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Lived and Breathed the Game

Author Interview
Lachlan Waterman Author Interview

The Mosquito Fleet takes readers through the golden years of the Carlton Football Club. Why was this an important book for you to write?

Football in the late seventies and early eighties was incredibly tribal. The game was yet to go national, so there were terrific suburban rivalries. In Melbourne, Victoria people lived and breathed the game, it was a religion. Matches were exclusively played on Saturday afternoons. The players were semi-professional, they all worked a normal 9-5 job and were able to relate and connect with the general public. I wanted to reconstruct those magical times again.

What was one of the fondest memories of that time?

Carlton had a team lacking height, just four players over 190cm. The Mosquito Fleet had the most gifted and talented group of small players in the competition that captured the football publics imagination with their breathtaking play. On Sunday nights the ABC had a weekly show The Winners that was must-see TV around Australia. It had the weekly results of matches; The goal of the day, Mark of the day, and Play of the Day, and Carlton seemed to feature nearly every week.

What were some of the ideas that were important to explore in this book?

Issues such as addiction to painkillers, depression and mental health were all important to uncover and explore. In the early eighties no one had the knowledge of stress and depression and ‘having a jab’ in an ankle or knee was commonplace. Mental health is a much stronger focus with professional sporting bodies today, but back then they just didn’t have the resources.

Concussion is another one. Several sportspeople have suffered post career with the affects of injuries to the brain.

When and where will you book be available?

The Mosquito Fleet is expected to be released in October this year and should be available in most bookstores and through Shawline Publishing. www.shawlinepublishing.com.au.

Author Link: Facebook

The Mosquito Fleet Book Review

Australian War Fiction

Matt Strempel
Matt Strempel Author Interview

War of the Sparrows follows a WWII veteran struggling with PTSD as he sets out on a mission of redemption to stop a killer. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

The story came from an idea I had about a girl who lives in a loveless home and discovers an attic full of her parent’s things from when they were young and happy. I asked myself, why are the parents miserable? My great grandfather was a Rat of Tobruk, a veteran from World War 2, so that seemed a logical place to start. I wanted there to be an additional layer to the story of a war-veteran father struggling with civilian life, and thought his desire and actions to redeem himself could provide that. Hence, the story begins with the historical abduction of a little boy; a crime that haunts the town and provides Frank the opportunity to earn his salvation. If he can find the man responsible, of course.

Frank is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Frank is a fixer who likes things to be orderly and well-maintained. He is meticulous in everything he does, from his house, to his job as a builder, to the injured birds he cares for in his aviary. But his psychological trauma prevents him from mending the relationship with his daughter. We know Frank is an inherently good man who wants to do the right thing but, after his experiences in the war, he believes he has a terrible price to pay to balance his moral ledger. He’s also in a unique position in terms of his military experience to be able to bring that about.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

1930s-1950s Australia is the setting for this book, a period of time that was in a coming-of-age for the nation. We lost our innocence in a way. People didn’t lock their doors, they were bouyant after the end of WW2, there was a sense of relief, and of pride in our valiant contribution to the defeat of Nazi Germany. But I also thought it unrealistic that many of the returned men and women would just be happy to be home and get on with their lives unaffected. There’s plenty of recent work that explores PTSD in more modern conflicts, especially out of the US, but I haven’t come across much in the way of Australian fiction. The other thing I have often felt was that our Australian troops have always been lauded as soldiers beyond reproach but I thought it naive to think that our boys would have all served honourably at all times. While I was typesetting the book, it was announced there was to be an investigation into Australian soldiers and potential war crimes committed against civilias in Afghanistan. That really resonated with me and confirmed what I felt was a story that hadn’t really been explored, as I said, in Australian war fiction. Ultimately, in WOTS, we witness the loss of innocence of our protagonists and how each approaches the aftermath.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

My next novel is another Australian story called Things are Always Blowing Up in Bangle. It’s a lighter-themed novel that I hope could be available in 2021, but with work and family, that will be a miracle. The hero of the tale is Douglas Jones, the town’s station master. A mild-mannered gentleman who loves his trains and his detective novels, Douglas becomes entangled in Australia’s most famous art heist when the getaway driver is revealed to be living nearby. Bangle is a (fictional) remote mining town in country New South Wales that is famous for two things: the red dust that coats everything, and the abandoned artilery range just out of town. Every night at dusk, kangaroos migrate across the range and detonate unexploded ordinace. So, as the old boys at the pub love to tell the visitors, ‘Between the mine and the exploding kangaroos, things are always blowing up in Bangle.’

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

The guns of World War II have been silent for years, but for veteran Frank Miller, there is no peace.

