Friday, May 4, 2012

An Interview With Hugh Lunn

Hugh Lunn is one of the great Aussie authors who have made a mark in our history as a brilliant and funny story-teller.  He has traveled the world throughout his life and met many wonderful people in his long and interesting life.  I have been fortunate enough to interview him via an e-mail today when I took a chance and contacted him with a few questions; and tonight, I found this wonderful reply in my in-box.  None of the below has been changed or edited.

1.  How did you become interested in writing in general?  Was is a natural curiosity or something that came later in life?

I became a cadet reporter in 1960 on the Courier-Mail and had to learn to type to write little stories. In Hong Kong aged 23 I got a job writing for magazines and wrote columns etc. Eventually wrote longer and longer stories in London and eventually sold my Brisbane house and moved to fulltime books on Jan 1 1988 to write a book on my childhood. Three publishers told me not to because ‘there is no market for Aust childhood autobiography! That book “Over the Top with Jim’ is still in print 24 years later with ABCBooks. And it has never been out of print.

2.  How many countries have you traveled to in your life as a writer? 
Lots. In 1965 I got into “Red China” when you couldn’t get in. Wrote a book about it decades later called “Spies Like Us”, which has had 3 different publishers in Australia in the 17 years since and is still in print with ABCBooks. I was a Reuters correspondent in Vietnam for more than a year; Singapore for a year; Indonesia for a year. Lived in Hong Kong for seven months. London for 3 years. Stayed in Norway and travelled thro Russia and Poland and Germany and visited Paris often and Nice and Monte Carlo. Been to Cambodia and Tashkent and Thailand and Malaysia and West Papua and P-NG …. All as a young man.
3.  As an author, have you ever put yourself into your novels or your articles? 
I used to get criticized a lot by my colleagues for putting myself in my newspaper articles in the 70s and 80s (now they all do it). But I found everything in life needs some of your own philosophy in it – so even when writing about my childhood the adult was having his say (13 times by my count, tho no one seems to notice). Even in “Spies” I managed to twice campaign about the knocking down of old Queensland homes in Brisbane.

4.  Have you got a favourite author you read and have followed the career of?  Do you have a collection of their books? 
I have complete collection of Eric Blair and all the biographies written on him. I love his clear clean way of writing and try to emulate him. I couldn’t write my first book “Vietnam: a reporter’s war” properly until I read his “Homage to Catalona”.

5.  Do you collect books as a hobby?  If so, how many - approximately - do you have and what genres do they cover? 
No I don’t, but I have hundreds of books. I like true stories.

6.  How long does it normally take to get one of your books published?   
My Vietnam book took 17 years because I was an unknown nook writer: from 1968-1985. Now it takes about two years. I have had 15 published.

7.  Which one of your books have you written is your favourite?  Or do they all hold a special place in your heart? 
People write to tell me which is their favourite , or which character is their favourite. Mine is “The Great Fletch” because I always wanted to capture the amazing life of my best friend, an only child I’d known since we were babies together at Annerley and travelled the world with... And when he died, I did so, and it’s just been re-printed! On the last two pages of the book I called for this Brisbane boy to be included in the Hall of fame at Melbourne Park – and two years later on Rod Laver Arena Ken Fletcher was Indducted into the Melbourne Park Hall of fame with his on and daughter unveiling a bronze bust of him on a pillar while Federer and Nadal and Laver and Emerson and Rosewall etc watched. My wife and I were invited down to the ceremony and I was asked to speak about Fletch at the President’s dinner beforehand.
Now some fun questions:

1.  What's your favourite colour? green

2.  Where you do love to holiday?  Or do you love to stay in Queensland and Australia? 
Don’t seem to get any holidays. I love Kingscliff.

3.   What's your favourite food from which country? 
A Salad Tomate in Paris. A mango juice in Djakarta. A good meat pie in Brisbane.

4.  What is your favourite past-time when you were a child?  Do you see any children doing it now? 
Climbing trees. No. 

So, there you have it!  A fun interview with a great man.  I have met Hugh a few times at some of his book launches and talks throughout Logan Libraries and he's very funny and attracts all types of people from all walks of life and generations.  His work is well worth a read.  I have three of his books in my collection which I'm going to read this year and I will review as well.  Until my next post, happy reading!


  1. First off, I've never even heard of Hugh Lunn before, but now I want to find and read one of his books. I'm particularly interested in reading "The Great Fletch" after reading Mr. Lunn's answer to your question regarding which book he wrote is his favorite.

    Great interview, Mozette! I loved the serious questions and answers and the fun questions and answers in this post! That's neat that Hugh Lunn replied to your email.

    I recently had an author by the name of Jess Lourey, stumble across the review I wrote of her cozy mystery novel, May Day, on my blog. She commented that she liked my review of her book!! That's pretty cool!

    1. I'm so happy to have introduced you to a great new author to read. Hugh has been a wonderful Aussie author of ours for a long time; and he's a lovely man to talk to as well.

      I do own a few of his books and look forward to reading and reviewing them in future posts.

  2. Hugh Lunn has had some amazing adventures over the years and written about them with flair and personality. "Over the Top with Jim" is a true classic, full of colourful characters and a Brisbane long past.

    He wrote a biography of Sir Joh which was delightful, as opposed to the horrible official book, and when he ran into difficulties Lady Flo would help him out and feed him pumpkin scones.

    Mozette, thanks for doing that interview and publishing it. What a sweetie he is in his responses.

    1. Hey, you're welcome. I didn't know he had written a book about Sir Joh. Must look around for that one, I'm sure it will be a better read than that other one that's floating around about him.

      And he was wonderful for taking time out to answer the questions I asked.

  3. What a great interview with Hugh, Mozette.
    I remember attending " A Night With Hugh Lunn" at the Logan Central Library one night last year. I bought 4 of his books that night & he was giving one away that did not do so well. We could have listened to him speak for hours. He made us laugh & cry. If you get the opportunity to see him, make sure you go.

    1. I once went to a writing and publishing event at one of the libraries here in Logan and Hugh was there. The group got to hear him talk for about 10 minutes and then we were asked to go back into the room, but I stuck around and chatted with him for about half an hour and missed out on the rest of my session - oh well, it was a free session after all. :P

      But it was well worth it to hang about and chat with him. :D