Toni Tapp Coutts – life in the Top End (and win a copy of Border Watch!)

Toni in Eleanor Dark's studio

Toni in Eleanor Dark's studio

I met Toni through the LongLines programme at Varuna. We spent a week living in Eleanor Dark’s house along with Meg Mooney, a poet from Alice Springs, Liana Christensen from Perth and David Wright from Tasmania by way of Africa. The week was facilitated and mentored by Peter Bishop – a living national treasure!  It was a wonderful opportunity to talk to other writers about their work and inspirations (and drink red wine, stoke the fire and contemplate life, of course!) Hopefully over the next few months I’ll introduce you to all of them in my blog. The question you need to answer to be in the running for a copy of Border Watch is at the end of the Toni’s post!

So welcome, Toni, it’s great to have you here. I had the privilege of hearing some of your stories when we had our nightly readings at Varuna. They are wonderful, colourful snapshots of your world, full of unforgettable characters. How did you come to be a writer? How did your childhood shape your writing?

I have always loved writing. It started with my days at boarding school when my Mum wrote me long letters from home and I wrote long ones back.  I think my letters were mainly about my boyfriends and asking for more money and not too much about school, but English and Art were my favourite subjects.   My Mum wrote long letters about what everyone was doing on the station – who came and went, who had babies and who won the Melbourne Cup Sweep.

I am the eldest of 10 children.  I was born in Alice Springs in 1955 and returned to Katherine when my mother left my father in 1960.  Very shortly after she met my step father Bill Tapp. My mother, younger brother Billy and sister Shing moved out to Killarney Station 270 kms south west of Katherine.  Bill Tapp had just bought Killarney and it was a pretty wild place, no fences, no housing, very little water.  My mother’s two younger brothers were working for him along with a few aboriginal stockmen. When we arrived at Killarney there was only a bough shed.  We camped out in swags at night and slept in an upturned water tank in the wet season.  We lived like this for about 2 or 3 years before moving to another location on the station. We built a better shed.

My lovely and sad step father rode the heights of richness and power, but died a sad lonely alcoholic at Killarney Station in 1993, with three cattle stations in receivership and 2 huge court cases with the NT Government and Elders GM – legacy for the family to sort out.  It has long been settled and I put it all down to good character building stuff!  I have six brothers and three sisters and 8 of us still live in NT. Some  have cattle stations and most of us girls are involved in the arts, though my husband and I managed cattle stations for many years in the Borroloola area and the VRD.  We all competed at Campdrafts and Rodeos.

My writing has centered around the people, the characters, and my life of growing up on a cattle station in the Northern Territory, as well as the characters and people I meet around town.  I had an amazing childhood growing up with traditional aboriginal people, being part of, observing and learning about their way of life.  I went hunting with the old ladies, they taught me about tracking, how to make fire, to corroboree and how to live off the land.  They also taught us respect, truth and integrity, as did my parents.

Wonderful, grounding wisdom, Toni. You now live in Katherine, which to many Australians is a town somewhere near Darwin, way up north where the crocs are huge and beer bottles even bigger. Tell us a bit about the town and how it influences your writing.

Katherine is the centre of the universe…LOL.    A town of 10,000 people, it is the hub centre for a region the size of Victoria which covers the area from the Queensland boarder in the gulf across to Kununnurra on the Western Australian border. The total population of the Katherine Region, outside the township, is 18,000 people.  (Which is why it is the centre of the universe…LOL.)

The main industries are tourism, Defence (RAAF Base Tindal), pastoral and mining. Hundreds of thousands of white Braham cattle are sent off to the live export boats to Indonesia, Philippines etc.

Jeez, I am getting off the track.  The people?…Katherine is a crazy town.  33% of the population identify as indigenous, we have the large Defence base personal and a strong Filipino community as well as a highly transient community where people come for work during the tourist season, and the mango picking in October.