It’s been almost a decade since Frank returned from the horrors of Tobruk a celebrated war hero. But, like so many veterans, he is a broken man. Witness to unspeakable atrocities, he is emotionally paralysed, tortured by guilt, and preparing a final mission to earn his salvation: bringing justice to a killer lurking in the neighbourhood.

Now, on the night of the Rats of Tobruk ten-year reunion, his darkest secrets are going to be uncovered. With a daughter as curious as Francesca, he was never going to keep them concealed forever; it was only a matter of time before she found the key to his hidden attic.

Found Within Ourselves

Wendy Monica Winter Author Interview

Where’s My Joey? is a heartwarming story following a mother Kangaroo searching for her lost joey. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

My inspiration to write this book came while teaching in Perth, Australia in 2007. Photos with the first draft of this story were sent to my young nieces in America a furry kangaroo photo album and they loved it.

The art in this book is beautiful and detailed. What was the art collaboration process like with illustrator Roxana Antochi?

It is wonderful to work with Roxana. She far exceeded my expectations with the detailed research she put into every aspect of her gorgeous illustrations.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

The main theme (spoiler alert) is for me the profound wisdom that what we are truly looking for can only be found within ourselves.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I have written the first draft of my second book. It will be a picture book about the nature of light and dark. Roxana and I are not pursuing it yet because we still have many plans for Where’s My Joey?. The coloring book was recently released. We are currently working on a hardcover version as well publishing the book in other languages.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website | Instagram

Mother Kangaroo cannot find her Joey! Will she find the baby kangaroo before his dinner gets cold?  Who will help her in Australia? Does Koala, Emu or Kookaburra know where Joey is?

Who will help Mother Kangaroo in Canada?  Do Moose or Bear or Beaver have any clues?  Where’s Joey? Read and find out!


Written by a teacher who lived in Australia, this book is entertaining, engaging, and educational on many levels. (It has a secret spiritual message for those who want to discover it.) Filled with beautiful illustrations and a beautiful story, this is a book all ages will enjoy.

This is a book you will treasure for years and enjoy with your children (or grandchildren) again and again.

Where’s My Joey?: A heartwarming bedtime story for children of all ages

Where's My Joey?: A heartwarming bedtime story for children of all ages by [Wendy Monica Winter, Roxana Antochi]

Where’s My Joey? by Wendy Winter is a heartfelt children’s story of a mother kangaroo that’s lost her Joey! She travels all over Australia looking for him. She talks to everyone, Mr. Echidna, the Kookaburra Family, even friends in Canada! As her Joey’s dinner grows cold, she worries that she may not find him.

Author Wendy Winter’s story is filled with adorable characters that were very emotive throughout the story, which is important to help children learn to recognize emotions. Each page is covered top to bottom illustrations that have a soft color pallet that compliments that overall soothing feel of the story. The pictures are beautiful, detailed, and some of them are ready to frame and hang up on the wall as art. I’m thinking of two scenes specifically; the one where the mother and her joey are sitting and reading together, and the map of Australia. These are amazing art pieces all on their own and the map of Australia helps the reader learn where certain animals live, and the geography.

The plot of the story sends the mother kangaroo on a hunt that serves as a great opportunity to introduce children to different types of interesting animals. It reminds me of the P. D. Eastman book ‘Are You My Mother’.

Where’s My Joey? is a cute and entertaining story packed with loveable characters and vibrant scenes. Where’s My Joey? is the most heartwarming and educational picture book I have read all year.

Pages: 31 | ASIN: B08L27P6NZ

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With Curiosity and Wide Eyes

Lesley Mooney Author Interview

Lesley Mooney Author Interview

Cooking in a Teacup recounts your experiences in a kitchen in the Australian outback in 1952. What was the inspiration that made you want to capture this time in a book?

The main reason was to let my family of five girls and their families, understand how my life had been and what it was like then in the outback. They might find much of it monotonous as I tend to talk too much about myself. My coming from a religious boarding college life when aged fourteen which was restricting in certain ways, then going out into the bush for some years afterwards,, presented many profound changes for both me and my brother then.( Only partially going to grade ten was not a hindrance for finding a job later when in Darwin and it did not enter my mind then..)

I am so pleased you liked the story regardless of how it was written. I know I went through that life accepting whatever came along with curiosity and wide eyes, yet I followed orders with the knowledge that those people out there also accepted whatever occurred was part of their normal daily.

I enjoyed the humorous but honest recounts of your past. What is one experience from that time that you remember more clearly than the others?

Well, besides the worst one- that one of almost disappearing into the “big hole in the ground” , and the other one of nearly running a large truck off the road at night when driving home from Julia Creek—The main benefits were the new education I had received much earlier
from the young age of fifteen; and then the blessings of accepting and being able to live through those experiences. Truely, altogether it was the entire new living that life experiences, and having the patience and ability to watch, listen, absorb, and try to relax. Yet take part in the unknown chores of daily life, and admire the workers while learning so much from all those wonderful people I met. Enjoying their conversations and their natures, regardless of them carrying out their working jobs, which I often took part in.

