to readers. This will be a hands-on workshop where writers can go away at the end of the day with a plan that they can implement immediately, wherever they are up to in the development of their manuscript, from beginner to almost completed.

 22 May: Panel Discussion: Australian Novels as History

Toowong Library, 6pm-7.30pm

This is a free event for Australian Library Week, and I’m delighted to be able to support a local library. My writing is mainly historical non-fiction, but I’m sure there will be opportunity for a few viewpoints.

As you can see from all the above, while the publishing process can often take a long time, sometimes things come together! So when you step outside, you’d better put your umbrella up quickly, but upside down of course, so you won’t miss any of these great books 🙂

Andy Warhol owes me 13 minutes

Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol

You no doubt know of that saying, attributed to the late Andy Warhol, that each of us will be world famous for 15 minutes in our lifetimes. For a moment recently, I thought I had a chance. But it didn’t last 15 minutes. And it wasn’t world-wide. Not even quite national.

It started one weekday morning on the physiotherapist’s couch, where George attached what looked like two chewing gum patches to my knee. The patches were connected to wires running back into a machine that apparently would send electrical impulses to do miraculous things to my patella. As George was telling me about it, I felt my heart flutter, and for a moment I thought he might’ve turned the machine up too high and given me a full charge.

Then I realised it was my mobile phone, vibrating in the pocket of my shirt, with the sound turned off. I didn’t want to interrupt George because he was telling me something important – the overnight test cricket score. As soon as he left me to tend to another patient, I whipped out my phone and found a message to ring the media office at Griffith University, where I work part-time. Channel 7 wanted to do an interview, something to do with my e-book, Extending your use-by date.

A short time later, when I had left the physio’s, Georgia rang from Channel 7, Melbourne. They were doing a story on a 97-year-old Ballarat man who was still working as a mechanic, she said, and wanted to widen it with some comments from me about people working into older age. No problem, I said. That’s what my book is about. Would it be okay if we send a Brisbane-based TV crew to your place around midday? Georgia asked. Sure, I said. Do you have an office where we might film an interview? No worries, I said. Then I rushed home to clean up my office.

The room I use as an office is a small bedroom in our modest house, and fortunately I was able to toss a lot of loose material behind the sliding wardrobe doors. Clearing the desk took a little longer – I’m one of those people whose creativity is fuelled by having stacks of papers and books all around me. (At least, that’s what I tell my wife, who seems to find the explanation highly amusing.) A quick flick with a dusting rag and I was ready for the camera crew. Almost.

The next question was what to wear. I was in my summer at-home working gear of shorts and  T-shirt. Too informal for an interview about my research. I looked through my long-sleeved shirts. Fine stripes and close checks tend to flutter or strobe on camera, and vivid white might send viewers rushing for their sunglasses. Fortunately, I like blue shirts, which TV also likes.

Dressed in what I hoped was a ‘smart casual’ outfit, I waited for the Channel 7 team to arrive. It was hard to settle down to anything in particular, but I took the opportunity to strategically place some books written by fellow authors, in case the camera picked them up: Fractured by Dawn Barker, Ryders Ridge by Charlotte Nash, Bay of Fires by Poppy Gee. My own book, but not the one I was being interviewed about, Hustling Hinkler, was right next to my laptop on the desk.

After a phone call from ‘Daniel’ to tell me they were running late, leaving me to do not very much for a while longer, he and the camera crew turned up. Daniel was the producer/interviewer and he introduced me to the cameraman, the sound guy, and a trainee who had only started that day, and therefore got to carry the camera tripod. With me, that meant five people in my little office. It was lucky I started that diet the week before.

They were all very friendly and professional. The cameraman set up the angles, the sound man held his boom mike overhead, and the trainee held up a soft light to show my best features. I sat on a chair with my back to the desk, and Daniel asked me the questions from another chair parked in the doorway, which is about the only place it would fit.

I felt quite relaxed, Daniel seemed relaxed, the questions were good, and he seemed genuinely interested in the topic of people working into older age.  After the interview, which took about 10 minutes, the cameraman took some additional shots of me typing on my laptop, from different angles. (If he’d asked, I would have told him that the reason I type slowly is that it matches my brain speed.) Then they packed up and left, the trainee again carrying the camera mount.