Those of us who are born and bred here are considered the ‘Locals.’  Often if you ask some one how long they have been here they will say.’I have been here for 20 years but I am not a local.’  Funny how we create these unseen psychological barriers with ourselves about who we are and where we belong.

Katherine  has long had a history of social issues concerning alcohol abuse, urban drift from indigenous communities and the ‘long grassers’ people living around the outside of the town and in the Katherine River.  Oh … and we have an amazing River that begins in southern Arnhem Land, leads into the Katherine Gorge, the Daly River, and into the ocean near the WA Border. This River has featured in my writing in the last few years as we went through a devastating flood in 1998.  1.3 metres of water went through my house and 2 metres through the shop in the middle of town.

Our writing group KROW (Katherine Region of Writers) produced a book in 1999 covering the stories of the Flood.  The River features in our group’s story writing all the time.  Whether it is fishing or croc story, a drowning or a murder, suicide or sex, there is plenty of inspiration flowing from this source. I had the pleasure of working with Sydney Playwright, Alana Valentine, whom our group had met through the Varuna Longlines Program a few years ago.  I conduced interviews and did research for Alana to write a play called ‘WATERMARK’ about the Katherine Flood.  The play won an AWGIE in 2009 and Alana is currently in the studio turning it into a radio play for Radio National to be aired some time this year on AIRPLAY.  The play is also going to be the feature performance at the annual Katherine Festival in  August.

Living in a small town provides you with an up close and personal experience of people that you may not get in cities.  I have written stories about picking up a drunken aboriginal women and the story she told me as we drove home, a story about a funny funeral and the conversation I had with a taxi driver one night.  I find it amazing what strangers will tell you in a short space of time…It’s underlying story I guess is of loneliness and not feeling like any one is listening to you.

And that loneliness can strike anywhere, even in the middle of a busy capital city, can’t it. You’re actively involved in the Arts community in the Northern Territory. Give us some insights into your favourite events/publications?

I have just taken on the position of the Executive Officer of Katherine Regional Arts. I have worked on and off with this org for about 4 years in a contract position delivering arts projects to remote communities.  I was able to instigate 2 new indigenous festivals at Timber Creek 300kms west of Kath, and Binjari just 15kms out of Kath.  I have collaborated with Young Voices of Melbourne Choir to share a traditional song with the Mialli People at Kybrook Farm 90kms north of Kath.  The Melbourne Choir learnt the song then performed at Kybrook (pop 100) with the Kybrook Choir.   An artist girlfriend and I have produced a series of large 2m story banners in a number of communities and these are fantastic. I have organised bands and performances and have been the Chairperson of the Katherine Festival for 6 years and Chair of the Katherine Country Music Muster. I am now also doing a second stint as Alderman on the Katherine Town Council. All these experiences and activities are inspiring and creative and add to the experience of living in a small town.  Not that I think 10,000 is really that small.

I’m the Regional Vice President of the NT Writers Centre.  The NTWC has been a huge help to myself and other local writers in developing our writing and providing opportunities for workshops etc with visiting professional writers, and I have had the pleasure of meeting many of Australia’s top writers such as Helen Garner, Alexis Wright, Shaun Tan, William McInnes along with emerging new writers such as Helene Young from Cairns.  I met Plucka Duck who came to the Katherine Festival for a duck race in the 1990’s!  The arts and writing have allowed me to see and do things that most Australians will never see, all in little ole remote Katherine Town

Ha, thanks for the vote of confidence Toni! Did Plucka Duck stay in costume the whole time?? Must have been roasting in the heat….(sorry…)

I know you helped produce several anthologies. Tell us a bit about them.

