Alas, I have not met the end of March deadline for finishing the first draft of Tony Abbott and the Times of Revolution. I have, however, made good progress these last two months. I am at 115,000 words, and will probably go to around 140,000. Another 4-6 weeks should see me finish the first draft.
Tony Abbott and the Times of Revolution
When I decided to write a book about the fall of the Abbott Government, I feared I might have bitten off more than I could chew.
My specialty – to the extent I have one – is philosophy, specifically political philosophy. My Master’s thesis was on Edmund Burke. Although I follow politics fairly closely, I am more interested in the ideological motivations and clashes than the day to day political activity. My mind concentrates on the logic and consistency of a politician’s ideas and the implementation of those ideas in the concrete circumstances.
What always appealed to me about Tony Abbott was the philosophical depth and consistency of his thought, qualities few people appreciate. The caricature manufactured by the leftist media has dominated the political discourse. I wanted to show that his demise was due more to the unrelenting attacks by his ideological enemies (including those in his party undermining him) than to his record and the policy program he was pursuing. His program was a solid conservative program, economically and socially. The appalling ideological pig-ignorance of the President of the AMA was just one illustration of what he had to deal with.
The problem I thought might be my lack of knowledge of the detail necessary to my analysis. Nevertheless, I decided to go ahead to see how far I could get.
As I proceeded with my preparation, I saw that I had underestimated the reading necessary for the background I had planned to sketch. The prelude to Abbott’s political career was the 1960s and his time as a student politician in the second half of the 1970s. After much reading and making pages of notes, I sat down to write.
I discovered as I wrote I had to do still more reading if I was to succeed in establishing those critical influences that made Abbott what he is as a political player. I had reached around 25,000 words when it occurred to me that Abbott’s time as a student politician was a story in itself – a fascinating story. I split the project into two books. Back to my reading and research.
Months passed while I amassed more than 300 pages of notes. When I went back to my writing, I made good progress. I have a clear schedule now, the result of a strict ordering of the notes. I hoped I could catch up on the deadline I had set myself which was March this year for the first draft.
I’m happy to say that I am steaming ahead, reaching 95,000 words as of today (3 Feb). I probably won’t achieve the end of March deadline, but it won’t be much beyond that. Stay tuned. I am sure many will find Tony Abbott the student politician as fascinating as I have.
Every year around this time I promise myself I will do more blogging during the coming year. Professionals, I read everywhere, insist that blogging is one of the most effective promotional tools for a writer. Despite the advice, I must have one of the worst records of any writer anywhere. I know how bad I do because of some of the blogs and vlogs I follow. I am amazed at the output of some people. I don’t how they do it. Have I an explanation or excuse for this sorry neglect? I do – perhaps an unconvincing one.
You see, I get so tied up in my writing I barely have time for anything else. And the subjects of my writing demand a lot of research. I am presently writing a book about Tony Abbott’s student time. That required an enormous amount of reading before I could get started. In addition, this year (2017) I completed a thorough revision of the two Winterbine titles for new paperback editions. Both books are long. Then there’s my contribution to the Edmund Burke Society website. I just can’t find the time normally.
I will make the same undertaking at the beginning of 2018. More attention to the promotion of my books. Let’s see how I go.
To usher in the new year, I am posting photos of my ‘operations room’ – where I do my writing – to persuade you I am doing what I say, that is, spend most of my time on my writing. On the monitor is text of my Tony Abbott book. If you look closely I am beyond 72,000 words and pushing ahead strongly.
You’ll notice on the table beside my desk a copy of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, a map of Bath (UK) and a copy of The Bestseller Code. The Bestseller Code was a Christmas present. An utterly fascinating book that attempts to explain what makes a bestseller. The map of Bath and the copy of Persuasion are a demonstration that I have continual difficulty in remaining with the one project.
Around three years ago I suddenly had an idea for a novel. I thought it interesting. So I would not forget it, I began writing. I got to 30,000 words before I shelved it. Since then I’ve been back to it several times when bored with what I was doing. I am now at 42,000 words. This morning was another moment of distraction. The map of Bath, and Jane Austen’s novel have to do with the setting and theme of the novel.
