28th November 2016
All Of Us Together
Written by Bill Condon
Released: 30 October 2016
Book title: All of Us Together
Author: Bill Condon
Published by: About Kids Books
RRP: (Paperback) $14.99
Intended Audience: primary school age-8+
Tell us about yourself
I started writing when I was in my teens. It was always a far-off dream, a fantasy, rather than something I believed I could ever achieve. So, without any real plan, I stumbled into writing in a more serious capacity, first with adult stage plays, and then eventually with children’s books. I live on the south coast of NSW with my wife Di (Dianne) Bates, and I’m a happy bloke.
Tell us about your latest book. What’s it about?
It’s a junior novel called All Of Us Together which is set in Australia at the start of the Great Depression of the 1930s. Despite the historical setting, it’s an easy-read about an ordinary working class family and what happens to them when the Depression hits.
There are three children in the family, two girls and a boy, as was the case in my own family. When the Depression hits Dad has to go off in search of work, as was often the case in those days. Daniel, the oldest of the children, tries to make some money for the family, but things don’t work out as he hopes. Soon he has to come terms with the fact that he has let his parents down, by stealing. To makes matters worse, it’s his one and only friend Bede, who has led him astray. Like so many people of that time, Daniel and his family face life-changing challenges, but they get through them by standing together.
Who is your target audience for this book?
I’ve never really had a specific target audience in mind, but I suppose it would be of most interest to children from say eight to fourteen or so. Much depends on the reading ability of the Individual child. The main character, Daniel, is twelve, and his sisters are just a few years younger, so I think it would be fine for children around that age.
What aspects did you find challenging about this book?
When I first tried to write it in 2015 I made it to about three-quarters of the way through, before deciding I didn’t like it. I wrote the book in third person and it didn’t feel compelling or alive enough to me. It just didn’t work. So I put it aside and went back to the very important business of twiddling my thumbs and/or staring out the window. This went on until January this year when I decided to have another try. I went back to Page One and changed it the whole thing to first person. Gradually it started to take shape and I began to like and understand the characters, so I kept on writing.
Another problem for me was the dreaded writer’s block. Before All Of Us Together I hadn’t finished anything of any decent length for four years. I’m 67 and I had convinced myself that I was just too old to write. So every time a problem came up with the story, I had a ready-made excuse. During those four years I tried to write just about every day, but I couldn’t do it. Though I kept my fears largely to myself, I came to believe my writing days were behind me. Changing to first person gave me the breakthrough that I needed, and the confidence to continue.
What does your book offer the reader that differs from others covering similar subjects?
There are probably lots of Australian books set in or around the Great Depression. It’s a period in our history that offers rich opportunities for writers. But I think my story would be different from most because many of the things that transpire were actually part of my life. Before anyone jumps to conclusions, I’m not quite old enough to have lived through the Depression, but some of the things I got up to as a child, become Daniel’s adventures. Another point of difference from my story and others may be my use of humour. There are sad moments too, of course, but a vein of humour runs through the book. Also, I use a lot of dialogue. I think that is often easier to read and more entertaining than endless prose.
How did the idea for this book come about?
I remember my dad telling me about men who worked on road gangs during the Great Depression. They’d shovel dirt for ages and as soon as they got tired, they were out of a job. I also recall my mum reminiscing about the down-and-outs who would turn up at the door of her parents’ home looking for a handout. She said they were always given something to eat. I probably heard those stories in my teens, and then around fifty years later, they came back to me when I was scrabbling around for a new project. Once I started to research the era I knew there was ample material for me to create a book.
Find out more about Bill Condon
Bill Condon's website: www.enterprisingwords.com.au
About Kids Books: www.aboutkidsbooks.com
Bill Condon has been writing for children of all ages for more than thirty years. In that time he has written several collections of poems and plays. He has four times been shortlisted for the Children’s Book Council Book of the Year Awards. In 2010 he won the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Young Adult Fiction.
All of Us Together is available from About Kids Books www.aboutkidsbooks.com/about/payment-methods or from any children's bookstore.