That evening, towards the end of the one-hour Channel 7 news, there was a nice story about Eric Carthy, the 97-year-old Ballarat man still working as a mechanic at the family garage, with no plans to retire. The story was interspersed with brief clips of Dr Darryl Dymock from Griffith University talking about working into older age, and showing him typing carefully on his laptop. None of the judiciously placed books appeared on screen.

I reckon I was on air for about two minutes, which was good in the circumstances. The show was almost national, I think, although apparently the distant island of Tasmania may have missed out on that segment. I enjoyed the experience, and was very happy to be part of a great story. Eric Carthy is an inspiration.

But I reckon if that’s part of my 15 minutes of fame, I’m still due for 13 more.

2014: Creating the sense of the beautiful

Have you ever read a piece of writing that is so amazing, that so captures the essence of its subject, it takes your breath away? Or heard a piece of music that is so exquisite it seems to resonate inside you? Or perhaps you’ve looked at a work of art that is so breathtaking you want to hold the image in your mind so that the emotion stays with you forever?

The distinguished German author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once said that ‘a person should hear a little music, read a little poetry and see a fine picture every day in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul’.* As a writer, I often find myself inspired by the creativity of other artists.

This week, after several movie-free months, I happened to see two quite different moviesRailway Man I really enjoyed: Philomena, starring Judi Dench and Steve Coogan, and The Railway Man, with Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman. Apart from the great acting performances and the pull of both stories, I also found myself thinking at times, ‘That’s the sort of emotion I want to generate in my writing. How can I do that with words on a page?’ And once again I dips me lid to the screenwriters who can make that happen.

GOMA surrealismLooking at art can do that for me too. In Brisbane, Queensland, where I live, we’re blessed with an excellent Art Gallery as well as the Gallery of Modern Art. Although I haven’t been to either recently, I feel the gap, as if I’ve been deprived, because I know from past visits how wandering through the exhibitions reinvigorates my soul. I don’t like everything I see, but I don’t mind being provoked, either, because I believe that one of the roles of good art, like good writing, is not to be bland.

Early in December I went to two concerts that also took my breath away. One was a Christmas concert by students from the Queensland Conservatorium of Music, held in St John’s Anglican Cathedral, Brisbane, and the other was a performance of The Messiah, by the Queensland Symphony Orchestra and a chamber choir. I’m not a musician and even my singing in the shower frightens the dog next door, but beautiful music can transport me. By the same token, I also enjoyed a retro performance of the musical Hair recently, and a jazz and blues CD I received for Christmas.

And, of course, I constantly read what other people write, fiction and non-fiction, and I’m moved and challenged, and sometimes disappointed, by the ways that authors use words.

These experiences of other people’s creativity invariably stimulate me to want to write better, both fiction and non-fiction, and in my academic work, too. Occasionally I have a go at writing poetry, but so far nothing I want to expose to public gaze.

So I agree entirely with Goethe about the need to feed our souls with art, poetry and music, and if I have a New Year’s resolution at all, perhaps it is that I must remember to have a good helping of other people’s creativity this year, and continue to strive to put my own words together in ways that will make readers respond in their hearts, minds and souls. I hope I can create ‘the sense of the beautiful’.

Perhaps, in our daily lives, we can all aim to create more of ‘the sense of the beautiful’ in 2014, whatever we do in life. How might you create more of the sense of the beautiful this coming year?

cheers

Darryl Dymock

*From Soul Happy, a book of sayings compiled by Kobi Yamada, and one of my welcome Christmas presents in December.

A Runaway success, another trail-blazer, & Whispers

Runaway Bay

If you’re unemployed, what do you do if you keep sending your resumé in response to job advertisements and not only don’t get an interview, but not even the courtesy of a reply?

That was a question one of the participants asked at a recent author

Runaway Bay Gold Coast Queensland

Runaway Bay Gold Coast Queensland

event I was invited to present at the library at the intriguingly named Runaway Bay on Queensland’s Gold Coast as part of the city’s impressive program for over 50s.

Another of the large and lively group at the event asked my opinion on how one registered training organisation could be offering an accredited training course for A$45, when others were asking A$2000 for the same course.