KROW has produced 7 anthologies since its inception in 1991. I have seen our professionalism and experience grow over these years.  Along with the ‘Katherine’s Comin Down’ Stories of the 1998 Katherine Flood we have produced ‘Limestone Lilies and Liars’ (LLL) , a collection of short fiction stories.  ‘Chilies Cheats and Chocolates’ (CCC) a collection of stories with a food theme and in 2009 ‘Make-believe Magic and Mayhem (MMM)’ a collection of children’s stories. I have taught my self Photoshop and designed the covers of the books.  The most recent book, MMM, we totally produced on our own and had it printed on www.lulu.com from the USA. This has been very successful and half the price of self publishing anywhere else.

There’s a core of about 5 people who have been involved in KROW for the past 10 years and self publishing has not only given us an outlet for our own writing, but helped us to develop  our own skills in editing, proofing, layout etc because of the cost of accessing these can be prohibitive for a small hobby group. I have had various works published in a variety of genres and have been short listed for the NT Literary Awards.

Self publishing has worked for your group and as you point out, you learn so much about the process when you do your own editing etc. What are you working on at the moment?

I have huge vault of short stories, interviews and ramblings and am currently working on a creative non fiction collection of stories about my early life growing up on a cattle station in the outback.  I have completed about 13 stories, approx 2,000 – 3,500 words.

I had hoped to get my manuscript a bit further advanced and I feel it’s close to completion.  I don’t have as many stories raging around in my head as I did just six months ago for this particular project, however my social life always seems to take over.  I still don’t have a title for the book which is most annoying…

I will have a story published in Meanjin in the March 2010 Issue and this came from meeting the editor and writer, Sophie Cunningham, who did an NT Writers Centre  tour in the NT last year.

The Tapp family – in other words my mother and I, the family gatekeepers –  have been asked to provide an exhibition about my father and Killarney at the local Museum in July 2010.  I do the odd weekend work at the Museum, so this is another source of inspiration. I have a lot of material from when I started to write his story, so I intend to get this into a little book with photos for etc for that.  I will self publish it on www.lulu.com

Bill Tapp sounds fascinating and it is so important to record those histories before the memories are lost. How do you write? Do you have an outline, an idea or a scene in your head that grows as the story progresses?

I just waffle as is evident from the above!  LOL.

I have the storage bank of my mind from my childhood and my life in general, but I also love writing the stories about contemporary Katherine NT.

At the moment I am focusing on the first 12 years of my life.  With my large family and my mother still living in the Katherine area, we have a huge intellectual base of family stories.  Christmas is a good time as we get together more and laugh and share stories.

The most recent story I have written was sparked when I asked my brother Billy.

’What is your earliest memory of living at Killarney, other than mustering cattle and riding horses?’ He immediately replied.  ‘The day Nita and I were playing with matches and we burnt the old saddle shed down.’

This immediately brought to mind Nita, whom I had given little thought to until he said this.  Nita is (was) a full blood Aboriginal girl who was my best friend until she was sent off to her promise husband, ‘Vincent Lingiari’ who was famous for the leading the ‘Wave Hill Walk Off’  in 1966. This sparked a whole story of the games we played and the aboriginal ladies teaching us to dance corroborees, picking nits out of our hair etc etc.  I wrote the story in about4 hours.

I never thought I would see her again a she had gone to live a very traditional life and I assumed she had lots of children.  Then one day, thirty years later, I saw Nita in the main Street of Katherine in front of my dress shop, very drunk, fighting with her man, throwing her clothes off as she screamed and yelled.  I knew it was her because she had a very distinctive hand with three missing fingers.  I talked to her and convinced her to put her clothes back on and she disappeared wobbling drunkenly down the street, still reading the mans pedigree to him and telling him what she was going to do with him when they got home. I heard that she died about 3 or 4 years ago in the long grass in Darwin.

Toni, it’s been fabulous learning about life in the Northern Territory. I can hear your voice as I read your post. It’s so vibrant!

Darwin hosts the Wordstorm Festival in March and I’m looking forward to catching up with you there. There’s a fantastic line up literary talent headed up north.

And so to the question!

