Australian Story Unpublished – “Nor the Years Condemn” by Justin Sheedy (Australian Publishers, HEL-LO…)
JUSTIN SHEEDY’S LATEST BOOKS “NOR THE YEARS CONDEMN” & GHOSTS OF THE EMPIRE” NOW AVAILABLE AT THE AUSTRALIAN WAR MEMORIAL! ALSO AT AMAZON – with GREAT REVIEWS, AT DYMOCKS STORES, GLEEBOOKS, BERKELOUW BOOKS, ABBEY’S BOOKSHOP, WATERSTONES & WH SMITH (UK) AND VIA ALL BOOKSTORES.
25th of April in Australia is ANZAC Day. An annual national holiday when, along with our New Zealand cousins, Australians stop to remember the young men and women who have fought in wars in the name of our country since before we even had ‘Nation’ status up until the present day. ‘ANZAC’ stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, the name conferred upon our young men who in 1915 fought at Gallipoli then in France and Belgium in what became erroneously christened ‘The War to End All Wars’. Though we had been fighting for England in the Boer War and the Chinese ‘Boxer Rebellion’ as early as 1899, Gallipoli is popularly considered Australia’s ‘birth’ as our nation: the site where we truly took our place as Australians on a world stage. That this long and deadly campaign against the Turks in 1915 was the result of hopeless planning by our imperial masters and melted to utter military failure is neither here nor there; the point of Gallipoli for Australians is that we discovered there how much we meant and still mean to each other as Australians. We sum it up in a single word: ‘Mateship’. Whether it makes you cringe or your heart thump with pride, it’s a loaded term.
For me, ANZAC Day is a great day every year for many reasons, not least in that it reminds us how the Australians and Turks fighting each other at Gallipoli realised, even at the time, that they had no quarrel with each other and were only fighting for their imperial masters, Great Britain and Germany respectively, Australians and Turks having coexisted in an atmosphere of mutual respect and reconciliation ever since. There’s also something delightfully Australian in the fact that we can so admire a defeat – as so eloquently encapsulated in Daryl Kerrigan’s immortal words in The Castle: “Yeah, but y’did y’BEST!!” Most importantly though, to me it seems that every ANZAC Day Australians manage to unite. Whether right-wing or left, interventionist or pacifist, we stop, and remember the actual people, the actual Australians who fought and still fight our bloody wars. We say “Lest We Forget”, archaic English for “In order that we do not forget”. We wear sprigs of rosemary – a herb that flourished on the blasted cliffs of Gallipoli – and recite ‘The Ode of Remembrance’…
“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
Lest we forget.”
These lines are taken from a poem entitled For the Fallen by Lawrence Binyon. An Englishman, he wrote it in 1914. A few years back, I wrote to the estate of the late Binyon, asking for permission to quote these lines in the work of historical fiction I was then researching and writing. They said yes.
As some of you may already be aware, I had my first book, Goodbye Crackernight, published at the end of 2009. To my delight and relief it was a huge success for a 1st Book and saw me invited to the Byron Bay Writers’ Festival 2010. Despite this success, no Australian Publisher would pick up my next book, so I published it in 2012 as an Ebook on SMASHWORDS and as a Print-on-Demand Paperback at AMAZON where it received Rave Reader Reviews. It’s called Nor the Years Condemn. And even though every publishing company in Australia is still blind to its commercial & literary success, a major Australian Book Distribution company wasn’t and they recently offered me a major deal. As a result Nor the Years Condemn and my just-released Book 2 in the series, Ghosts of the Empire, are now available at DYMOCKS, GLEEBOOKS, BERKELOUW BOOKS, ABBEY’S BOOKSHOP, WATERSTONES & WH SMITH (UK) and even at THE AUSTRALIAN WAR MEMORIAL. Nor the Years Condemn and Ghosts of the Empire are historical fictions, the product of several years’ research including veteran interviews. Just like the Gallipoli story they are tales of bravery, sacrifice and loss. Yet, unlike the Gallipoli story, mine are not stories of defeat. Intensively based on fact and true history, they are stories of masterful victory in World War II, of airborne exhilaration, of high adventure, mortal danger and levels of personal skill that defy belief. Think 37 000 Aussie backpackers, never been outside Australia, in Europe for the first time, and with a rather unusual working-holiday job…
NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY, ALL EXPENSES PAID
DESIRABLE: DUX OF SCHOOL, CAPTAIN OF FIRST XV or XI
WILL TRAIN IN AUSTRALIA PRE-EMBARKATION
TORPEDOING & DEATH EN ROUTE A POSSIBILITY
JOB DESCRIPTION: STOP HITLER
This was the daily Office… (Turn your PC Sound On)
THEY COULD BE 20-YEARS-OLD OR YOUNGER.
