PRE-ORDERS are now open, with on-sale closing fast; it’s been a long six years, but we’re almost there.
I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on the process and answer some of the questions that I often get asked.
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Without further adieu, I’ve taken the most common questions and broken them into two parts (otherwise, it would be like writing another novel).
This is Part 2.
How would you like your dad to be remembered?
Fundamentally as a decent human being, then beyond that as someone who helped create an aspect of the world we live in today.
He was a good journalist, a loyal servant to his country through National Service, a devoted husband and father, one of the country’s most successful and brilliant sports administrators and a gifted broadcaster.
Yet, there are many others that share those traits and those traits alone don’t draw 3000 people to a memorial service.
There was something else – something special – about dad that made so many people love and respect him in life and so many people mourn for him in death.
As former WA Premier Alan Carpenter said: “You look around now and there’s no-one else like him”.
Did you want to work in media/sport because of your dad?
This is a complex question.
I didn’t want to work in media and sport because of dad, but at the same time, I knew of and was introduced to those worlds because of him.
As the saying goes: you don’t know what you don’t know.
Without dad’s influence, I wouldn’t have known of the possibilities in those professions. However, I’m different to dad in a lot of ways and was never going to follow precisely in his footsteps.
I like writing; he liked broadcasting. I’m an introvert who gets anxious about being in the spotlight; he was someone who never shied away from it and lived his life in it.
Do you think your dad would by pleased with the job you have done with the book?
There’s one part of the project that I can unequivocally say he would be pleased with and that’s the effort and measures that I went to in order to ensure its accuracy.
There are no short-cuts in this book.
I interviewed an enormous amount of people, often deliberately seeking alternative and opposing views, in order to produce the most accurate account of dad’s life that I could.
I think he would be pleased and appreciate that.
Beyond that, in terms of how it’s written, who it’s written to, whether he would like my writing, whether I captured all the moments he would want captured, I guess we’ll never know.
There were tough times during the process where I would be weighing up whether to include something or not and I would have to ask myself: what would dad have done/wanted? And it’s a very difficult question to answer.
I hope he would be pleased.
What was the most difficult part about completing the book?
Trying not to hate it.
Many people often said things like, “It must be so rewarding” and “Wow, what an experience”.
And it has been, don’t get me wrong.
Thanks to this project, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know my dad in ways I probably never would have if he was still alive.
However, it has consumed an immeasurable amount of my – and my family’s – life.
During the writing and interviewing process, there were times when I was working on the book for about 20-30 hours a week. That’s on top of my fulltime job and trying to be a husband and father.
Needless to say, there were times I hated myself for neglecting really important parts of my life and, in-turn, hated the book.
It also had some serious effects on my mental health. Sitting by myself for eight-hours straight, pouring out words and researching an emotional topic had an impact that I’m still trying to iron out.
I’m glad that I entered this project having never written a book before, because if I had of known the quantity of work and physical and emotional investment required, I’m not sure if I ever would have taken it on.
However, the light at the end of the tunnel wasn’t a train and I’m almost there. I have an amazing wife, who did everything possible to support me and the family through this project, despite having never met dad, and without her the book never would have been finished.
I feel now I can look back with a much lighter view on it all, with a sense of pride and accomplishment, but there were times throughout that were very tough.
What was most satisfying about completing the book?
Keeping in mind that I won’t consider the job “complete” in my mind until release date, but it would be that the original goal is now achieved.
Dad used to say “the written word is indelible”.
I set out to preserve his legacy, so that the generations that come – be it new additions to our family, or those simply interested in the areas dad impacted – would have a record to look back on that explained who he was, what he achieved and why he was so important to so many people.
Before this book, there was nothing that achieved that in such a comprehensive way.
I think that is what is most satisfying.
Then, there’s the debt I feel I can partly repay to a couple of people.
Firstly, to dad. He only ever knew me as an unmotivated, misguided teenager and young adult, with no idea what I wanted to achieve in life. He worried about that and me, but loved me, regardless.
Since his passing, I’m more than a decade into a professional career I enjoy, I’m married to an amazing woman and we have two beautiful kids, and I’m about to become a published author.
I’m sorry he never got to see me get my s*** together when he was alive, but if there’s a world beyond this one, I hope he can see it now.
Then, there’s the debt to my family, notably Charlotte. The project was almost finished when Jonathon came along, so while it impacted my presence (mentally and physically) with him, it wasn’t to the same extent as with Charlotte.
Sarah would often come up with something to do in order to take Charlotte out of the house for large blocks of the weekend – about eight hours at a time – to give me a solid block of writing time.
While opportunities like that were enormously appreciated and were the only reason I could finish the book, it also meant Charlotte’s first two years were largely lived as a girl who knew her father as an anti-social hermit.
There’s an enormous irony in that, too, given I’m writing the book to her.
Eminem wrote in his song When I’m Gone, the lyrics to his daughter: “Hayley go play, baby, your daddy’s busy. I’m writing this song, the song ain’t going to write itself. I’ll give you one underdog, then you gotta swing by yourself. Then turn right around in that song and tell her you love her.”
The lyrics speak to the irony of expressing love to someone in a way that, ultimately, hurts them; spending time working on a project for them to show them love, instead of just telling and showing them by spending time with them.
I felt like that often and guilt gripped large parts of me.
However, those times are gone and I’m very much enjoying the new opportunities of spending time with my family and making up for lost time, without worrying about whether I should be working on the book and vice-versa.
In 15 years or so, when Charlotte is old enough to read and understand the story and its impact, I hope she feels the love that was poured into it.