What’s your earliest childhood memory.

Were you four years old and your older brother was teasing you? Maybe you were an early starter and can remember the ‘terrible twos’. Or was it something like Toni’s memories of growing up on a cattle station? Is it a happy memory?

So much of what we write seems to start with those early years. We’ll put Toni in the hot seat and choose one by Saturday morning!

On Varuna's front step

On Varuna's front step

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33 thoughts on “Toni Tapp Coutts – life in the Top End (and win a copy of Border Watch!)

  1. G’Day, Toni,
    Great to read about you, and your success – I guess your tutor (when you was just a little, lovely ankle-biter) may have something to do with your great insight which you have today.
    I haven’t had a look at Bill’s entry on the net, yet, but I an writing about my last sixty years of my life – much of which I spent in the NT. I had a lot of time for Bill and what he achieved at Killarney.
    You may remember me – after all I left a little bit of me at Killarney (my ring finger). Have you kept in touch with Jan – I would like to contact her, again.
    Lots of love to you, and best wishes.
    Ian Geer.

  2. Hello Peter
    I am writing a small bio on Bill Tapp to go with an exhibition at the Katherine Museum. If you google his name you will find quite a bit of info. Very interesting man and so glad he was part of my life despite the alcoholism etc. Just add to all good character building stuff. TTC

  3. Peter, I think Toni is writing a book about her dad which will be out in July.

    Sounds like you have some wonderful memories to share. Can we look forward to your book coming out soon?

  4. One sunny day a smiling fellow appeared on our back lawn. He had just moved to Nielsen Park(Vaucluse)-he was a “new boy” at Scots College and a mate of my young brother, Boris (Boss). I think his Dad was a scientist. As cast my mind back to those very happy days I see Billy Tapp as one of those real Australians. A friendly, gentle and very sincere chap. He was a good friend but I don’t know whether he kept in touch with Boss(making films in Papua-was drowned in Pacific 1965).
    In 1948, Andy McCullough and I turned up at Mataranka after our effort to see as much as possible of our homeland before departing for overseas. We jumped “rattlers” to Alice, worked on building sites, with road gangs, airports, lumber and salt mines etc. “Hardly the way to travel” some folks said but what a wonderful surprise to meet the tall Jackeroo outside the Mataranka hotel. And what a great time we had! Bill took us around in an Elsey Station ute, and we explored, swam and spoke of old days, old friends and the old school.
    The ground at night seemed alive with little people all whispering,dancing,squeaking-it was our first night in the tropics after months in the desert.
    I am writing about that memorable journey and by fate have reached the night “road train” to Mataranka, I had a page about
    June Tapp taken from SMH-can’t locate just now. I would love to know about his rise and inevitable fall, I think of him as a great Australian. Any books?? All good wishes, Pete. (Peter N. Cook)

  5. I love the ‘and the winner is’ thingy and seeing my name. LOL That’s about as close as I’ll ever get to seeing my name in print, I think LOL. I’m in edit hell now. But you’ve made my day Helene. And Toni, I’m off to the Territory next week (on your site I mean LOL) That’s after my Emmy entry is in the mail.

  6. Thanks, Toni. Love the title of your webpage – Toni’s Territory!

    Will keep an eye out the Northern Territory writers and of course see you in Darwin at WordStorm, May 2010! Looking forward to that event enormously!

