Great book review - NSW Writers' Centre

Book Review - NSW Writer's Centre. (Posted: May 30)
'Gunnedah Hero' book review by Michael Hanrahan - May 2012.

This book review came about as a result of me offering my book to the Emerging Writers' Festival's book review initiative. Michael Hanrahan is the Managing Editor of 'Rough Draft', a new publishing house in Melbourne. Sounds like a top bloke! The review can be seen on the NSW Writers' Centre website:

"Gunnedah Hero by Clancy Tucker: Emerging Writers’ Festival joins us for 366 Days of Writing.

Gunnedah Hero is a highly entertaining young adult  novel set predominantly in the Australian outback. Fourteen-year-old ‘Gunnie’  Danson’s late grandfather left him a box containing a manuscript written by  Gunnie’s great-great-grandfather Smokey Danson, following his cross-country  journey as a fourteen-year-old drover in 1910. Smokey had to venture out alone  in an effort to save his family’s cattle from starvation during a drought.

His  adventures along the way include encounters with snakes and thieves, getting  stuck in a disused dairy, and landing in the middle of a court case. He  negotiates these dramas with the help of his trusty cattle dogs and the new  friends he makes along the way. We also follow the story of Gunnie reading the  manuscript with great enthusiasm in the present day.

Gunnie has a problem of his own to solve, and it turns out the solution is contained in the  box his grandfather left him. From the opening pages this is an engaging  book. Tucker has made his characters highly authentic and the story moves along  quickly. Smokey is adventurous and keen to help his family, but he’s also  daunted by the responsibility that has fallen to him because his father has been  injured. In a sad scene Smokey is highly traumatised by the death of one of his  three cattle dogs, Sam.

In the present day, Gunnie can see trouble brewing in  his family but doesn’t know whether it’s his place to get involved. We jump  seamlessly from Gunnie reading the manuscript in the present day back into the story of Smokey in 1910, as links between the two gradually unfold.

Tucker paints a thoroughly Australian story. The dogs, cattle and horses are central,  as are the countryside and the family cattle station, Wiralee. Done  poorly this ends up with everybody eating meat pies while they drive around in Holdens with their Akubras on, but Tucker doesn’t fall for this trap. The Aussie atmosphere is woven into the story. Gunnedah Hero will also provide an education about the times for its intended young adult market.

The only minor problem with the book is the occasionally poor layout which made reading awkward in places, but this is not uncommon in self-published books. The cover of Gunnedah Hero displays a couple of awards the book has won. They are well deserved.

Review by Michael Hanrahan"

Mm ... oddly, three weeks before this review appeared, I had sent one of my manuscripts to Rough Draft for the first time. It was 'KY!' - story of an Australian Muslim refugee girl who is bullied. This manuscript has also won an award in the Australian National Literary Awards.

Who knows? Let's hope Michael Hanrahan is impressed with my storytelling.

The prayer meeting will now begin.