The IndieMosh Interviews

#1 Jeff Hopkins

July 23, 2021 Jeff Hopkins Episode 1
The IndieMosh Interviews
#1 Jeff Hopkins
Show Notes Transcript

In this interview, Jenny Mosher talks with Jeff Hopkins, author of fiction, fact, faction and fantasy to learn about Jeff’s creative journey and where he gets his ideas from.

If you’d like to learn more about Jeff or check out some of his books, then visit or search for his books at your favourite online retailer.

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I'm Jenny Mosher and today I'm talking with Jeff Hopkins, author of fiction, fact, faction and fantasy. Join me as we learn about Jeff’s creative journey and where he gets his ideas from. 

 G'day Jeff, thanks for joining me. Lovely to meet you. 

 Well it's no problem. 

 And we're up to, you've done 15 books with us over the last six or seven years or so, 15 books is an awful lot in anyone's category and you've still got more to come and we're still… 

 I sent an email to Astrid this morning with all the corrections for Creatively. There were only 10 or so which is excellent, which is excellent for a first draft. 

 Yeah that's awesome.

 So yes we're on our way for the 16th book.

 Wow so you haven't been retired that long - where on earth did you get time to write 16 books and 17 I think, isn't it, you've got one more still to come after this. 

 Two more next year.

 Two more?

 Yeah - one in the first half, one in the second half of next year. Whether I retired in 2006 at age 56 and I’ve been retired 15 years and I didn't start writing the books until 2015 and that's when you published Artifice for the first time in 2015 in May, so we've really only been self-publishing with IndieMosh for six years.

 Six years yeah, yeah wow.

 But there have been a lot of them on the desktop as manuscripts that just got rewritten and rewritten and finally joined the queue and it has been a funny queue because things have been promoted and things have been dismissed and switched around but we've got the last three in order now. Creatively will come out probably later this month, Surviving the Silence first half of next year and the genealogy study which is called Life's Race Well Run, which I actually wrote in 1992, so it's a 30 years gestation. 

 30 years – wow.

 But it had to be rewritten because there's so much new information and it will be a sort of a completing the circle and a full stop, maybe, maybe.

 Yeah I mean is it, is it like a bit of a drug, the writing. Like you do it - when you when you finish one does that make room in your head for more to come in. 

 I describe it as an addiction but a very good addiction and I’m sure it comes from writing the 11 original musicals from the 1980s when, as soon as I finished one, usually they were produced and presented at school in the May or the June, I would start writing the next one straight away to give time for the composers to compose the score so that we could be in rehearsal in February for the next May or June - so that's what's happening with the books. 


 And so many of the books are spawned by ideas in one that lead to a book in the next one. I’ll give you an example, in Signs, the sequel to Handsome Jack, the racing story the little indigenous boy reads the story of Alaric Pinder Boor, whose name is given to the boarding house that he's staying at at Aquinas College and of course, when I read that biography I thought, my hat, this is some guy and so I researched him. I do a lot of research. I researched him just to find out who he really was and when I found the true story, I just thought, wow this is a book, here we go and I wrote it and that sort of sparked off the faction stuff, you know the fiction based on fact and that's my new um preferred genre. I love writing fiction based on fact because you can you can dress it up with real information from a real world and then just put in those little conversations in fiction that you know expand on the character.

It's sort of like entertainment with education, isn't it? 

I’m sure it's like that, I’m sure it's like that.


But it's a great genre to work in. The best genres to work in and, most of your authors at IndieMosh will know this, is fantasy because you create the world, you create the rules, you create the characters and you can do what you like with them. You can kill them off or you can, you can make them heroes or villains or whatever you like and of course that was the motivation for writing the three books in the Gnarl series, Gnarl, Lord Gnarl and Caliphs & Kings - just beautiful, easy writing.

I wanted to ask you about that – like, I mean I read The Spiv, that was one of your early ones, and a lot of your other books sort of have that same quintessential Australian story, you know like Handsome Jack, things like that. So, there's that sort of writing and then you do Gnarl which is just so different to me, to everything.