    Cheers
    Helene

    PS – Sandy, your perseverance is noted! xxx

  7. Thank you everyone for being part of this blog. What a great way to share stories. I think I am hooked and may start my own. NO…better get back to writing! Maybe my sister Kate and I should do a book of shared stories as I am the eldest and she is the youngest in the family. There is 18 years between us so our memories and experiences, coming from the same home are very different.
    Wishing you every success with Borderwatch Helene. What a fantasitc achievment. I went to the ‘Territory Read Awards’ in Darwin last Friday (just a 600km round trip) Winner was Maria Munkara “Every little Secret’ about growing up on a mission. Keep your eye out for it, it is written with great humour and depth. Winner of the Angus and Roberston Writing Award for writing for young people, was my good friend Leonie Norrington with ‘The Devil You Know’ Some of you may know Leonie from ‘Gardening Australia’ where she presents a section on tropical gardening. wishing you all a Happy Valentines Day and a year full of roses. TTC

  8. Congratulations Jen! Obviously I’m going to have to go ALL the way to Cairns and beg Helene to sign a book for me. (Or two, or three…)

  9. So after much deliberations (that involves putting the names in my daggy old garderning hat) the winner is Jen J McCleod!

    Jen, send me an email to heleneyoung01@gmail.com and a copy of Border Watch will make it’s way south to you!.

    Thanks for dropping by everyone. My next guest blogger will be Tanya Sarianti, a north Queensland artist. I’ll be welcoming her in the first week in March.

  10. Hi Kate, welcome to the blog. It sounds like your whole family have amazing lives that are very different to city dwellers. Your first memory is so sad, but one that is more common now than it used to be. And how funny that furniture seems to live on vividly in memories. I can still see my grandmother’s tv and lounge furniture…

    You’re just in time to go into the running for Border Watch! Entries are now officially closed and it’s over to Toni to decide the winner!

  11. My first memory was standing out the front of the ‘Bighouse’ at Killarney Station crying as my Mum was leaving my Dad (Bill Tapp). She headed to Kunanarra for a couple of weeks. I think I was about 3 years old. Mum ended up returning. She came with a few paintings. Artworks where a novelty on a Cattle Station. The one I remember features cattle in a yard and used to hang over the green velvet couch in the Bighouse. My brother Daniel Tapp now has the painting hanging at Big River Station.

    Another early memory was visiting my sister Toni (Coutts) at VRD Station. I arrived and she gave me a yellow bunny rabbit. I think it was left over from Easter or one of her son Ben’s toys. I loved that thing and thought all my Christmas’s had come at once.

  12. Hi Sandy, I reckon the Traffic Collision Avoidance System might be a bit overwhelmed… If it detected God and told you to descend you might think you’d missed out on a chance at heaven… And vice versa…. Could be most disconcerting.

    Love the idea of a young you getting airbourne as the shark surfaced. (Saw a fascinating programme about whale sharks the other day!)

    Toni, your books will end up on bookshelves all over the world! I think creative non-fiction is definitely on the rise. Memoirs are fascinating and your life is so very different to anything most of us will ever experience, your stories will find many homes. And you make me laugh – even on your facebook page. Hysterical!!

  13. Hi Toni, I can tell by your voice that you love your life and the experiences it brings, not to mention the land you inhabit. You definitely sound like a bush girl – capable of taking on anything, successfully. I’m an FNQ coastal girl, born and bred and my first memory is of when I was a toddler, we were out boating. If I stood on tippy-toe I could just reach my nose over the freeboard of the boat. I remember gazing across Bowling Green Bay to Cape Cleveland.
    Another memory – and this one is just for laughs hails from when I was a teenager. We’d gone out to the reef in my Dad’s 19 foot boat. We were moored and I saw my first whale shark, it surfaced right beside the boat, nose passed the bow and tail way behind the stern – and this was about a week after seeing JAWS. You can imagine our reactions!
    Had a real laugh about your brother being worried for God – keep your eyes open Helene!
    You must get your short stories recollections out there. For Christmas we bought my husband’s stepfather a book of droving tales from the region he grew up in in South West Queensland, he is having such a great time reading it and recalling some of the places and people. So good luck with that.

  14. I must say that we at Katherine Region of Writers only self publish for our local market and only print 300 a time. we send these to Radio National and have had pciked up for some of their shows and I have had a poem aired on Poetica through it. I am not a poet but put one in one of books jsut for fun..So you never know where things end up. As for my own book..of course I want it to be on every ones book shelf, in every bookshop in the country…who doesnt? so will keep writing and plug away. Creative Non Fiction, the genre I am writing in, still has to find its place in Australian writing but I believe there is a lot more interest out there now.

