LIAN TANNER

The book that found its way home

November 3rd, 2019

When people ask me how I got started writing for children, I usually talk about the time roughly 20 years ago when I was writing a whole lot of different things – radio plays, stage plays, short stories for adults, short stories for children and freelance journalism. And I explain that it was the children’s stories that I enjoyed most and had the most success with, so that’s what I ended up focusing on.

But I was reminded the other day that it actually started before then.

Thirty-two years ago, when I was sharing a house in South Hobart with a friend, I wrote a couple of books for her little boy Ben. That’s really what got me started writing for children, so although the books weren’t much good, and I never tried to get them published, they’re an important part of my history. And they were written and illustrated with great love and care.

Woman in armchair with steam coming out of her ears.

Ben, who is now 37, still has one of the books, The Great Muesli Bar Mystery.

Cat with eyepatch

He thought he had the other one, too, but when he looked he couldn’t find it. (That one was called The Great Skateboard Mystery – as you can see, I wasn’t very good at titles in those days.)

So last Monday I was visiting the maternity ward at Hobart Private Hospital to see Ben, his partner and their brand-new daughter, Isobel, when Ben’s father arrived. He had been browsing at the Hobart tip shop … and found the second book! The skateboard one!

We assume it must have got thrown out during a house move at some stage without anyone noticing. And there it was, for all those years, waiting to be found and taken back home. Amazing. And so lovely to see it again.

Map

P.S. Isobel is gorgeous.

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