Well Gnarl came before them.

Oh okay.

Yeah, Artifice was first - that's the schoolboy story about the art teacher. Then came Gnarl. Now Gnarl was almost straight after Artifice.

Oh, okay.

And Lord Gnarl came almost immediately afterwards but it was delayed five years because it just sat on the desktop and when I finally got around to writing the third book in the trilogy, I thought this second book is no good because I’ve done things in the third book which are much richer and much more interesting so I went back and rewrote the second one and promoted characters from the third one into the second one to give it a nicer connection and I’m sure it's a better trilogy as a result of that. So the Gnarl trilogy was written over five years although the first one came out very early.

So it was almost written at either end of the five years.

That's correct, that's how it was done. You know so you… When I finish something I always put it on the desktop and leave it for about three months or sometimes a year before I even contemplate sending it to you because when you get back to it and start re-editing, you think, no, that isn't good enough. This has to be rewritten and reworked. And I think that's a message that all your authors will understand - that you don't whack a manuscript down and publish it just like that it takes a lot of reworking.

Yeah, Stephen King says that in On Writing. He says you finish, he says you type the end and he said then you put it away and you go and do something else.

That's correct. 

He said start the next one then come back to it. 

That's the way I do it, yeah. You were saying that all my stories were Australian and, of course, they are.

Most, yeah. 

And a lot of them are autobiographical although I’m disguised. You know in The Spiv, I’m a sports commentator called Lumpy. In Impressment, which is set in the first years of the 17th century, you know, 1601, in the Blackfriars Theatre, I’m actually playing one of the managers of the theatre because the lessons that I conduct with the impressed boys on the stage are just lessons I did while I was a drama master at Hale School. Hailston??? 


So I’m actually playing the role in those but when we got to Rocking Horse Rider - do you remember that?

Yes, yes.

That's when I changed direction and I thought well, none of these books are selling very well in America or England or Germany or wherever. What about I write something international. So I wrote Rocking Horse Rider and started it off in London, took it to Paris, wrote some sections of it in French - if you remember. 

That's right.

And then got it back to Australia and, of course. Once I’d done that and it sold a few copies, I thought - this needs a prequel and, I’d never written a prequel before, so I took it back nearly 100 years and told the story of how the people who were in Rocking Horse Rider or who their ancestors were and how Summer Haven Park was built and The Hydrographer - do you remember we put it on free release in Smashwords, you probably don't because you deal with so many hundreds of books but we put up The Hydrographer on free release on Smashwords - absolutely took off. They downloaded 437 copies of it.


And then we put it back at $2.99 and it stopped. They were prepared to read at nothing but they wouldn't read it $2.99. So those two books - I call them experimental because they were trying to be international stories.


And, of course, once they were done, I came back to the Australian stories of Handsome Jack and Signs etc. 

Yeah - is that what you enjoy writing - the Australian or…

It’s easier.

Or do you like fantasy?

I know the Australian stories, you see Handsome Jack is… my father was a bookmaker for 30 years and


And he told me, and I used to go to the races with him, I even clerked for him towards the end of his career, you know, and he told me some of those hair-raising stories from the 1930s when drugs were rife and the fix was in and all these horrible things were happening in horse racing, and I just collected them all up in my head and when I started writing Handsome Jack I gave all those racing scams, as I called them, to Ray Ratcliffe, the trainer, who was a very naughty boy and became quite an evil character and, by the end of it, I thought Jeff, what have you done. You've created a monster. So I had to write Signs to give him a chance to come back from perdition to redemption and he comes out as a really good character in the second book, and the way he deals with that indigenous boy in that book, to give him so many opportunities in life, I really liked. But then again, you know, I’m writing for me. I’ve got to enjoy the book. If I can't enjoy it, I throw it away.