  15. Fiona, what wonderful advice. Your books and photos look fantastic – and such a beautiful website!

    Even when you’re with a publisher, marketing/selling is hard work. The feedback from my publisher is that the internet has changed they way they market and they themselves are always learning from authors who are out there doing interesting things. They encourage authors to think outside the square and try new approaches. Social media seems to have replaced blogs to a degree. Face Book (love it or hate it) gives an instant ten second grab into someone’s life.
    Twitter spreads the word far and wide and the strangest connections spring up from that.

    Fiona, you’ve obviously done well at promoting your books. Was there one particular area that stood out as effective?

  16. Hi all – interesting comments Helene & Toni.
    Hope you don’t mind me adding a couple of comments re. self publishing – covered elsewhere, but always worth repeating:
    a) it is said that you have to spend as much time & energy marketing the result, as you do producing it. As a self publisher myself I’d say it’s certainly true (and I’m so relieved I knew this before I published my first book. Forewarned really is forearmed – I spent years preparing so it went well.) There are probably thousands of garages will mouldering boxes of unsold self-published books in them. The really sad thing is, that some of these books would be excellent reads.
    b) Have an honest look at who will be interested in buying the self-published result. Don’t ask friends & relatives, develop your own judgement (which is what anyone working in the arts must do – and which, frustratingly, can take a number of years).
    c) Big publishers publish many rubbish books and so do many self publishers. Both produce good quality books but they are a small percentage overall. If you can’t find a publishing company interesting in producing your book, don’t presume their opinion is the be-all and end-all death knell, but do pay attention to any reasons given and figure out whether their criticism may be justified.
    As hard as writing a book is, selling it is usually where the really hard grind sets in. A well-written ‘local’ topic book will sell steadily through a supportive local town – eg a good book re. Alice Springs would sell steadily if Alice retailers were keen to help (i.e. stick it on the front counter and praise to customers). If the potential readership is scattered across Australia or further afield, a self published book will have to be sold via the internet, and that will be a challenge without a solid mailing list. Fleur for a book such as your cousins, I suspect a publisher would be the best way to go, or it may languish, regardless of how good it is.
    d) The big two, Dymocks and A & R, stock very few self-published books. But Australian book retailing is a huge topic in itself.
    d) Many people self-publish simply because they think they’ll make more of a profit (as publisher payment rates are generally so low), however once the overheads & marketing expenses come out, it’s probably six of one & half a dozen of the other, or worse.
    Hope some of the above helps, Fiona Lake

  17. Talking about aircraft has triggered another memory. On one occasion when we went out to pick up the mail from the mail plane and watched it take off and circle to say goodbye my little brother said, ‘I hope he doesn’t hit God.” LOL

  18. Great interview, Toni and Helene. Toni, you’ve lived a fascinating life in the Northern Territory. It’s a beautiful and challenging place.

    My first memory is as a toddler living near Ohakea Air Force base in New Zealand. The Vulcan jets used to fly over our place quite low. They terrified me. I remember screaming and running inside to Mum – what I don’t remember is apparently I reached up to grab her and pulled a jug of boiling water over myself and ended up in hospital.

    So 23 sleeps, Helene! Woohoo! I’m looking forward to your debut!
    🙂
    Sharon

  19. I have six brothers so plenty of testosterone happening there. The good thing about growing up on a cattle station is that there is plenty of country to use up all that energy. My brothers all fabulous horsemen, most still compete in cutting and campdrafts. All good rodeo riders in their younger days.

