Sunday, January 18, 2009
The Writers: A Collection of Australian Writers' Biographies by Brenton Cullen
The Writers is a lively account of the lives and times of six contemporary Australian writers. The authors covered include Dianne Bates, Duncan Ball, Libby Hathorn, Hazel Edwards, Jackie French and Bill Condon. Rounding up such a selection of august names would be a feather in any biographer's cap, but author Brenton Cullen seems to have a knack for inspiring confidence in those he approached.
Dianne Bates' biography begins with her rollicking childhood, showcasing some of the hair-raising escapades that suggest she had a vivid imagination even in primary school. The story continues through her teenaged years and her long and successful writing career, right up to 2007. The next subject, Jackie French, is followed in similar fashion. It is again clear that writing talent and potential career must have been inborn. After Jackie's biographical notes comes an interview. Libby Hathorn's biography follows, and then comes an interview with Dianne Bates. The other biographies continue in similar patterns, intercut with interviews, "how authors write" details, and pointers for further reading.
At the end of the book, author Brenton Cullen steps to the fore to thank and acknowledge the writers and other people who have helped with the production. The specific way in which he names and thanks each one lends another personal touch to an enjoyable and entertaining collection.
Writers (and especially well known ones) often find themselves answering the same questions repeatedly, but being invited to revisit key parts of their lives, to go back in time to when and how it began, and to examine
why it began, must be more of a treat than a retread. Better yet, the questions came from a young writer whose own tastes and talents may have been partly shaped by the very people showcased in his book.
I can recommend "The Writers" to anyone interested in children's literature, in the making of a writer, and in youthful enterprise. "The Writers" is available in several formats from www.lulu.com . The accompanying photograph comes from Brenton Cullen's own blog.