As you can appreciate from those two questions, it was an interesting and interested group, and I thoroughly enjoyed the interaction with them as I talked about my e-book, Extending your use-by date. And I tried my best to respond individually and personally to those questions from my own knowledge and experience.

My main message in that book is that we need to accentuate the positive as we grow older, because older people are capable of much more than many people think they are, including older people themselves. Older people need to fight age stereotypes and discrimination, and they need to back themselves, while at the same time being realistic about their capabilities and chances of (re-)employment. But we need to keep chipping away at the ageist attitudes that exist so that people can continue working into older age if they want to, and find stimulating and rewarding work, including as volunteers.

The invitation to speak at Runaway Bay Library came from Rochelle Smith, the Program Development Office for the City of Gold Coast Library Service. I was grateful for the support and positive feedback on the day from Chris Taylor, the Senior Librarian at Runaway Bay.

Dick SmithAO  Entrepeneur & Aviator

Dick SmithAO Entrepeneur & Aviator

Dick Smith

One well-known Australian who keeps extending his use-by date is Dick Smith, AO. Born in 1944, Dick is a very successful Australian entrepreneur, businessman, and aviator. I had heard he was going to Italy to check out the crash site of Bert Hinkler, the pioneer aviator who is the subject of my recent book, Hustling Hinkler, so I sent him a copy. It turns out he’d already bought one, and told me it was a ‘fantastic book, totally absorbing’. Coming from someone who himself could be described as a trailblazer, and who followed part of Hinkler’s 1933 record-breaking flight route to Australia in a round-the world-helicopter flight, that’s a very gratifying and generous response.

Whispers

Thanks to the Queensland Writers’ Centre, I had the opportunity one recent Saturday afternoon to do a short reading from Hustling Hinkler, as part of QWC’s monthly Whispers program. My fellow authors were: Edwina Shaw, Nicola Alter, Adair Jones, and Inga Simpson, and all of us are ‘graduates’ of the QWC/ Hachette Manuscript Development Program, an annual event that attracts applicants from across the country.

Whispers takes place at the Library Café, which is a sheltered outdoor venue, open to the public. So we did our readings to a somewhat mobile audience, some of whom are long-time followers of the Whispers program, some of whom turned up just for the day, and some who thought they were just sitting down with a quiet cup of coffee when a book reading broke out. Good fun, and great to hear those talented writers read from their own work.

From left: Nicola Alter, Darryl Dymock, Inga Simpson, Adair Jones, Edwina Shaw

From left: Nicola Alter, Darryl Dymock, Inga Simpson, Adair Jones, Edwina Shaw

If you had a choice, which author from anywhere in the world would you like to hear read an extract, and from which book?

Hustling Hinkler on tour – and another surprise guest

Alice Wood, the marvellous publicist at Hachette Australia, not only arranged for me to recently do a short tour visiting bookshops and giving a talk or two about my biography of aviation pioneer, Bert Hinkler, called Hustling Hinkler, she also managed to find venues in some of the most spectacular country in south-east Queensland. But neither of us anticipated the surprise guest at my last stop.

At Maleny in the mountains

The tour started in the delightful town of Maleny, which sits at around 500 metres in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, and supports a thriving artistic community (and vice versa, no doubt). It also embraces Rosetta Books, run by the effervescent Anne Brown, who has just installed a magnificent

A familiar face in the window of Rosetta Books, Maleny

A familiar face in the window of Rosetta Books, Maleny

cyclindrical brass coffee machine in one corner, to complement the enticing display of books. My evening talk on Hustling Hinkler was well received by a mixed audience that included several pilots, and we had a stimulating question and answer session afterwards.

Noosa sojourn

Next morning my wife Cheryl and I headed along the road that follows the ridge of the Blackall range, which gave us spectacular views across to the coast. We could see the deep blue of the Pacific Ocean as it pounded that part of the eastern edge of Australia, but when we got up close and

Debbie at Mary Ryans, Noosa

Debbie at Mary Ryans, Noosa

personal at the beachside town of Noosa, the sea became translucent green close to shore and the waves that surfers love to ride were almost iridescent blue. Hastings Street is the No. 1 shopping strip in that part of the world, and I was glad to be able to make a pre-arranged visit to Mary Ryans bookshop where Debbie helpfully set up a stack of Hustling Hinkler copies for me to sign.

