About Lynette Finch
Once I was a poster designer and illustrator. I ran a small poster business called Mantis Prints, specializing in political posters during the odd days of the Bjelke-Petersen Government in Queensland. I’m told my posters hung on the walls of Rizhsky railway station in Moscow, although I’m not sure about that. They are in the collections of the Queensland Art Gallery, on several online websites, and in the following book: Lynne Seear and Julie Ewington, eds. Light II, Contemporary Australian Art 1966-2006, Queensland Art Gallery Publishing, 2007, pp. 110-117. In my next incarnation, I was a senior lecturer in history. I published books and articles on urban health and feeding people in modern industrial cities, on the Queensland home front in the second world war and the role and history of war propaganda. Sometimes I wrote about Marxism and its impact around the world as well as intimate oral histories of communists in Australia, their experiences in conservative society, their role as social and political radicals in small towns and cities. Once I went through a death phase and wrote about the role of the Coroners Court in colonial society, about abortion and infanticide in nineteenth-century cities, and about the role of gossip in policing. My research took a decidedly happier direction when I was granted an Arts Fellowship to Antarctica in the 2007/08 season, as research for a biography about Antarctic surveyor and explorer Syd Kirkby. I bunkered down in a blizzard in Brooke’s hut near Davis station and imagined what it was like for Syd, caught for twelve days in a 150-knot blizzard, high in the plateau beyond Mawson in 1960.
What’s next?I’m wandering into the boggy territory of creative fiction, writing a series of crime stories set on King Island, a beautiful windy island in the Bass Strait between Victoria and Tasmania. I’ve finished the first draft of Book One, The Rock. There will be seven, I think. I’m also writing a stand-alone novel, called The Key Collector. It’s about a World traveller, Angela who settles in a Tasmanian village near her daughter and grandson where she witnesses a car crash that kills three women. Convinced the collision was an act of murder, she digs into the tragic lives of the victims and is mired in a mystery stretching across three continents and reaching into the second world war.
It’s like I’m still there – the teacher makes letters on the blackboard and tells us to repeat them, with the sounds. A big smile waltzes across my face, does a rumba in my heart, won’t go away even after I know I’m probably being a bit weird. I am learning to read. For at least a year I’ve been pretending I can read – making sounds and mouth shapes with an ancient copy of the King James Bible. My grandmother has been proudly telling people that I’ve taught myself to read. I am doing nothing to discourage the spread of this story. The big bonus. Not only do I learn to read. For free, I learn to write. My grandmother tells stories of her ancestors. I catch them up, write them down. I don’t know it, but I’m developing a historian’s sensibility, crafting stories of people, just like me, following dreams and making their way, in places where the rules are different, the repercussions more severe, the outcomes less predictable. The past. A tricky old world.