When writing this book did you have to interview anyone or dig up any old photos to spark your memory?

No, all these details were always present in my memory with some never forgotten. I do have photos from most places I lived at.

I found your book to be ultimately inspiring. What do you hope readers take away from your story?

I would like to hope they actually do read some of the narrative without throwing it away in disgust and boredom.

Author Links: Amazon | GoodReads | Shashwords

This story relates to my own individual, genuine experiences which occurred, and I added others including the details of some years before from early 1945 and after, to explain my circumstances as they were then.

Just turning twenty one in 1952, my father wrote and asked me an odd question, which was to take on a job as a cook on a cattle station, up in North Queensland. Though ‘totally inexperienced’, this position sounded interesting and intriguing. New adventures lay ahead for me on that unknown part of the Australian outback. I doubt if my father even considered my lack of capabilities for this position at all. Later on this job also offered another one, with the bush nurse asking for me to come and nurse, care and cook for an elderly man at McKinley Qld, again my being absolutely inexperienced. These parts of my story included meeting new people, and happenings that occurred in my life, then and in the future.

As this is real life over periods of years, it also contains personal details of the author and family’s lives, and that of others.

This is not a cooking book and there are no recipes given, though a sense of humour would be appreciated.

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Cooking In A Teacup Before & After

If you’re picking up this book in the hopes that it provides you with recipes for cooking in a teacup, you’ve picked up the wrong book. However, if you’re looking for a charming, self-reflective exploration of not only a life in food but an era, as well as a commentary on the societal experiences to be had within that era, then Cooking In A Teacup Before and After: An Autobiographical True Tale is here for you.

Nowadays, it seems hard to believe that a 21-year-old with no cooking experience (or even much life experience) would be left to her own devices in a kitchen in the Australian outback. But in 1952, that’s just what happened to Lesley J Mooney. Thankfully (for both Mooney and us, the reader of her autobiographical tale), she accepted the opportunity, acknowledging it, even subconsciously, for what it was: really interesting. So, here we are, in 2020, unpacking a book which lays out the experiences which unfolded before and after.

Mooney is really funny, and writes with a wry tone that makes each phase of her life joyful to hear about. While using the phrase “Ignorance is bliss” isn’t usually employed when it comes to the skill of cooking, and one book entitled “Country Woman’s Cookery Book” isn’t considered the overarching manual when it comes to culinary mastery, they certainly facilitated an hilarious starting point for Mooney’s attitude when taking on the challenge set out by her father to take the cooking job.

The structure of Mooney’s cooking experiences make a strong backbone to what, at the fleshy center, is a heart-warming autobiography of her life and becoming a woman in a conservative time in history. Having this structure in place gives the book good pace, and contextualizes the elements of experience and storytelling well.

Though perhaps a mild spoiler – it all goes well enough that Mooney thinks it appropriate to write about it all these years on. Even at the expense of a few bandaged up thumbs along the way…

Pages: 120 | ISBN: 1925959317

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Given To Me By Spirit

Jon de Graaff Author Interview

Jon de Graaff Author Interview

Friends of the Tsar is inspired by your personal experiences and your family history. Why was this an important book for you to write?

The diversity of my knowledge, which was given to me by spirit, was something too important to have lay dormant. The knowledge I accrued from many camping and four wheel driving trips was gained through life and death situations I encountered. If, by getting this information out to the world could save just one life, then I will have had good reason to write it.

The many miracles that kept my family and I safe on these learning adventures were so profound in that they were logic-defying, and I thought what better way to tell of my miracles than through an Australian character who entertained the Zuckschwerdts, my grandparents, with the narratives while snowed in.

What were some things that you felt had to stay true to real life and what were some things you took liberties with?

I felt that the horrific conditions in which my grandparents were successful in decamping from Russia had to stay true to life, also their personality.

I took liberties with the negative aspects of their plight because it would have been too depressing for a reader to continue reading. Too many family members were murdered by the Bolsheviks.

I also wanted to honour them with an acknowledgement of their plight after which they were positive in the rebuilding of their future together.

I felt like faith and family were important in the book. What were some themes you wanted to capture in this book?

The pivotal themes I wanted to capture were miracles, spiritual awareness, hope, danger awareness in nature, remembering ones heritage, and faith and family.

What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?

My mother, on the other side, wants me to write children’s books. My previous vocation as artist allows me to illustrate the books myself, and my eagerness to encourage young people to speak up when put in danger, especially when dad’s driving is too scary, strengthens my resolve.

It won’t be until this time next year that a book would be ready for publication, should I decide to do so.