Then it was off to nearby Noosa Junction, where Rachel Burgoine and Catherine Fisk warmly welcomed me to the Written Dimension bookshop, and they too happily pulled out their stock of Hustling Hinkler for me to sign. Rachel also persuaded me to buy a copy of ‘The last Explorer’, by Simon Nasht, the story of the Australian adventurer Hubert Wilkins, who receives a tiny mention in my book. It’s a great read.

Rachel Burgoine & Catherine Fisk, The Written Dimension, Noosa

Rachel Burgoine & Catherine Fisk, The Written Dimension, Noosa

It’s great to see these independent bookshops still holding their own in the market in these tough times.

Back to Bundaberg

Saturday morning we drove up the Pacific Highway to Bundaberg Library, where it was gratifying to see a full house for my talk, hosted by the Regional Supervisor, David Cornwell. It was great to have the local long-time Bert Hinkler expert, Lex Rowland, introduce me, and to hear his generous words about the book. I’ve been to Bundaberg a number of times while researching for the book, and Lex

with Bert Hinkler's nephew, Ron, at Bundaberg Library

with Bert Hinkler’s nephew, Ron, at Bundaberg Library

reminded me that my first contact with him and the Hinkler House Museum was in 2004/5.What made the occasion even more special this time was the presence at the library of Ron Hinkler, the famous aviator’s nephew, who told me he was enjoying reading the book. Ron was there with other family members and is still very much on the ball.

I was also thrilled to catch up with old friends – local author and writing stalwart, Sandy Curtis, and a former Griffith University student, Helen Dyer, now working at the Bundaberg campus of Central Queensland University. There were interesting questions from the audience, especially about the writing process, part of which I have written about in earlier blogs, including the significant part

with local author Sandy Curtis (r), Helen Dyer CQU & husband Matt at Bundaberg Library

with local author Sandy Curtis (r), Helen Dyer CQU & husband Matt at Bundaberg Library

played by the Bundaberg writers’ festival, Writefest. Dymocks Bundaberg supported the event and I’m pleased to say I signed quite a few copies of Hustling Hinkler purchased that day, as well as the copies the library was about to put on its shelves for loan.

Blue-green at Bargara

Afterwards, we headed a few kilometres out of town to the blue-green waters of Bargara, the waves rippling only gently on to the beach because of a protective off-shore reef. It wasn’t quite as peaceful back in January 2013, when coastal dwellings were menaced by typhoons, and much of the city was flooded, including the Hinkler Hall of Aviation in Bundaberg North. I’ll talk a little about those events and my recent visit to the now re-opened Hall of Aviation in a later blog.

Bargara Beach

Bargara Beach

Today I saw a bumper sticker for a Brisbane private high school, with the slogan ‘Born to fly’. Bert Hinkler would have liked that.

Surprise visitor at Hustling Hinkler library talk

One of the rewarding aspects of talking about and signing my Hustling Hinkler book is meeting lots of fascinating people, all with their own stories to tell. I had a pleasant suprise at Carindale Library on Saturday 17 August, when I discovered mid-way through my talk that in the audience was 92-year-old Eldred (Ed) Cunningham, who told us he had seen Bert Hinkler arrive in Bundaberg at the end of his record-breaking England-Australia flight in 1928!

with Jennie at Carindale Library 17 August 2013

with Jennie at Carindale Library 17 August 2013

Not only did Ed vividly remember that day he went along with his dad to see the famous aviator land, he gave us a brilliant rendition of the 1928 song, ‘Hustling Hinkler’. The 25 or so people assembled at the library for the occasion gave him a well-deserved burst of applause for his contribution to a very enjoyable session. My wife Cheryl has suggested I should take Ed and his Hustling Hinkler song with me whenever I talk about the book.

Carindale Library is a modern progressive facility with great resources and well-equipped meeting

with Craig, co-owner of Dymock Carindale, Brisbane

with Craig, co-owner of Dymocks Carindale, Brisbane

rooms, and I am thankful to Jennie and the other staff there for the invitation to talk about Hustling Hinkler. Olwyn from Dymocks Carindale was also there with a book stand, and kindly invited me to the store, where I found myself face-to-face with a poster of myself. Scary.

