Frederick is one of our local writers coming to us from Top Ryde on the north side of Sydney. I found him on a neighbourhood chat group on Facebook and what an incredible find he’s been. Here’s Frederick and his writing journey in his own words.
Where were you born, raised, and call home?
I was born during the bleak post-war era in southern Italy in a tiny village dating back to the 14th century. Perched 340 metres above sea level on the Apennine Mountain Range, it enjoys views of both the Ionian and Mediterranean Seas. And although it may seem idealistic or romantic, it is still primitive. Electricity and indoor plumbing were only connected during the late nineteen fifties and early sixties, and just about everything else remains the same.
Younger people have moved to northern cities for work and a better lifestyle, leaving the town with only around 500 mostly older residents. Many houses are now deserted and locked down.
Even today, it’s not unusual to be awakened by sounds of donkey hooves on cobblestones as their masters lead them to work the farming plots further down the valley or along the river flats.
The War had left Italy devastated both physically and economically. So, when I was nine months old, my father, wanting a better life for his family, accepted an immigration sponsorship from a relative in Sydney. And if all were as promised, he would save some money and send for us. But he and my mother had never expected it would take six long years before reuniting in the new land.
I have revisited my birth town several times, not only to reconnect with my roots but to take in the genuineness and warmth of its people. But my home and heart will always be in Australia. I am a naturalised Australian, and my wife is a born and bred Australian, as are our children and grandchildren.
What made you want to write?
I started writing when, after a demanding desk-jockey career, I semi-retired to the banks of the Hawkesbury River. As you can imagine, time passes slowly down in the tranquil valley. One winter’s day, I was reading a great little yarn, “All Over the Shop”, by Tony Maniaty, a highly regarded Australian author and journalist, about the many experiences of a young Greek migrant boy. It painted many memorable images, and while my brain wandered, I considered the possibility of putting pen to paper myself.
I knew I was no match, but then I recalled a truism about not believing everything you think. So with this in mind, I began making notes about events and experiences—not necessarily as they happened, but more as I recalled them. But I’d prefer to say I used my recollections creatively.
Other than educational assignments and advertising copy for my work, I had never really penned before. Two years later, after taking a swag full of liberties along the way, as authors often write, ‘for dramatic and literal effect’, I finished “Fortunato’s Whim”, a semi-autobiographical book of 150,000 words. I found the writing created an additional dimension to my life, a measurement I still try to abide by.
Can you tell us more about your most recent book, “The Alter Prey”?
Without giving too much away, “The Alter Prey” is a psychological suspense novel about Stuart Ryder, a clinical psychologist who, while performing an age regression on a patient, triggers a separate identity known as Paulo within himself. Soon Stuart notices inexplicable happenings, including weird credit card bills, a different brand of beer in his refrigerator, out-of-character additions to his wardrobe, and pizza deliveries he has no recollection of ordering.
When Stuart is accused of a heinous crime of which he has no memory of, his legal team must prove Paulo’s existence. Except Paulo is determined to play hide and seek within Stuart’s mind.
Can they uncover the truth and exonerate the real Stuart Ryder before it’s too late? Or will the split take over?
Feedback so far has been great.
What was your writing and publishing journey like? How long did it take? Did you struggle finding the right publisher or self-publishing option?
I would have preferred my interest in writing to have started much earlier when I had more time for literary studies. It’s funny how the more you learn, the more you realise how much you don’t know. So, describing my experiences as a learning curve would be a vast understatement. I discovered that finding a literary agent was impossible, so I finally took the self-publishing route. But I soon realised that success is very limited unless you’re prepared to spend a lot of money and time promoting your works.
Who are some of your favourite authors?
Having read hundreds of books, I find it hard to pick a favourite author. So, I will name three books that, for whatever reason, have always stayed in my mind.
First, I read “High Adventure”, by Edmund Hillary, as a young teenager—how Hillary and his co-adventurer Norgay bravely fought Mt Everest’s unforgiving temperament—and won.
“The Dice Man” by Luke Rhinehart is another novel that had a powerful effect on my psyche. It’s a seventies cultish piece about a guy willingly surrendering his life to the roll of the dice. As interesting as it is, I suggest no one takes this book too seriously, or you will quickly end up in a corrections centre or a mental health facility. But I found it funny, and it stimulated my mind—something I always look forward to realising.
“The Power of One”, by South African-Australian novelist Bryce Courtenay, was another publication I’ll never forget. A beautifully written coming-of-age, historical narrative about Peekay, an innocent young boy growing up in South Africa. I could relate to several of Peekay’s humiliations and difficulties. Some parts of the story twisted my insides while the rest left me ecstatic, with extreme approbation in between—undoubtedly the reason I enjoyed it so immensely.
Any other books in the works?
I am about to publish a revised edition of “Finding My Reflections”. A journey that takes you from the jungles of war to the beautiful Italian countryside as you follow five cheeky mates on a wild and humorous ride. They believe they’re invincible, dodging bullets of combat, love, and friendship.
But is their self-assurance short-lived? Are their battle scars too deep for them to find real happiness? What are their chances of fitting back into society, finding jobs, and falling in love? I received great appraisals for the first edition, and I hope this one will be even better.
Having learned much about my writing, I am also in the process of rewriting “Fortunato’s Whim”. After that, it’s up to my whimsical imagination.
Thank you Frederick. Keep writing!