Author Links: Facebook | GoodReads | Website

Friends of the Tsar: Miracles from Petrograd to the Outback by [de Graaff, Jon]

1917–The Russian Revolution. Danger and chaos abound, and the aristocratic Zuckschwerdt and Orloff families are desperate to escape to safety. Enter Blue, an Australian cattle-breeder with a big heart. Blessed by a heap of miracles from the Outback and beyond, he shares his gripping adventures with the snowed-in families. Blue has survived everything from bushfires to crocodile attacks.

With wolves and winter nipping at their heels, the Zuckschwerdts prepare to depart for the lucky country. Plunged into hostilities and espionage in Petrograd, they make a break for the high seas, only to find themselves in a deadly game of bluff with a German U-boat skipper.

Blue is in a predicament of his own when three of the Orloff daughters fall for his red earth charms. Will he find true love with one of them? And will his Aussie anecdotes help the family understand that awareness and preparation can spell the difference between life and death? As miracles begin to unfold, the Russian refugees discover the power of faith.

Inspired by Jon de Graaff’s personal experiences and his grandparents’ family history, ‘Friends of the Tsar’ is a thrilling tale. Spiked with humorous twists, tragic turns, perilous encounters, and life-saving lessons of survival. It offers spiritual insights into forgiveness and unconventional love.

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An Approximation of the Objective Truth

John Richard Spencer Author Interview

John Richard Spencer Author Interview

Brownout – 666 follows Rick in the midst of a struggle to find a way to live a normal life in a dark and unforgiving world. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing novel?

My inspiration for the setup behind this novel primarily came from my sojourn in the Philippines spread over several years. I always told people that one day I would write a book about the country, its people and its culture and that I would call it “Brownout.” I added the “666” moniker to the title as any search under “Brownout” brought up thousands of books about electricity. As large portions of my novel were based on real events and people I could have written a nonfiction work instead. However, I didn’t want the potential for libel suits hanging over me so I chose fiction. The American and Australian settings of the novel came about as I wished to explore the socio-political ethos of those nations and their relationships to the bases of world power. I introduced the American setting as a subplot that tied up with the central one at the end.

Rick Daly is an interesting character that faces many challenges in life. What were some driving ideals behind his character development?

Some of the driving ideals behind the central character, Rick Daly, were related to sexuality and its abusive and non-abusive forms. As he matures Rick learns to become less selfish and earns some degree of redemption. Rick has been confused about Right and Wrong and gradually arrives at what he calls “the fair thing principle.” Rick grew up in the seventies and eighties in an Australia with a fairly aggressive sexual culture. An example of looking back at this culture from the standpoint of the present day is the internationally well-known podcast, “The Teacher’s Pet,” by Hedley Thomas of the newspaper, The Australian. Apart from examining a cold case disappearance and probable murder, the podcast looks into alleged teacher/schoolgirl sex rings at several high schools on Sydney’s northern beaches, one of which I taught at (Cromer High School). Rick loathes hypocrisy, the stupidity and gross unfairness of many authorities. Governments and courts often seem overly influenced by cultural and political fashion.

This novel expertly uses history to tell an engrossing story. Was history an important aspect for you in this novel or did this develop organically while writing?

As a former English and History teacher I have always been fascinated by History and its links to the present day. The changing attitudes to sexuality throughout historical and contemporary periods necessarily came to the fore as Rick becomes caught up in them.

I have long been a student of the Holocaust and the Third Reich and, as history is always written by the winners, I appreciate how difficult it is to arrive at even an approximation of the objective truth. While in no way do I condone the many crimes of the Third Reich I find myself bemused at how any attempt to examine this era can so easily be shouted down if it differs ever so little from the official version. The Holocaust was a terrible event but it is no more sacred than are the other mass killings or genocides that occurred before it or since.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

In addition to this novel, I also have a published work of non-fiction about child loss and grief. It is called, “Waiting for a Miracle – Life in the Dead Zone.” As for my next book, I haven’t decided whether to work on another novel or non-fiction piece. In either case it won’t be available until next year at the earliest.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Brownout - 666: Are we Slaves To Our Symbols? by [Spencer, Mr John Richard]

In the land of flaunted sex, money, and flexible rules, an ambitious but lonely Rick Daly faces his demons.

Rick Daly has established a business in the exotic surroundings of the Philippines, while simultaneously discovering Marilyn Delgado, the woman of his dreams.

However, a clash of cultures and his own naiveté lead to disaster. Falsely accused of a sexual crime, Rick loses both his freedom and his business. To add insult to injury, a prison escape merely amounts to switching jails.

In a world where the rich prosper, honest individuals are forced to the wall, and a cynical disregard for all but the dollar is destroying society from within, crime soon follows punishment for Rick. Close to losing his soul, will Rick’s ultimate success in drug and arms dealing finally lead him to face up to reality?

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