Hustling Hinkler and I have been busy the past week. In addition to the Carindale Library talk, I did interviews with Sky Kirkham for the 4ZZZZ bookclub, Sue Gammon and David on ABC Wide Bay (which includes Bert Hinkler’s hometown of Bundaberg), and two with newspapers: Megan from the Sunshine Coast Daily, and Jim Fagon from Noosa Today.

On Friday, I had an interesting and enjoyable chat on ABC local radio with Phil Smith and his mate Ian ‘Watto’ Watson, in the ‘Shed happens’ segment,  on the theme of ‘blokes and the spirit of adventure – are there still “Hinklers” today?’  You can download an mp3 of the show, which is part of ‘Breakfast on Saturday’ program. Watto has written a self-published book, Every bloke’s a champion – even you, which he tells me is available at ABC online. His theme, ‘I’ve never seen a bloke go backwards with encouragement’, has echoes of my e-book, Extending your use-by date: why retirement age is only a number, published earlier this year.

In the coming week, I’m doing an interview on the ABC Sunshine Coast breakfast program on Wednesday, then I’m off on a short tour – firstly to Rosetta Books Maleny (Sunshine Coast hinterland) at 6pm Thursday 22 August, and then the following evening at Written Dimension at nearby Noosa. On Saturday 24 August at 11am I’ll be at the library in Bert Hinkler’s hometown of Bundaberg.

I’m looking forward to returning to that city, which was affected by severe flooding earlier this year,

Hinkler Hall of Aviation Bundaberg

Hinkler Hall of Aviation Bundaberg

and is apparently still recovering. In an earlier blog, I told how that event had an impact on my plans to obtain photos for Hustling Hinkler, because the waters that washed away parts of the city also swept through the records section of the Hinkler Hall of Aviation. Fortunately that marvellous facility has now re-opened.

Book launch for Hustling Hinkler ends with author as window display

Hustling Hinkler launch - Riverbend Books

Hustling Hinkler launch – Riverbend Books

We had a wonderful launch of Hustling Hinkler at Riverbend Books in Brisbane on Friday 9 August, which happened to be the eve of National Bookshop Day in Australia. It was a balmy spring evening in Brisbane, and the outside deck at Riverbend was crowded with people chatting and having a drink before the more formal part of the proceedings got under way.  I was grateful to my brother Ian (who is always quick to point out that he is the younger of the two boys in our family) for emceeing the event and establishing the warm tone that prevailed throughout the evening (until the dressing gown episode – see below).

The CEO of the Queensland Writers Centre, Meg Vann, launched the book with generous words that were clearly appreciated by the 60+ members of the audience. I am particularly pleased that Meg was able to accept the invitation to launch the book, because QWC is a co-sponsor with Hachette of the Manuscript Development Program.

Meg Vann, QWC CEO, launching Hustling Hinkler at Riverbend Books, Brisbane

Meg Vann, QWC CEO, launching Hustling Hinkler at Riverbend Books, Brisbane

As part of the celebration, my work colleague, singer and song-leader, Ray Smith, cajoled the audience into singing a song from 1928. They responded so enthusiastically that the diners at the Mexican restaurant next door must have paused in mid-mouthful as the sound echoed across the ‘lifestyle precinct’ of Oxford Street, Bulimba, on a Friday night.

It was great to see family members, work colleagues and friends from various parts of my life at the launch, as well as fellow writers from the 2010 Development Workshop, Rebekah Turner and Charlotte Nash. I made new friends too – keen readers on Riverbend’s mailing list who responded to the invitation.

Beforehand, I had spent most of Friday with the very professional Adele Fewster, visiting ten bookshops around Brisbane, and signing copies of Hustling Hinkler. It was really good to meet the booksellers, people in the frontline of the publishing industry who, despite sometimes gloomy predictions, in general were very positive about the role of bookshops and optimistic about sales. It’s great that National Bookshop Day recognises their place in the community.

An unexpected element of the launch was when Krysi from Riverbend asked me if I would loll on a chaise lounge in the window of the bookshop to have my photo taken for Riverbend’s Facebook page for National Bookshop Day. If you think you’re up to it, you can see me in a dressing gown (!) reading Hustling Hinkler, on my Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/darryldymockwriter