And my passion is to tell their story. I’ve written it. If you haven’t already read excerpts, please do CLICK HERE FOR A LOOK.
Goodbye Crackernight got me to the Byron Bay Writers’ Festival 2010. The fact that I could then say it had (also that I could now claim to be ‘a published author’) got my telephone pitches for Nor the Years Condemn past Reception at the major publishing houses and called back by them starting with Hachette at the end of 2010, then Harper Collins in the New Year, then Random House, Pan Macmillan, Penguin.
In a nutshell, the Australian publishing landscape is as follows: The competition for new publishing contracts is so fierce – “cut-throat” was the word used by last year’s Vogel Award-winner, Rohan Wilson – that the industry’s unwritten rule is if you’re looking to be published and you’re not already, forget it. (If there is a more apt context than Writing for the term “Catch-22”, please let me know what it is.) More than one of the above companies’ websites stress ‘We are NOT accepting unsolicited fiction manuscripts’ – “unsolicited” meaning “put forward by an author, not a Literary Agent”. When, a few years back, I enquired at a respected Australian writers’ centre whether I should continue in my quest for a literary agent (the Holy Grail of Australian publishing), I was advised, in essence, no, one would seek me when I was already published and earning enough money from it that they could see their 15% commission. I think this is what they call “Deja-22”. (?) Still, I got Nor the Years Condemn in part or whole IN the front doors of the above-listed publishing biggies. But none of them picked it up, so (as I mentioned above) I published it myself to great reviews. It even broke 2012 In-Store Event Sales Records at DYMOCKS. See HERE...
Still not picked up by an Australian Publisher, the book got me invited to the Gloucester Writers’ Festival 2012 and received its first print media coverage in the Byron Bay area’s Northern Star newspaper (“A Must-Read” was the headline, CLICK HERE), followed by articles in Sydney’s Inner West Courier, the Parramatta Sun ‘PS’ Magazine April 2012 issue, and in the Northern District Times. CLICK HERE for the excellent Northern District Times article of 30 March 2012, “The Fight for Survival”, which received the following comment from actual World War II RAF veteran, Arthur Westerhoff: “I served with 74 Sqdn. as ground crew during the Battle of Britain and realize what a great job Justin Sheedy has done in bringing to light the exploits of these young Australian fighter pilots during World War II.” Click HERE for the ANZAC Day 2012 Special Edition article “Nor the Years Condemn” received in Sydney’s North Shore Times.
The true story on which my books are based is a great Australian story. And when Australians read my books they’ll be even prouder of who they are.
One female reader, on finishing the complete manuscript of Nor the Years Condemn, said she felt that she’d just learnt to fly. This is one intention of the book: that the reader, embroiled in this most challenging and exhilarating of human experiences, should feel in the hot-seat with the story’s main character from the very outset, and on every step of his increasingly dangerous way. The young Australians picked to become pilots in World War Two had to be, out of necessity, the ‘best and brightest’, physically and mentally. This fact makes for some great fictional characters – high intelligence, superb sense of humour – rendering their loss within the story all the more personally tragic for the reader. To my relief, the above-mentioned reader read the manuscript three times and was in tears three times.
“Nor the Years Condemn” is a story of shining young men destined never to become old, and of those who do, the surivors, ‘condemned by the years’ and to their memory of friends who remain forever young. I signed copies of the book at Dymocks Chatswood in the lead-up to ANZAC Day 2013. And am just about to do that same for Book 2 in the series, “Ghosts of the Empire”, for ANZAC Day 2014. Perhaps a Major Australian Publisher will get the message… One of these days…
JUSTIN SHEEDY’S LATEST BOOKS “NOR THE YEARS CONDEMN” & GHOSTS OF THE EMPIRE” NOW AVAILABLE AT THE AUSTRALIAN WAR MEMORIAL! ALSO AT AMAZON – with GREAT REVIEWS.
AT DYMOCKS STORES, GLEEBOOKS, BERKELOUW BOOKS, ABBEY’S BOOKSHOP, WATERSTONES & WH SMITH (UK) AND VIA ALL BOOKSTORES.