Yeah, I think you have to, to a point because if you don't enjoy it, if you do it to a formula, if you do it, um, if you thin it out to try and pitch it - I mean sure, you've got to know who your market is but if you write what you think people are expecting to read, it becomes thin. It doesn't have the, it doesn't have the feeling, it doesn't have the yeah.

Yeah, well when I set out, my original plan was to write in as many different genres as I could so, you know, there is, there are novels that are based on personal experiences. There's three books of fantasy, there's three books in the faction, uh, series and then, of course, there's some, the memoir which is coming out this month which sort of tells all the back stories to how the plays were written in the 80s and how the books were written, you know after I retired.

So you were, you were writing plays in the 80s?


Musicals, yeah -what was the first thing you ever wrote and when was that?

The very first thing I ever wrote?


Yeah - oh you'd have to go back to 1959. I’m in grade five and I write a play called Kindness Pays and our teacher allows me to produce it in the front of the class with other kids and he even writes on the bottom of my mid-year report, he puts in a category ‘writing plays’ - Jeff devotes his time to writing plays. So that was sort of 1959. In the 60s, I was doing a lot of performing on stage in various theatre groups and at school but I was also writing film scripts because I’d started making films and they were lame and amateur sort of things but they were scripts for movies.


And once I got to my first teaching appointment in 1972 at Northam Senior High School, I started writing serious film scripts.


And I wrote a thing in 1972 called Traces which was about a boy having trouble in a boarding house who eventually suicided. It was very difficult subject for that time yeah dark. Entered it in the Channel Seven Young Filmmakers Competition and won.

Really? Wow.

Yeah - we got a whole heap of filmmaking equipment for the high school and then we're away and so we made another one at the end of that year called The Cadets which was based on, um…

Do you still have copies of these?

Oh yeah, they're all on DVD now.

Oh good, good - you don't want to lose that.

No. I had them copied from Super 8 to DVD a few years ago. Some of them stand up pretty well.


In 73, I made two movies - one was called Suzanne and, here's a recurring theme that's going to come up a lot - based on songs by Neil Diamond. An unrequited love story where the two young actors catch the ferry to Rottnest and have an idyllic day together but at the end, we get the twist because he's sitting in the rain on a bus stop and she's across the road under her umbrella and they've never actually met. 

Oh right.

That was entered in the Young Filmmakers Competition and we won again two years in a row - thank you very much.

Well done – congratulations.

So that was filmmaking at Northam and that was scripting and then I was producing plays at the same time as Northam because they wanted me to do that sort of thing.


Then I went to the Geelong college in Geelong in Victoria and I was writing musicals for the boys in the first year because it was an all-boys school and then the boys and girls in the second year because they went co-ed so I wrote a thing called Home for Urchin Boys in 1974 and in 75, I wrote a musical called Jonathan based on Richard Bach's novel Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

Oh yeah, yep.

Where we didn't have seagulls, we had boys and girls and that was performed around the swimming pool at um, at the John College Preparatory School and later in the year, I did another thing called Billy Budd based on the Herman Melville short story. Benjamin Britten had written an opera but it was unsuitable for kids of that age so I wrote this story and I put in traditional songs and music to make the musical and that's the way we did it. Then we went down to Point Addis which is like Bells Beach in Victoria and made a film of the Jonathan story using the cliffs of the beach and the surf and that worked out really well. Then I went to Toowoomba Grammar in 1977 and produced a play there and then I came back to Perth after four years being in the eastern states and went to Guildford Grammar School which - Guildford just dominates my writing, you know - there are two books, um, Reflections is based at Guildford and so is the Gavin John's Story when Guilford is evacuated to Fairbridge Farm School.


Then I got head hunted to Hale School as their Drama Master and that began the 11 original musicals.

Right, wow.

We started with The Roundhouse which just had traditional music. Then we did seven Neil Diamond songs in a thing called Brother Loves Travelling Salvation Show which is a real hoot.

Yeah, that would have been great fun.

