What brought me to the crisp, cool climate of the goldfields from steamy Brisbane has probably something to do with moving on to the next professional episode in my life. I had graduated from High School at age 16 and had my Teachers’ Certificate at 18, with a job teaching 38 children in a Primary School. Moving into High School Music teaching, then as a teacher of English, Social Studies and History, I upgraded my qualifications to that of a Bachelor of Education, with an Associate Diploma of Arts majoring in Journalism and Public Relations. In the year 2000 and again in 2002, I was nominated for an Excellence in Teaching award in Queensland. Before this I had had a few years working as a print journalist in Sydney and as the news editor and broadcaster of a country radio station (2BS-MG). More recently I have freelanced as a print and radio journalist in Brisbane, which included presenting a book review program for seven years at 4BC.
This job became available to me as a consequence of winning the Dymocks/4BC Literary prize for my crime novel, The Teddybear Kill In 1995. Subsequently I was a runner-up in the National Book Council HarperCollins Fiction Prize for my second crime novel, Tom Tiddler’s Ground. My third crime novel, A Quality of Light, was published by the Ninderry Press in 2002 and re-published by Blake Publications—a small, independent publishing house I briefly owned—in 2003. In 2004 this novel was the sole runner-up to the Davitt Prize. Also in this year my Young Adult novel, Morag Bane won the Fast books Award administered by the NSW Writers’ Centre in the Children’s and Young Adults’ category.
Approached by a man who had spent part of his youth in Westbrook, a Boys’ Reformatory, to write his story, I wrote and published The ‘brook also in 2004, which sold out its first edition in five months and was subsequently published by New Holland Publishers. Having been accepted into the University of Queensland’s Masters Degree course in Creative Writing, I wrote another nonfiction novel entitled The Taint as my main thesis. Just before beginning this course however, I was asked to take over as the speechwriter for the Queensland Minister for Health, Hon. Stephen Robertson. I explained my commitment to the university course and would have happily continued as a part-time speechwriter, but was not given this option. Therefore after about six months, I resigned as the Minister’s speechwriter and continued my work on my thesis. This was commercially published by the Boolarong Press in 2008. In 2009 I graduated with a Master of Philosophy (Creative Writing) degree.
Over the years I’ve managed to win a few prizes for my short stories and poetry, some of which have been published in various anthologies. Having edited seven books written by other authors, I am pleased to be able to report that five have been published. My book reviews have also appeared in The Courier-Mail, Australian Book Review, the AWBR and literary journals such as Hecate. My book based on the story of inmate Al Fletcher, The ‘brook, has also been made into a film called Westbrook by Fox.
Since teaching has always been a passion, I have also tutored courses at Queensland University of Technology (Politics) and the University of Queensland (Creative Writing).
In 2015 I graduated from Monash University with a Masters degree in Applied Linguistics. It would be nice to do some more research in the field of forensic linguistics because I believe such study has implications for teaching literacy—especially writing—in schools, and could be useful to the National Curriculum.
Having arrived on the goldfields just this year (2016) and busily renovating a lovely old house, I haven’t had the time yet to start a major writing project, but got involved with Colab, a fringe activity of the 2016 Bendigo Writers Festival. This was a particularly fine festival featuring one Mr Julian Assange in a video link-up from the Ecuadorean embassy to the Ulumbarra theatre in Bendigo. The Ulumbarra Theatre is a vast, beautiful space fashioned from the old Bendigo gaol—an irony I’m sure that was not lost on Mr Assange.
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