The adventures Robert Hillman enjoyed reading as a child made him yearn to fashion his own stories.
It seems to me that love is the most essential human experience, but it is always fraught, and more demanding than any other undertakingRobert Hillman
“When I was fifteen, I purchased a portable Olivetti typewriter and started work on my lifetime’s passion,” he said. “My first stories were frightful, but I persisted.
“Eventually, I had short stories accepted for publication and finally a novel.”
Now Hillman, a featured author in this year’s Write Around The Murray, has more than 100 published books, including fiction, history, biographies, autobiography, children’s and young adult books.
“Writing became my life’s work, and I couldn’t be more delighted to be able to say that,” he said.
Hillman will help launch the 2018 Write Around The Murray literary festival on July 26 when he and Stan “Yarra” Yarramunua talk about their collaborative biography A Man Called Yarra.
This story details Yarra’s childhood with an alcoholic and abusive father, his own battles with alcoholism and rise to success as an artist, actor, musician, businessman and charity worker.
Hillman thought audiences would find the process of writing the biography intriguing.
“Stan is a guy I fell in love with as a writer,” he said.
“He had a big, rambunctious tale of despair and triumph to tell and for me every interview and every chapter was thrilling.”
The author said the strategies and techniques involved in writing a biography remained the same as in fiction writing.
“What is important is the sympathy of the writer for the subject and I had complete sympathy with Stan,” he said.
Hillman’s novel The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted, the 2018 Book of the Festival, explores a theme he pursues in all his fiction – love and its impediments.
“It seems to me that love is the most essential human experience, but it is always fraught, and more demanding than any other undertaking,” he said.
“The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted explores a situation in which love faces a severe test of commitment.”
In the novel, a farmer in central Victoria, abandoned by his wife and caring for a son not his own, falls in love with a Jewish Hungarian migrant struggling with her own sorrows.
Write Around The Murray, September 5-9, will examine this year’s theme Life. Stories.
Memoirs feature in the five-day program of workshops and conversations, which includes contributions from Jessie Cole, Ailsa Piper, Tony Wright and Chris Hammer.
- writearoundthemurray.org.au for more details
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