People who loved Neil Diamond loved that show. Then in 1984, I said to the musical director, Bernard Harvey, what about we write an original musical - original lyrics, original music, the full works and he said look, I’ll sound out Billy Stewart - who was in the West Australian Symphony Orchestra - he likes composing. We'll see if we can get him to come on board. Well, it doubled the budget because Bill had to be paid.


But we decided and, this was interesting. We decided very early to write the lyrics first and make the lyrics carry part of the story in the musical. Now that was tricky. So I was given the task of writing all the lyrics first and then I gave them to Bill Stewart. I’ll tell you a funny story. Went to lunch together and we're sitting at lunch and I said I think I’ve got the first song, it’s the title song, Reflections. And Bill said yes, what are the words? So he picks up a pen and writes on the back of a paper napkin the words of Reflections that I’ve written and then he turns around to the upright piano which was in the dining room of the house we're having lunch at and he plays a few chords and then he sings the song exactly how it turned out in the musical six months later and he turns to me and says well that's the first one, when do I get the rest? And that's how it went on for 11 years.


And, um, Bill did other things at various stages and so couldn't compose the musical so we had Jeff Carroll do two and then Raymond Long, who happened to be the musical director for Shirley Bassey, composed the music for a thing called Fleance Fliance towards the end of the whole thing.


And only last week, after 30 years, I managed to track down Bill Stewart - never saw him after the musicals - he's in Ballarat and he's retired and he's done teaching and music teaching and we had a wonderful telephone conversation. You know when you meet somebody after 30 years, memories just are like yesterday. 

Yeah, yeah. 

I’m doing a lot of talking Jenny. I need you to ask me some more questions.

That's the idea, Jeff. So I’m just stunned you've just had this life full of stuff that you've been bringing out in one way or another - one creative way or another, um, whether it's a book or a musical. So I’m curious with the filmmaking - do you see any of your books as films? Could you see them as films? Have you not been tempted to write…

My friends say that the books are very visual and I think that comes from filmmaking, scripting films, because you're always looking from the point of view of the camera and you want to see what's happening from the point of view of the camera and you just naturally write in the same way in the books and so you know a thing like The Spiv, which is a wonderful story about a man who had wonderful experiences, would make a great film and I think Handsome Jack would make a fantastic film as well - with all the racing and the colour that you could bring to the story – exactly. So yeah, to answer your question - yeah it has been said to me you know, you write visually, Jeff. They read like you're seeing it. 


And I am. 


Of course writing the books is much, much easier than making a film or directing a musical. You need no sets, you need no cast, it costs nothing except for the publication later but you know you're in total control and you don't sometimes when you're writing a musical, you think, oh I can't include that, it'd just be too hard to stage or is there an actor in the school who could possibly play this part?

Yeah I suppose so yeah, if you want someone who's a certain physicality or something - in a book that doesn't matter, you can yeah.

Well it happened… 

You can be two and a half meters tall…

well it happened twice in 1985 and 1987. In 1985, one of the boys who was playing a sealer in a Seal Island Band - his name, the character's name was Tom Elder. We'd done two nights of the run - last night, Saturday night, I’m home having an afternoon nap getting ready for the evening, telephone rings, Andrew Chitty, playing Tom Elder, has broken his leg. He's in hospital.


Playing hockey in Saturday morning sport. He's in hospital having it put in a plaster cast. Phone goes dead. Jeff is dumbfounded and then I said calmly to the person who rang, I think it was the musical director who rang me, I said calmly to him – look, no problems Bernard, um, I’ll play Tom Elder tonight. He said are you sure? I said yes and when I put the phone down I thought what in heaven's name have you done. So I immediately drove to Hale School and got the other lead actor who did scenes with Tom Elder and we worked for about an hour and a half on the stage going through moves - he was a very clever boy - and then I went upstairs trying to learn the rest of the script which I had written and couldn't remember a single word but I tried. 

I suppose you write it too and…

You just let it go. 

And it’s gone, you've got to let it go, yeah. 