I wish you all a Happy New Year.
PS The photos are sharper on my FB page
The revised 2018 paperback edition of THE CASTLE OF HEAVENLY BLISS, the first book in the Winterbine Trilogy, is now available. Go to here for all the details. The third book in the trilogy is scheduled for late 2018.
Until now I have not felt the need to place my fiction writing into any particular genre, happy to let the novels speak for themselves. I adopted this attitude even though the three novels I have written fit into the genre of the Catholic novel.
I did not want to put any limitation on them. I was convinced that the stories’ framework would not inhibit the interest of the discerning reader. I was right about this. A number of readers said that the Catholic characters and circumstances did not prevent them from liking the novel.
I have changed my mind and think it best that I ‘come out’, so to speak.
First, I don’t see myself writing as anything other than a novel in the genre. I have two novels planned, one already at 45,000 words, and they will be in this market. There is no point in hiding the fact. Indeed, it will link me to that market.
Second, there has been such a polarisation in Australian society that I feel I must make an explicit stand on where we are heading. The issues of ‘same-sex’ marriage, the Safe Schools program, and euthanasia are just a few of the issues that have, and will continue to polarise Australian society.
Third, in coming out, I would like to promote the market and encourage readers and writers to have a closer a look at the novels and novelists in the genre of the Catholic novel. To this end, I will make comments and provide links to writers and their works.
What does the genre of the Catholic novel entail? I have devoted a page to explaining what is it and who are its foremost proponents.
I am offering a special promotional price of $0.99 on smashbooks.com. The offer runs until after the Pell trial. For the special price, go to the title page and fill in the code SL98 after you have clicked the ‘buy’ button.
I offering the 2017 ebook edition of The Castle of Heavenly Bliss FREE OF CHARGE to the first 20 people to contact me via the contact page.
I have finished the revision of The Castle of Heavenly and posted it on Smashwords here. I will post it on Amazon shortly.
The intensive style and text revision was for a new paperback edition. Except for a small but important adjustment to the character of Estella in the final chapters and additional material to bring the story more into line with In This Vale of Tears, there has been no change to the story. The minor adjustment to Estella aimed to bring out character traits established in the previous chapters whose consequences did not emerge clearly enough in those final chapters. Because most of the story takes place in 1975, I expanded the background of the vast social and political changes of the 1960s. This background is indispensable for the story. Otherwise, I trimmed the text and corrected faults of style as pointed out by reviewers and readers who were otherwise generous in their praise. I am confident the revisions present a far more polished and consistent story leading into In This Vale of Tears, the second book in what will now be at least a three-part series.
Caroline Chisholm Library’s Catholic Reading Club invited me to attend their March 31 meeting as the author of the month’s featured novel, In This Vale of Tears. I was delighted that my book had been chosen for discussion and equally delighted to attend the meeting. I was a little nervous, though, because I had not experienced this sort of literary ‘examination’ before. It would be embarrassing if nobody much liked my book!
I am aware that the themes of my novel and its Catholic setting are not to everyone’s liking.* But one may think I would be safe with the people in a Catholic Reading Club. Regretfully, it does not work that way. The paradox is that the members of a Catholic Reading Club are likely to be more discerning about a story of women in a female religious order than the general reader. Continue reading In This Vale of Tears featured novel for reading club
Comment: Barry Fitzgerald (Denham Court NSW)
I bought your book because I like the title Prison Hulk to Redemption, but did not read the review in the Annals. It is one of the few history books that I have read and do not recall being taught Australian history at school.
I have written about my ancestors since they arrived in Australia in the early nineteenth century, but in far less detail than in your book.
Before we left Sydney in 1936 to live on a property on the Darling Downs in Queensland, I can recall very few instances instances when fun was made of me because of my Catholic school uniform. However I can recall my aunts and uncles referring to problems they were having because they were Catholics. But after reading your book I am inclined to believe it was more to do with the economy and the belief that the English were a superior class to the Irish.
[The chapter] ‘Bit and Pieces’ is superb and reminded me of my childhood at Jimbour. Our exploits and adventures were not as daring.
Thank you for the opportunity to learn more about early Australia.