A Long Way From Misery

Jacqui Halpin, Jack Turner, A Long Way from Misery, Book   Launch-1

Jacqui Halpin is an Australian children’s author whose stories have won prizes in writing competitions and been published in anthologies. She attributes her love of storytelling to her father, Jack Turner. ‘Listening to the amazing adventures Dad had growing up stirred my imagination and transported me back to his world,’ Jacqui says. Jacqui has co-written her father’s memoir, A LONG WAY FROM MISERY, which is a rollicking journey through the Australia of yesteryear with a true Aussie larrikin who grew up on a farm called Misery.

 Jacqui is passionate about preserving the social history of Australia for future generations and is currently writing a series of historical junior fiction novels inspired by her father’s adventures growing up.


June: Can you give us a short synopsis of the book?

Jacqui: A Long Way from Misery takes you on a rollicking journey through the Australia of yesteryear with Jack Turner, the larrikin shearer, as he rescues his brother from being drowned by a kangaroo, rides a wild steer through the house, and leaps off a moving train. But these misadventures are nothing compared to his mother wielding a carving knife.

Born in 1926, Jack lived in a different time, but the way he sees it, they were better days. He loved his childhood growing up with his siblings and mates on a farm called Misery, and retells it with delight.


June:  Tell us a bit more about your Dad.

Jacqui: Dad has entertained many friends, family, and acquaintances over his long life with the tales of his younger years. He is a quick-witted larrikin who loves to laugh and make others laugh.

He was born in Rylstone, New South Wales in 1926, and raised on a farm called Misery. He moved to Queensland in 1956 and lives in Brisbane with his wife of 53 years, his three children, five grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

A former shearer with no education and a rough and ready upbringing, Jack’s ‘that’ll do me’ attitude has stayed with him throughout his long life and seen him through many a scrape. Hard-working, and with the ingenuity born from being raised in the bush, Jack has built and fixed everything from houses to toys.

He has had too many jobs to mention, met too many people to remember, and had too many adventures to record. He has lived an ordinary life full of extraordinary stories.

June: How long have you been working on Long Way from Misery?

Jacqui : It’s 12 years this month since my dad first gave me the audio tapes of the stories he could remember from his childhood and youth and I said I’d turn them into a book.

June: What was it like working with your Dad on writing the book?  Highlights? Challenges?  Any funny stories?

Jacqui:I don’t regret one minute that I’ve spent with Dad working on ‘the book’. I do regret that I has taken me this long, and now two of his brothers will never get to read it. If I knew back then what I know now it would have been published in half the time. One of the challenges was to put some sort of order to Dad’s stories.

He had a lot of stories (there wasn’t room for them all in the book) but he didn’t remember them in chronological order, if he had it would have made my job a hell of a lot easier.

We had so many laughs creating this book. I can’t remember what about exactly but just sitting round the kitchen table at Mum and Dad’s place laughing at what Dad was saying. Mum, too, has a great sense of humour. She has made countless cups of tea and lunches for me while we were working, and looked up the spelling of many obscure places that Dad shore at. And not with the aid of google, with a map and a magnifying glass.

One of the highlights while putting this book together was that Dad and I went to Rylstone and he guided me out to Misery Farm. It’s not called that now. Only the real old timers remember it as that. But dad found his way out there and I got to have a look around his old hut and take photos and get a better idea of how they lived. It’s falling down, which is a shame.

It was great to see Rylstone and walk with him on the streets that he walked as a child. And visit the pubs and the dance halls and the shearing sheds he had many an adventure in. I even got to meet some of his old mates too.

 June: What were your emotions on the launch day?  Where did you hold it and why?  What was the program?

Jacqui: Launch Day was a lot of work but well worth it. It was a celebration of all the hard work. A rejoicing for what we had accomplished. I could not have done it without the help of my family who were helping out all day.

My daughter, Emily, even had shirts made for the occasion. There was a great turn out of people. It was so uplifting to see so many friends and family there supporting us. Dad had a smile on his face all day.

It was held in Decker Park at Brighton because that’s where Dad and his family camped when they first moved up to Queensland. We had tea and damper and Hard Timer biscuits just like Dad’s mother made whenever visitors turned up at Misery. They were a hit. So many people asked for the recipe. I’ve now put the recipe on our blog.

Book Signing, Jacqui Halpin

 June: Why was it important for you to publish this book and set up your own press to do so?

Jacqui: I’d tried for several years to get a publisher, and although we had some interest, an agent read the first two chapters in 21/2 hours and asked for more, but no one would commit. Dad will be 90 this year. I couldn’t wait any longer. Besides, as Dad always says, ‘If you want something done, do it yourself.’ So that’s what we did.

 June: What role have writing buddies played in assisting you through the journey of writing, editing, and publication?

Jacqui: I have had a tremendous amount of help from my Write Link friends with this project. Their advice in self-publishing has been invaluable. Seeing the success of self-published authors like Karen Tyrrell, Charmaine Clancy and Nickolas and Alison Lochel, showed me that it was possible to do this self-publishing thing and do it well. I went through Book Cover Café and I could not have done it without them either. Anthony and his team were brilliant. I mean, you just have to look at the cover. I love the cover of our book! Anthony designed that.