So anyhow, um, show time came round. Bernard went out through the curtains. Announced that I was playing Tom Elder in tonight's performance which I didn't think was really necessary. I carried a small bottle of brandy around in my costume pocket and swigged it throughout and we got through and I was so enchanted by the experience that, in 1987, I wrote a part for myself in a thing called Googooewon, the Place of Trees.

Sorry, what was the first word?

Googooewon - it's an Aboriginal word that means the place of trees. His name was Cartland Couture and he was a fashion designer supreme and I wrote a song for him and I made the costume which was absolutely outrageous, sort of a jumpsuit in cerise with matching hat and shoes.

Sounds like my kind of clothing. 

He appeared in one scene where he had to dress two members of the board of Alchemy International in drag so that they could pull off a con trick with the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and it was just 10 minutes of absolute joy. I’ve never done anything since. I’ve never been on the stage again ever since Cartland Couture. In fact I introduced the Cartland Couture Award at the same time and I believe it is still the award given to the best actor in the school musical and they don't know who Cartland Couture is because he never appeared. Whenever the award was presented, I had to present it on his behalf saying, okay, so in the first year it was a joke, in the second year, kids looked and thought who is this guy. Anyhow that, that's the performance, Tom Elder for a kid who broke his leg and Cartland Couture because I was ego tripping, Jenny, I was ego tripping.

Well, we've got to have a little bit some time in our lives. 

Just 10 minutes. 

Have you ever thought about writing the Cartland Couture story?

The true story of Cartland Couture or the imagined story of Cartland Couture?

Or the imagined story?

Well if you've things seen things on Netflix like Halston or Gianni Versace - the Gianni Versace store, fashion designers are absolutely fabulous people but it’d have to be a comedy piece. 


It would have to be a nutty comedy piece about a con man. 


The story would be something like a con man from humble beginnings stumbles into a fashion boutique and impersonates somebody and pulls it off with a couple of great designs and then you'd take it from there. That's how a story like that would develop I think.

Ah, okay.

No plans, Jenny.

That was, that was interesting - you just you just came out with that then like that's how it would happen?

That's how it happens.


In Artifice, I was, I was writing my own story because I was in Canberra teaching with the Commonwealth Teaching Service and I went down to Thredbo and I read in the newspaper two ads for positions in Albury and Geelong and I wrote applications for them and I went to Albury, did an interview, didn't like it but I accepted the job in Geelong, which was fabulous, I stayed there for four three years but, uh, that is the story I gave to Fiona Beaumont the art teacher in Artifice. 


So hers, the first chapter of her experience coming back to Sydney having had a failed affair in Paris and then going to Thredbo Thredmine reading the newspapers and applying for the job in Geelong. That's my story and that's how I was telling you how a lot of things in my books are autobiographical, disguised in other people. 


So you know that's how it happens.


It's all ego tripping, Jenny.


Vanity publishing as you call it.

No, no, not vanity, no, no, never call it vanity. 

Which leads to legacy publishing. 


The latest thing.


I really believe that people's stories have to be written and published or they're lost.

Yes, they are.

Look at that magnificent musical director I had at Hale for 11 years who did the musical direction for all those plays and was just, in his way, a genius.


He died at 44 two years after the musicals ended. Now 1994, 16 - it's more than 27 years, yeah 27 years. Nobody would know his story. No one would know that he gathered up all those musical instruments at Hale School and made them work again. He valued the collection of instruments that he was giving to the kids at a million dollars. Nobody knew it. So I’ve written it, in Creatively, I’ve given him you know two or three chapters in Creatively about his story. He lives.


And that's what I call legacy publishing, I think and I would encourage - - you know I sometimes see on your IndieMosh feed, stories from people who are reporting on their life in the rag trade or their life in a particular occupation or the journey they made around Australia as grey nomads. That is legacy publishing. That is leaving something behind for the people who someday in the future might want to know what x and y and z did in their life and you've left them something to start with. 

