Originally published by author Kathryn White at Kathryn’s Inbox
Welcome to another brilliant Writers on Wednesday post. This week I’m chatting with Justin Sheedy, a great Australian author whose fourth book Memoirs of a Go-Go Dancer is, well, dancing up a storm both in Australia and abroad…
Justin, tell us about your most recently published book?
My 4th and latest book, “Memoirs of a Go-Go Dancer”, published for Christmas last year. It’s my make-you-laugh-and-cry portrait of being a teenager in 1980s Sydney when, if teenage wasn’t dramatic enough, I was faced with the prospect of nuclear annihilation before I ever kissed a girl. Far from being merely my own ‘memoir’, it’s a portrait of the era featuring the issues and events great and small that made the decade: The hot end of the Cold War, the fall of the Berlin Wall, AIDS, Bob Hawke’s iconic “Americas Cup” moment, the music good & cringe-worthy, the horror of “Perfect Match” and 80s crimes of fashion. A French reader recently called it ‘a timeless book for all ages and all nationalities’.
Tell us about the first time you were published?
For “Goodbye Crackernight” (2009) for which I was this year featured on 7 News Sydney and on Radio 2UE. Think an “Unreliable Memoirs” for Generation X, it’s my portrait of childhood in 1970s Australia when a child’s prized possession was not a smart phone but a second-hand bike. The story is threaded together by recollections of the now long-lost annual Australian festival of ‘Crackernight’ and all the things big and little that shaped the decade such as ‘String Art’, ‘Throw-Downs’, my parents’ keen nudist friends, the dismissal of Gough Whitlam, Australian evolving from a ‘white-bread’ society into a multicultural one, all as seen through the eyes of a child. It was recently pronounced by a reader ‘A book so engaging you forget you are in the modern world’.
As writer, what has been your proudest achievement so far?
When readers vow that they will be reading my books more than once: There are ‘great’ books we find ourselves labouring through, on occasion books that we adore. But rarer are the books that we would consider re-reading. It is this sort of quality writing that I strive with every fibre of my being to achieve.
What books or writing projects are you currently working on, if anything?
I’m currently 60% through writing my 5th book, “No Greater Love”, Part 3 in my Australian historical fiction trilogy which I began in 2012 with “Nor the Years Condemn”, then “Ghosts of the Empire” in 2013. My trilogy brings alive the stunning true (and untold) saga of the shining young Australians who flew as pilots against Nazi tyranny in World War Two. Far from being a ‘boys’ story’, the response from female readers has been heartfelt: The loss of any young person in war is a tragedy but the youth whose story I tell were the ‘shining ones’, rendering their loss doubly heart-rending for the reader. Also, for every 20-year-old who flies a Spitfire, there’s a poor mother cursed to let him go, a secretly dominant war girl, and an amazing girl pilot or two! All based on fact. Book 3, “No Greater Love”, will be out for Christmas 2016, Book 1 recently called by a reader ‘A story and characters that will stay with me for years to come.’
Which do you prefer? eBooks or Paper Books? Why?
Anything that gets my writing read and enjoyed by people. Though I am amazed by a recent ‘back-lash’ against eBooks in favour of ‘books without batteries’.
Indie Publishing, or Traditional Publishing?
I’ve written 4 books now in 2 completely different genres on subjects no other Australian author is writing about, all of my books since 2009 now with the warmest reader response and PROVEN SALES RECORD. (I’ve had 4 sell-out book-signing events just this year so far at Australia’s premier bookstore, Dymocks George Street Sydney, with another planned for the busiest shopping day before Christmas.) All this, however, doesn’t seem to register with traditional publishing companies in Australia. Until it does, I’ll be Indie Publishing. Though perhaps a decent Literary Agent reading this right now knows an Australian publisher who needs to make some money… Last I heard it was all of them…
Aside from your own books, of course, what is one book that you feel everybody should read?
“Going Solo” by Roald Dahl because it’s a thrilling, true adventure full of hilarity, humanity, tragedy and resilience all told as if with the involuntary perfection of a child’s eye. Also because, as an author, I’ve gone solo and am still flapping my wings.
Finally, is there anything you would like to say to your readers in Adelaide, Australia?
Yes. Enough people have enjoyed my books so far for me to be confident that YOU will. Whether it’s my make-you-laugh-and-cry portraits of Australian society in the 70s & 80s, or my more serious Australian war historical fictions, I’m always putting up a mirror to Us, to how we are and how we were. What I’m writing is OUR story.
To read another interview with Justin, click HERE