A Long Way from Misery is available on Amazon or, for signed copies, through the authors at crownmountainpress@yahoo.com

For more information about Jacqui and her writing please visit her website:

jacquihalpin.com or follow her on Facebook www.facebook.com/jacquihalpinwriter

Jacqui Halpin, Jack Turner, A Long Way from Misery, Book   Signing-1

Congratulations Jacqui, and thanks so much for your visit to the blog!


A Day with a Song Writer – Saturday Writing Sagas

Melinda – By June Perkins

So a break from ebooks for this week, and a break from home on Friday to spend a day listening to some of the original songs of Melinda Irvine and working on the art of portrait photography.

Melinda was doing her best to forget the camera was in my hand as she played sitting at her favourite door/window. The light was amazing, dappling across her face and the guitar. It was like observing someone meditating through their songs and music. At first Melinda was  aware of the camera, but gradually as we spoke between songs she was able to just be natural and just think of her music.

How had this day come about?

I asked if anyone of my friends wanted or knew someone needing portraits of an intuitive kind done who would let me practice on them for my folio work, and also to prepare some entries for competitions. I was keen to give my dear children a break from mum the photographer, and create some new and interesting portraits.

In the Moment – June Perkins

So here I was in Mel’s tranquil creative space.  Filled with birds, her garden and music.  We had a brilliant talk that I will never forget. Mel told me about the many hours she spends practicing, and the time she is devoting to mastering the guitar.

She shared stories about travels, childhood in Nambucca heads, song writing, the creative process.  Hmm perhaps I should have had my video with me to do an interview, maybe next time?

Going through the portraits now I see
a woman at one with her guitar
striving for a song to move the hearts
to understand prejudices in our world

Fingernails painted to match her guitar
appreciating each day at it arrives
seeing the past with fresh insights
painting the world in song . . .

Flowers at Melinda’s – June Perkins

Fishytopia- A Play by Max and Julidali


Scene 1.Tim the turtle: I wish I had a friend.  Hey YOU!  Whale.  Be my friend or else!
Wayne the whale:  I wouldn’t be the friend of someone who talkedto me like that.

Tim the turtle: Well there’s plenty of other fish in the sea you know.  (Swims off)
Wayne the whale: A lot you know I’m not a fish I’m a whale. Hi Sally Seahorse, guess what just happened to me.

Sally the sea horse enters:  Hi Wayne Whale, what happened to you?
Wayne the whale: A little turtle just swam up to me and spoke very rudely to me.

Sally the sea horse:  That’s terrible!  What did he say?

Wayne the whale:  He demanded that I be his friend OR ELSE!

Sally the sea horse:  That’s rude.  I wouldn’t want to be the friend of someone who spoke to me like that. 
Wayne the whale:  Yes that’s what I thought. 



Tim the turtle:  Hey you!  Fish!  Be my friend or else!

Fred the fish:  Please stop speaking rudely to me Tim the turtle:  Fine then don’t be my friend. (swims off)George the fish enters:  Hi Fred water’s lovely this morning isn’t it?

Fred the fish:  Hi George, yes it is, but I am not sure I like some of those swimming in it.

George the fish:  Why what happened?

Sally the seahorse enters

Fred the fish: I just had a turtle speak really rudely to me.

Sally the sea horse:  Really?  What did he say?

Fred the fish:  He said “Hey you fish!  Be my friend OR ELSE!”

Sally the sea horse: 
Wayne the Whale just talked about a turtle who said exactly the same thing.  I wonder if it’s the same turtle.

Fred the fish: Probably.  I wouldn’t be his friend though, he’s too rude.

Wayne the whale enters:  He must be the same turtle;I wouldn’t be his friend either he is far too rude.

George the fish:  But hang on guys, you know that turtles never see their mum and dad after they hatch.  Maybe he’s never had a friend before and he’s never been taught how to make friends.

Others: Yeah, maybe you’re right George. 

Scene 3.

Tim the turtle (To all the others): Hey you guys be my friends or else!

George the fishTo the others:  He IS rude. 

To Tim:  What’s your name turtle?

Tim the turtle:  Tim, I’m a turtle, I‘m Tim the turtle and I’m looking from some friends, I’ve never had any before.
Wayne the whale:  And you’ll never get any with the way you’re acting.

Tim the turtle: Why how should I act? 

Wayne the whale: Well, when you want someone to be your friend, you have to be their friend first.  That means not being rude to them and demanding that they be your friend.

Tim the turtle:  Sorry, I didn’t know.  I thought I could just give some one a choice they could be my friend or else they could not be my friend.

Fred the fish:  Oh!  Is that what you meant by “Or else”.  That’s pretty funny.

Sally the seahorse:  Now that’s all cleared up, I’m Sally the seahorse, He’s Fred the fish, he’s George the fish, and he’s
Wayne the whale.

Tim the turtle: I’m very pleased to meet you all.  Would you like me to teach you how to scratch barnacles off your shell?

Others: Yeah why not?