Exactly. I, I believe in those stories on the grounds that, that this, we're in great times where ordinary people like us can do that, we can leave that historical record. I mean we…

And you can come out you know beautifully published book.

That's it.

And we lodge it at the National Library. So there's a copy there forever and it's the people's voice - it's not the official record - it's the people's voice so for future researchers I think it provides a lot more colour and detail and probably truth than the official records might.

And it doesn't matter a freak that it never sells a copy. 


Because you take your 10 complimentary copies or, now my birthday book list has grown to about 20, so I have to buy 10 extra as well as the 10 complimentary.

Stop making friends Jeff.

And you send them out to people and you know, you get a lovely phone call or you get a nice card that says thank you very much for that story - blah blah blah - and you think all worthwhile, all worthwhile, legacy publishing yeah. 

Good on you. I like that term. 

Put it in your next book.

I’ll have to, I'll have to you have to coin that phrase. Yeah, legacy publishing, yeah courtesy copyright, Jeff Hopkins.

No, no, no, it's free.

It’s free.

It's like the books I send to people, they're all free. Some of them try to shove $50 notes into their hand and say they must pay for it I said no. Oh well, it's, it's the gift.


And I tell you what the biggest gift of all is…


When you get an email from Smashwords to say that somebody you've never heard of has downloaded your book, or 20 people have, or you get a notification from you with IndieMosh to say that somebody in Germany bought Handsome Jack and you wonder, my hat, what is a German thinking about this and they're the thrills. They are the absolute thrills, you know. Um, Professor Geoffrey Blainey, who's written a lot of books on history in Australia, Tyranny Of Distance, has recently come out with a memoir and he said if you sell six books you're a success. So that's good isn't it.

Really, wow, six. 

Six and, of course, Tyranny Of Distance sold millions of copies but.


That was his view that six was enough. You touched enough people.

I suppose so, um, yeah you touched six lives and yeah. 

And in some cases, you know somebody who's read it, passes it on to their friend who gives it to their dentist who gives it to their dentist’s wife and suddenly you get a phone call saying can we have a copy of this book because we want to give it to x for a birthday present and we'll be paying for it.


And so on and so forth.

Some people have a thing about people lending books - they say it's not right, they should buy one but lending is free marketing because somewhere along that line if the book is any good people aren't going to keep lending it, they're going to buy it as a gift for somebody or they’re going to say to someone you've got to get a copy of this book.


Yeah, lending is yeah, I don't have a problem with it.

And that may happen over a long period of time. Now I’m in my sixth year of publishing and I think the record shows we're about to hit our 400th sale. That doesn't matter to me because I would have, I would have given away another 200 to people who've read the stuff and you know, what it is about a writer if a writer is not read they're not a writer. 


If you can't get somebody to read the material, you're not a writer.

That's right and it doesn't have to necessarily be millions, it's got to be people that, yeah, are happy to read it, um, yes I think I’d rather have a lesser number of people who are really interested than having millions of people buy it and not really care.  


It's, um, yeah a smaller number that value it is probably better isn't it?

I’ve just sent Astrid an email and at the bottom I’ve given a quote from The Charles Dickens Museum in England - it's called quote of the month and it comes from Oliver Twist and Dickens says oh, no, we're not going to make a writer of you now while there's still a good trade to be learned. I thought that was very funny.

That's gorgeous.

That's Charles Dickens. I like Charles Dickens.

Look he was good, he was good.

Only lived to be 58. 

Did he really?


Mind you, when was that 1700s?

No, no, no 18, um, 1870 he died at 58.

Yeah, not too bad, not too bad for that, that period of time, um.

Scrammed Crammed a lot of stuff into his life, I might tell you, including a 20-year affair with his mistress. 

Did he?

He had 11 children with his wife and then…d

Yeah, she was probably glad for the mistress after they’d had 11 children. 

And then, simultaneously he had three children with this mistress. It's a wonderful story, it's been made into a film called The Other Woman and it would never have been discovered except they were coming back from France where they had their love nest.


