A Conversation with John Tassell
We retired up on the Gold Coast when I was sixty two, and the next year I bought my first computer. I was shown how to use it and started writing. I started with my memoirs, which I called A Lucky Life. My dear friend, Joan Songalia, of the Southern Shorties, edited it for me and she wrote, ‘It made me laugh out loud!’ I’ve had an interesting life, and it flowed onto the paper, for three hundred pages.
2. Who would you say had been the greatest influence on your writing?
It was said by one of my readers that my style reminded him of Len Deighton. I regarded this as a huge complement, having read everything he has written. It is quite likely that he influenced me.
3. Do you think the place where a writer grew up has much to do with their style and genre?
That is hard to say for me. I was born in England in 1929, and came out to Australia in 1947. I was in the Navy and travelled the world, but it wasn’t until 1993 that I started writing, so it’s unlikely in my case.
4. How important to the aspirations of the young writer are parents?
Vital. Sadly I was hopeless at school, but my dear Dad paid for me to go to a better school. However, when I was fourteen, the headmaster rang Dad and said, ‘You’re wasting his time and your money. Get him a job, it’ll bring him out.’ So he got me a job as an errand boy. It was followed by several different jobs, until I joined the Navy. I was trained as a Radio and Radar technician and saw the world. My time was up in 1955 and I left the Navy. When TV started in 1957. There weren’t any TV technicians, so I was sought after. I worked for Stromberg Carlson, and they made me Service Manager! However, they went broke, so I started my own TV Service Company, which I ran successfully for thirty five years!
My dear parents! God bless them, they were such kind loving parents, and so helpful toward my eventual success.
5. If you could have one part of your life back again, which would it be?
It would be the last twenty years of my retirement on the Gold coast. We have been living a life entirely devoted to pleasure.
6. What does the Gold Coast mean to you?
TO ME, it is Paradise.
We live down at the Tweed Heads, southern end of the Gold Coast. Before seven, on any of the lovely mornings, I drive round to the Tweed River. They dredged up a huge mound of sand out of the channel. They didn’t do it for me, the channel had silted up and the fishing trawlers were running aground, but the council’s work has made me a marvellous beach. Thank you Tweed Council. I plunge in and swim vigorously for thirty strokes after that, I flop around in the crystal clear, rushing-in tide water. Some mornings the tide is so strong, I go backwards thirty meters! It is very invigorating, and really pumps up my circulation. By then I need my breakfast, and I cruise round to my lovely wife in our wonderful waterfront home.