We're talking books and coffee on today's coffee chat with Glebe based author, Justin Sheedy.
Welcome Justin to my virtual café.
DL: Firstly, since this a virtual coffee chat, how do you have your coffee? Are you a morning or afternoon person?
Justin: Strong, black, no sugar, on ice. I’m religious about coffee. Beginning a day without one is unthinkable. Thanks to cutting-edge parents, I was privileged to espresso strength coffee since a child in 1970s suburbia at a time when my school friends didn’t even know what percolated coffee WAS. One of my most treasured possessions is my stove-top 6-cup Bialetti Moka Express percolator, the same model my family had when I was a child. Oh and on weekdays I’m a morning person, on weekends an afternoon person, coffee on ice either way first thing after rising. And I mean that literally.
Justin: I can only agree with your ‘past behaviour’ indicator re human nature: The old maxim that ‘all we learn from history is that we never learn from history’ seems eternally true. As humans we know we’ve never been without war so why is it still like a bolt of lightning for us to think that somewhere in this world a war rages at this very moment? Perhaps because we’re in denial of our past, so of our present. My World War II historical novels are hugely ANTI-WAR stories. They portray the ancient and eternal tragedy of young men fighting old men’s wars, of history something we are condemned to repeat. As for predicting the future, the past informs us that it will look like the present. I’ll be a happy old man if I turn out wrong.
DL: In one of your reviews, the reader states that your war story "Nor The Years Condemn" should be on the national curriculum. Have you spoken to schools about getting your books onto their reading list, or is it even impossible for an indie author to do so?
Justin: I was utterly honoured to have had that said of Book 1 in my trilogy and it has just been said again of Book 3, “No Greater Love”, released just weeks back. Yet no, I have not spoken to schools about getting my books onto their reading lists. Long overdue I investigated this. As for it being impossible for an indie author (i.e., one like me without a massive publishing company behind them), my experience shows me that nothing is impossible for an indie author.
DL: What has been the reaction in countries other than Australia? The battles didn't happen in Australia, I'm curious to know if readers in the UK are interested in these tales.
Justin: International reaction to my war novels has been brilliant. All I ever used to dream of last thing before falling asleep at night yet never expected would come true. The loveliest responses from all over the English-speaking world from grandmothers to history nerds to young lady readers who don’t usually read war stories yet who’ve vowed to me I made them cry in every chapter. And you’re spot-on: My books bring alive the amazing real-life drama of World War II as fought on the other side of the planet from us here in Australia: in the UK and Europe. So for UK readers, it’s engaging enough for them that my novels are set right where they live in the UK, but on top of that I portray THEIR war as it was fought by Australians who crossed the planet to BE there fighting it alongside them. This ‘crossing the planet to fight other people’s wars’ theme is of course a key engaging factor for Australian readers of my stories, being as it is the story of our nation since White settlement to the present day. Then again there’s a universal appeal in my stories simply due to the true history that they’re so closely based on: True history that is so surreally exciting and dramatic as to be the stuff of science fiction and fantasy except it’s all true. In a nutshell, the kind of REAL drama that was surely the inspiration for the attack on the Death Star in ‘Star Wars’.
DL: Do you think being a writer in one of the most iconic cultural places in Sydney - Glebe (I'm jealous) - has helped fuel your creativity?
Justin: Um, no not in itself, I don’t think: I think what really fuels MY creativity is the exhilaration of travelling back in time. Which is where my stories send me and so my readers. I think maybe they’re an escape from my present, from my reality, from Glebe, from Australia, at least, from Australia of the present time back to another. Yes, I suppose my writing is all about time travel. And I’M not even a Dr Who tragic though I am a long-time appreciator of the truly great story-telling which is the whole tradition of Dr Who: Stories (and this is science fiction itself) where anything you can imagine is possible. The thing is my based-on-fact war stories are like science fiction except real.
PS, speaking of Sydney, I’m doing a book-signing at Dymocks Sydney on Saturday 12th November, the day after Remembrance Day, all day from 10am. It’ll be wall-to-wall red poppies from Australian War Memorial, the red poppy of remembrance being a key symbol of my war trilogy.
DL: And last question, what is your favourite biscuit and/or cake at the moment?
Justin: Greek baklava. I suspect I may have been Greek in a past life. …No, not Greek baklava. Any and ALL baklava. Yes.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
“NO GREATER LOVE”
To abandoned child, Colin Stone, World War Two grants an escape from the mean streets of St. Kilda. A natural warrior, his talents qualify him to join an elite group of young men. The shining ones. Who fly Spitfires against Nazi tyranny. Rising with them, from the top Colin Stone looks down on a world that has doomed his first true friends.
Bringing to vivid life true Australian war history and events, "No Greater Love" is a saga in the classic mold, featuring the drama, beauty, heroism and horror of one young man's war journey through stunning Malta, Egypt and North Africa, Sicily, England and Europe. It is a portrait of the once-in-a-lifetime characters the war places on his path, of the tragic, wholesale waste of war, on occasion even the profound humanity of his enemy, and of his evolving perception of his world for what it is.
Though standing on its own as a ripping and also highly emotional read, "No Greater Love" is the third and final chapter of Justin Sheedy's now widely and warmly cherished World War Two novel trilogy begun with "Nor the Years Condemn" and "Ghosts of the Empire". Continuing and now concluding their portrait of shining young men destined never to grow old, "No Greater Love" is the full and rich story of Part 1's reader-favourite character, Aussie rough diamond Colin Stone ('Stoney'). It is the story of his war, of his loyalty and devotion to his friends, of his enduring love for the mother who abandoned him, and his dreams of being held by her once again.
WHERE TO BUY
“No Greater Love” by Justin Sheedy plus Books 1 & 2 in the trilogy “Nor the Years Condemn” & “Ghosts of the Empire” available via Dymocks bookstores, Readings Books, Berkelouw Books, Gleebooks, Amazon, Booktopia, The Book Depository, Waterstones Online, Barnes & Noble Online plus orderable via all bookstores & book retail websites.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Justin Sheedy's saga brings to vivid life a stunning true story in our ANZAC tradition yet one which until now remained untold in Australian historical fiction: the story of how our nation’s best-and-brightest youth volunteered for the most dangerous job of World War II, crossing the planet to become the pilots and aircrew who flew against the might of Nazi tyranny. This hellish struggle they won in the most exciting way imaginable and with even LESS chance of survival than if they had been at Gallipoli or in the trenches of the Western Front. Though intensively based on true history, Sheedy has written his war trilogy in historical fiction format as the ‘best and brightest’ fact upon which his story is based makes plausible a line-up of awesome fictional characters, bringing to life for the reader the kind of shining personalities who made our true history. Falling in love with such characters only to lose them rams home for the reader the anti-war message that Sheedy intends.
Saturday 12th November
(the day after Remembrance Day)
all day from 10am
CONTACT THE AUTHOR
THANKS SO MUCH FOR DROPPING BY!
D L RICHARDSON