  20. Oh Fleur, where would we be without brothers!. My brother and sister had a memorable ice-cream fight which caught me in the middle and I got into trouble… never did figure out how that worked…

  21. Hi Jen, I know what you mean. First story Toni read to us at Varuna had me laughing through my tears!

    Love your story of Coober Pedy – definitely wouldn’t be brave enough now which is a shame. There are still plenty of people hitch hiking in Nth Qld – occasionally I’ll stop and pick up a female backpacker if I’m headed into town. They usually have fantastic stories of their adventures around Australia.

    And I’ve had a fabulous day! My copy of Border Watch is propped up in front of me. If I can work out how to do it, I’ll post a photo! Yeahhhh!! Very excited and it looks beautiful – and yes, I’m very very biased!

  22. Hi Helene, this isn’t my earliest memory, but nearly! I was eight and my brother six and we were arguing over a cream and jam bun (those things were sacred in our house!) Anyway, I ‘slipped’ and whacked him in the face – he got a blood nose! He retaliated and gave me a black eye! I think Mum decided the cream bun was for her and sent both us to our rooms, for appalling behaviour! I will add that Nicholas and I are wonderful friends now!

  23. Okay Helelne and Toni. That’s the first time I’ve ever cried at a blog! One minute I’m smiling at the picture of Nita giving hubby a good whackin’ and then you write, “I heard that she died about 3 or 4 years ago in the long grass in Darwin.” BOOM! Tears! So sad.
    What an amazing life, Toni. You sound like you’ve lived ten lives with all those expereinces. I’m so deperate to win this book of yours, Helene, but there’s no way I can recall anything of any interest to anyone when I was a child – boring suburban upbringing I’m afraid.
    But given I’ve never grown up (forever young – even at 50 this year) I’ll share my best memory from 26 years ago.
    I was travelling around Austrlaia in a Ford with a tent when my girlfirend and I stopped in Coober Pedy. Long story short – we spent the night camping in the bush with these 4 blokes (yes – we believed it was actually safer to do that then stay in the caravna park in Coober with a rather sus-looking caretaker). The men (from 40-50 in years) were SA farmers on their annual pilgrimage.
    They said that if we wanted to camp away from town, we should travel 100 clicks and when we see the VB box on a stick we should trun off and drive. We did!
    They’d shot a roo and that night made us roo tail soup, damper, roasted veges and roo and finished it off sharing a bottle of bundy. At bed time, we girls went our way with our shovel for the spinfex squat and they went theirs. Next morning we woke to the smell of bacon and eggs. It was THE most memorable experience of my life. (Not sure I’d do it nowadays. Thank goodness we were didn’t stop and think about consequences when we were young. Life would indeed have been very boring. (sorry about the long comment)

  24. For all its vast size Australia the distance between people is very small!!

    Welcome Fleur – love that you’re related to Toni’s friends.

    And what’s your earliest childhood memory?

  25. The most important thing with self publishing is ‘PROOF, PROOF Proof and Proof again.’ At KROW we pay an editor to help us with our strucutre and writing but we pass the final manuscript around to the group and double proof everyting. As far as we can ssee in the last book there is only one type and it is a persons name. The proces through Lulu is very clear and easy and they have templates for you to pour your text into for the book size you choose, and templates for the covers.
    I was born in Alice Springs and because of my time in the bush and long time a member of the Isolated Childrens Parents Assoc I know a lot of the Alice bushies. Some of my dearest friends are Karen Smith from Newcrown and Jan Heaslip from Bond Springs Station.

  26. Toni, I’ve loved hearing your story. Having spent a lot of time in Alice Springs as a child (my aunty and uncle have a cattle station, just out of Alice) I can understand what you’re talking about in the first part of the interview.

    I also found the self-publishing part, very interesting! My cousin (also from Alice, but now based in Adelaide) has written a book about her experiences teaching English law in a foreign country and has been toying with the idea herself. She would rather a publisher take it on, but if needs be, I think she would self-publish.What would be your most important piece of advise for self-publishing?

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