Submission re Justin Sheedy’s Next Book requested by Major Publisher
Ghosts of the Empire
An Historical Fiction by Justin Sheedy – 106 000 Words
(Justin Sheedy is the author of Goodbye Crackernight as featured recently at the Byron Bay Writers Festival 2010)
Ghosts of the Empire is based on the true story of the 37 000 young Australian airmen of the Empire Air Training Scheme, World War Two, who trained to fly in Australia then crossed the oceans, along with young men from all corners of the Commonwealth, to fight a war in the air – the majority headed for what they viewed at the time as ‘The Mother Country’, England. Ghosts of the Empire is the story of one of these young men.
Daniel Quinn is typical of the elite breed of young Australians of the Empire Air Training Scheme: To be picked for training as aircrew, let alone as pilots, they had to be nothing less than the best and brightest of their generation, physically and mentally. (Ironically, as Ghosts of the Empire reveals, this ‘best and brightest’ turned out to have picked the fastest way to die of World War Two – if they survived Training.) As was common for his ilk, at the outbreak of war in 1939 Quinn is a 20-year-old Law student and star rugby union player. Hard-working, thoughtful and justice-driven, he is popular, respected by his peers though still humble. The young men (and women) he encounters on his path to and through the war are exceptional characters each in their own way – some quite delightful: their high personal calibre / talent level being the very reason they have ‘made the grade’ of their elite. No matter their disparate backgrounds they are bound together by their uncommon intelligence and unity of purpose, in modern hindsight a bunch of first-time Aussie backpackers except with a unique responsibility: no less than that of slamming the door on the evil empire of Nazism.
On Quinn’s wartime journey, his personality is transformed by his experiences from his peaceful pre-war self into an efficient and professional killer, leader of a squadron of fighter bombers specialising in ultra-low-level rocket attack. Along the way he sees almost all his friends die, the demise of the greatest of them all inducing Quinn’s personality to come full circle. As a result he survives the war, ending up an old man surrounded by ghosts of the forever young.
Though the skill, bravery and self-sacrifice of these young men is richly explored, a sub-plot to the main narrative (concerning the activities of its main female character) reveals the story’s male characters as unwitting pawns in the winning of a ‘secret war’: specifically, the covert war of ‘disinformation’ prosecuted by British Intelligence which was integral to Allied victory in World War Two. This element of the story, as with every aspect of Ghosts of the Empire, has been based on historical fact.
Biographical Note on the Author
Justin Sheedy had his first book, Goodbye Crackernight, published at the end of 2009. A comic memoir of growing up in 1970s Australia (when a child’s proudest possession was not a Playstation but a second-hand bike), it recently secured him a place on the official program of the prestigious Byron Bay Writers Festival 2010. For full details, go to Crackernight.com.
Justin is now seeking a publisher for his next work, Ghosts of the Empire, the completed manuscript of 106 000 words having been through the NSW Writers’ Centre Mentorship Program, as was Goodbye Crackernight. Ghosts of the Empire, the product of several years’ research and Australian war veteran interviews, is a tale as exhilaratingly heroic as it is tragic, combining Justin’s passion for Australian history with his now well-appreciated sense of humour and story-telling skill. Based on a chapter of our war history as yet untold in Fiction, Ghosts of the Empire is a tale of Australians as world-beaters in a far simpler time, a portrait of the self-sacrifice of arguably the finest generation our country has ever produced, a story that, in these uncertain times, is now ripe to be told.
SO WATCH THIS SPACE, FOLKS. AND SAY A PRAYER. OH, AND BETTER MAKE IT A NICE, BIG ONE…