And they were on the Stockton Railway and it crashed and they were rescued from the crash and there he was injured in the arms of his mistress, a lovely Charles Dickens story.

Wow, gee so 14 children?

14 children all up yeah with his wife.

Gee I wonder where their descendants are today?

They're everywhere I would imagine.

Yeah, wow, wouldn't that be a buzz. With modern like DNA testing and everything to be able to say I’m a descendant of Charles Dickens., - they would all fill in the details for you. 

They would. They probably would.

I use those tremendous, I know you're interested in genealogy as well, I use those a lot particularly in the faction books where you're trying to write a genuine genealogy for a factual character.


But occasionally I’m really really naughty and I write a fictional genealogy for a person who never really existed and we had great fun with that in Alaric Pinder Boor where, do you remember the painting on the back of the ballet dancer or the gymnast? 

Yes, yes.

Right. I, the bloke at What a Portrait what’s a portrait who painted that signed it ‘KG’ and I was going to say to Ally, take that off, get rid of that KG. We don't want that and then I thought ah, no we're not going to do that. We're going to invent KG. 

Oh, okay.

So I invented this character called Kieran Guilfoyle who was a peer at CBC with Alaric Pinder Boor and painted the picture as part of an arts day project and do you know, people questioned me about it. They looked up, they tried to find, here in Guilford, we can't find him anywhere in the historical record, Jeff and I said oh, can't you? Oh well, these things happen. 

My research is better than yours.

It's naughty writing because you're having a bit of fun.

But its faction.

It’s faction. Absolutely.

Yeah, right so we're looking at publishing creatively now, we're working on that and you're working on that with Astrid now.

Yes. And Ally is doing the pictures. 


I haven't seen anything from Ally yet but she's got a choice between photographics and paintings.

And the paintings, that's right.

Both the same so we should see something in the near future and you know I think that'll be out by the end of July because I did the corrections over the weekend.

Yeah, you're right yeah.

There were only ten.

Yeah, that’s great.

Ten corrections in a hundred thousand words, that's pretty good really.

That is pretty good. 

Mind you I do ten drafts now, that's a rule. You must do ten drafts of the manuscript before you send it to IndieMosh that’s because every draft you're doing is like a correction session.


To IndieMosh isn't it and if you can get all the corrections right


Before you send it then you limit the number of corrections that have to be made in the - what do you call it?

The internals.

Yeah, the internals.

And the other thing is too you, you really want to be happy with what you're sending before you send it off.

Absolutely, otherwise you look a dope.

Well yeah, um, and especially the big stuff - like if you haven't got your storyline right, if you haven't got your characters developed properly, you know we don't want to be laying out a manuscript and then having to be making major changes, you know, a typo here - you know even if you've had had it structurally edited, copy edited and proofread, there are still going to be things that get missed. It happens even in, you know, traditional publishing. 

And occasionally you get an incident like I had last week with Bill Stewart. He gave me a little bit of extra information about Peter Taplan who I was writing about in Creatively and I was able to send that to Astrid to say can you just put this extra sentence in at this point as an insertion so you know that wasn't a correction that was an insertion that came from later information and occasionally that happens. More often than not, the information comes through after the book is published.


And you think - oh gee, that's rotten it happens. 

Mind you, in this day and age with the way this sort of publishing is done, if it's, if it's really important, those files can be updated.


So that is, that is another thought. I mean, yes it's expensive because it's you.

Redoing the book again.

But if it was that important, it can be done, you know.

Well in the particular case I’m thinking of where I lost a sister, four sisters existed and I only had three and the last sister turned up after the book had been published. I was really you know grit your teeth, grind them angry and I thought no, let it go. we're moving on, we've got other things to do.

Yeah, yeah you have to it's um, yeah it's knowing, knowing what to hold and what to… 

Knowing when to fold them ,don't mean to hold them no, knowing when to walk away.

Yep exactly, good on you Kenny.

Kenny Rogers.

