My dear reader….
I suppose the place to begin this online journal of notes and snippets from a writer’s life is with myself. To my own amazement I’m in my 71st year now, married and living for the past 40 years in Canberra, capital city of Australia, though I was born and raised in Melbourne.
My ‘career path’ more properly looks like a goat track. In my time I’ve been a journalist, an antique dealer, television reporter, speech writer for Governor-Generals (who represent The Queen in our country), and PR man for several national institutions including the museum, the university and the social welfare department.
But what I really am, and have always wanted to be, is an author. Since 1985 I’ve had 17 books published, mostly with Penguin Australia, which you’ll find detailed with notes and links on my website anthonyhillbooks.com. They range from a children’s picture book, to junior fiction, historical novels for the middle years, to literary non-fiction for the adult market, which is where my writing interests now mainly lie.
There’s been an emphasis, entirely unplanned, on Australia’s military history. One story leads to another in the way of these things. It reminds somebody of another tale, which reminds of another, and so on… That’s exactly how I came to write my most recent biographical novel, The Story of Billy Young, a teenager in Changi, Sandakan and Outram Road, which was published last July to considerable success.
I’m working now on a rather long saga about a soldier-settler family: First World War – Between the Wars – Second World War. I keep telling myself it will be my last military book. There’s a convict story I’ve long had in mind and have largely researched here and in England. But then again, ‘One never knows, do one?’ as the late and much-lamented ‘Fats’ Waller remarked, this master of the keyboard and of Harlem ‘stride’ piano.’
With 17 published books and now aged 70-and-a-half, you may well ask why I should launch myself into the largely uncharted oceans of blogging, digital media, twittering, face-booking and the rest of it? Shouldn’t I be retiring?
Well, why not? I’ve long been conscious of the need to increase my online presence. My website gets a lot of visitors from schoolkids studying my books, their teachers and adult readers, and I’d like to broaden the experience for them as well as myself. I now have quite a few publications no longer in print, but I’m aware there are many new readers who might enjoy them in this rapidly expanding age of eBooks.
The digital sea
And then there’s the personally fulfilling pleasure of learning how to swim in the digital currents. I’ve been standing on the littoral for long enough, with my toes barely in the water. It’s time to take the plunge. To sink or to stay afloat as it may be, but at any rate to try. It’s being human, to keep the mind buoyant for as long as we can.
In all of this, I’m aware that many of you will know a lot more about the digital world than I do, and I hope you’ll support me and share your experience as we travel together.
The upside for you, as an interested reader, is that by exchanging these weekly (and sometimes oftener) jottings from my life as a writer (stray thoughts of an author, ideas, readings, events, stories, problems faced and solutions found – with very little, I promise, of my domestic life or current politics and obsessions), you might be able to discover something worthwhile from me.