Yep that's right yep yeah. All right Jeff, well I think, wow, that's, you have done so much, um, do you think you'll keep writing after the next two books are done? Like do you think once that's all out.

Who would know? 

Who would know, yeah.

Um, it's interesting I, I mean I’m really, really fighting hard with the research for the revised edition of Life's Race Well Run, I’m, you know I’m discovering so much about ancestors that I never ever knew before and I’m moving into that area where you start writing little stories based on the information that's there.


So it's going to be a labour of love for the next, oh it'll be 12 months because it won't be, it'll be this time next year that I’ll send it to you.


And then who knows what comes out of that. I mean you just said to me a few minutes ago why not write the story of Cartland Couture. Well, I mean I might chew that over for a while and who knows but um, there are some things in my writing file, which is on the right hand side of the desk where I chuck rubbish, there's a half finished novel called John Gavin's Days, which is a historical, accurately novel about the first boy ever hung in Western Australia in 1843. I reversed that to create Gavin John's and I told exactly the same story 100 years on in the Gavin John's Story so I could go back to that and finish that now that I’ve got much more resources to depend upon.


And I’ve got a couple of other little things floating around - you know that, that are chapters or half chapters or things that I’ve just thought oh God Jeff, this isn’t going anywhere, get rid of it and you might go back there and revisit them but who knows. I mean there's a lot of stuff still to be done - there are rocking horses to be built. 

Rocking horses to rock.

Well I’ve just, um, bought all the machinery to build a rocking horse.

Have you?

Yeah, I imported the plans from England and I bought all the machinery, band saws and mitre saws, and I’ve converted one half of my garage now that I don't have to have two cars in the garage and I’ve set it all up there and it's only a matter of me, I’ve even got the timber, it's only a matter of me making the first cut and I’ll be away on a rocking horse adventure.

Oh, good for you.

I love rocking horses - as you can see…

Rocking Horse Rider indeed.


Oh good on you, you're just so…

Mad, I think mad is the word.

No, no, no, you're creative, you make things but what you said about having manuscripts that you, stories that you start and then you just don't go on with them - I think every artist has that - they have canvases that they start and they put them aside because they're not going where they want them to and they don't know how to make them do what they want them to.


So I think I think every artist has something, some projects they abandon and they stay abandoned forever and for good reason and then sometimes, in 10 years time, they go back and they pull it out and they think ah, now I know what to do with this or I get rid of that bit and we take it this way so you know that stuff.

Do you remember the massive, do you remember the massive headmaster thing that you did for me that had to be published in 10 by…

Oh, yeah…

Seven because it was so big yeah, well that took a year to write research and write.

Is that all?

There are there are four other headmasters at Hale School who followed him, I mean that could be a, I’m not suggesting I’m going to do it, that could be a series you know of, because you could do all 20th century headmasters and what they did and how the school changed and developed, be boring as anything for anybody other than Hale School people.

Yeah and their descendants.

But there's a possibility that I’ve thought about and you know I have no real intention of doing but you know it's, it's there.

And I think too, you would need to be passionate about those other four headmasters.

Which I’m not because none of them except one, the last one in the 20th century who was my headmaster who, you know he so encouraged me with the plays.


He virtually financed them.


And you know he even created a drama department for me and gave me a drama department budget after three or four of them and you know he was just fantastic but he wrote his own book on his own headmastership called Young Hearts Run Free.


So you, you wouldn't revisit that again but yeah, you know it's interesting and none of them had the the insights or the power and the intelligence and the, you know it takes a lot of courage and fight to do what Frederick Charles Faulkner did.


He was a great man and he deserved a great story and again how many people would have known his story before that came out.

Yeah, yeah, not many ,not me, no that's for sure no, no. Well Jeff, look thank you for your time today.

And thank you very much for allowing me to have this opportunity.

You've been listening to an IndieMosh interview with Jeff Hopkins. If you'd like to learn more about Jeff or check out some of his books then visit or search for his books at your favourite online retailer. I’m Jenny Mosher, thanks for listening.