Meet the Author: Cate Davis

CATE’S TOP WRITING TIP:Be yourself ‘cause everyone else is taken.’ -Edgar Alan Poe


Cate DavisCate Davis was born and bred on a sheep property in the New England District of New South Wales. When she was six, petrol rationing was introduced in Australia and there were no school buses, so to attend the closest primary school, she would have had to ride her pony six miles there and back each day. Although she was a competent rider, Cate’s parents thought this would be too much for her, so her mother home schooled her with the assistance of Blackfriars Correspondence School. Her mother also taught her to play the piano.

Cate boarded at a girls’ hostel during her high school years. After leaving school she travelled to Sydney and enrolled as a private student at the NSW State Conservatorium of music. She married and finally settled in Albury, where, with two small boys, she commenced tertiary studies externally. She gained three degrees in education and became a successful high school music teacher. She also co-founded the Border Music Camp which has now been functioning successfully for more than 40 years


Why do you write? Writing was a secondary career for me. I was a senior high school music teacher for 35 years, but when I developed tinnitus, having a ‘no note’ sounding in my head all the time robbed me of my confidence when tuning the orchestra. I had received complimentary comments about my writing style at university, so I started attending adult education classes in writing. In collaboration with my late husband Ian as illustrator, we produced the children’s book, Polly Platypus. Then when his aunt, who was the first migrant welfare officer to be appointed after World War II, failed to respond to persuasions to write her autobiography, I said I would write her biography and Great Granny B was accepted for publication. Then the discovery of my father’s war diaries from World War I whetted my appetite again and From Gallipoli to Coopers Creek was the result.

What would you do if you weren’t a writer? I would become more involved with handcraft – creative machine embroidery, tapestry, weaving etc.

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? Learning to read my own manuscripts objectively.

What is the best aspect of your writing life?  Seeing hard copies of my books.

 – the worst?  When writing biography, you sometimes have to write about something that is very sad. When writing From Gallipoli to Coopers Creek , I had to include a chapter about my father having to shoot his own horse. This was because quarantine laws made it impossible for them to bring their horses home. If he had not shot him, the horse would have been sold to an Arab, and they did not deal with their horses kindly. His horse, Barney, had served him safely throughout the war, even saving his life on one occasion. My father could not bear the thought of him being cruelly treated. I loved riding horses as a child, and could empathise with his feelings – I cried all the way through the writing of this.

What would you do if you started out as a writer now? Because I still consider myself to be a beginner in this field, I don’t think this question applies.

What do you wish you had been told before you set out to become a writer? How tortuous the path can be from being accepted for publication and being published.

What’s the best advice you were given? To write confidently about your own view of things. Don’t feel you have to kowtow to the opinions of others.


From Gallipoli to Coopers CreekFrom Gallipoli to Coopers Creek

by Cate Davis



This is the story of one soldier of the so-called Great War. He sailed from Australia at the end of 1914, a proud, even bombastic youth with the certainty that he would do his bit to save Mother England and by doing so, would set the world on the right path. He was totally ignorant of the real causes of this war and the place the different countries played in it.

When he landed at Gallipoli though and found the air permeated with the stench of hundreds of rotting bodies still lying where they had fallen a month earlier, he was confronted by the reality and horror of war. He records his first shot in his diary – it was far from the first time he had fired a gun, but it was the first time he had deliberately fired a shot with the intent of killing another human being.

The evacuation of Gallipoli, the inept defeat at Gaza and the realisation he had to become a completely different person to obey the orders he was given weighed heavily on his soul. Ghandi once said, ‘Man finds himself by losing himself’, and this is the story of how Lieutenant Bruce Campbell struggled to find himself and the difficulty he had in fitting back into a society where the civilians were still thinking in terms of pre-war society.

Returning home brought no joy either. Even things he expected to be familiar now seemed strange and no one at home had any idea what the war was really like. To make matters worse, his fiancée broke off their engagement.

This is a biographical story of his struggles to overcome all these adversities. He finally falls in love with a woman who has also been adversely affected by the war and has her own obstacles to overcome. Between them, they carve out a happy and meaningful life on the block of land Bruce has been granted under the Soldier Settlement Scheme. It is a heartwarming story about the legacy of war and the healing power of love.

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Meet the Author: Ron Williams

RON’S TOP TIP FOR HISTORY WRITERS: Do not put everything you know into your book. Your content should be directed at what the reader will appreciate, and not everything you know. Tables, charts and statistics might give you a feeling of precision, but they kill a book. Forget them. If you can’t put your content into 150 pages max, take up something like knitting babies’ socks.

Ron WilliamsRon Williams is a retired teacher, mathematician, computer-man, political scientist, farmer and writer. He has a BA from Sydney and a Masters in Social Work and a PhD in Political Science from Hawaii. Inspired by the fact most people know nothing about their year of birth, he has produced a series of 28 year books that highlight newsworthy events. For information about Ron and the series, visit



Why do you write? I like the study of history, using prime sources. To simply research is not enough, I need to store the material so that others can use it.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? I would be a pioneer for very-fast-trains, and start a mass movement based on social media that might force politicians to give us fast trains before 2040.

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? I was overawed by the pomposity of the publishing business, and the obstacles that old-style publishing created.

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? The research and then seeing it all come together in a book that I can be proud of.

—the worst? Ergonomic pain caused by sitting still at a keyboard for 80 hours a week.

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? For history writers: Cut the material down to what I might use, and not collect masses of all-seeing and all-dancing material. In other words, focus on the end product, and let others write the unreadable encyclopaedias.

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? That I would be the publisher and that it was my own book and that I could do whatever I liked without censure or control from others.

What’s the best advice you were ever given? I learned by painstaking steps, and the advice I got came after I had learned my lessons. So, no best advice.


Born in 1946 smlborn in 1956 sml born in 1966 sml

This series of 28 books on Australian social history puts nostalgia in the spotlight by describing the newsworthy events that affected people in a given year. They are designed to make readers remember and wonder at things forgotten, and to spark discussion between the generations about the past, so ensuring the rediscovery of a heritage that would otherwise be forgotten.

The books are available from Boom Books and Booktopia.

Meet the Author: Magic Barclay

Magic’s Top Writing Tip: Formulate your plan. I worked with coloured post-it notes to set my layout. From there I wrote in bite-sized chunks until I was happy with each section. Having a plan led to a concise piece of work, which I am very proud of.

Magic BarclayIt’s my pleasure this week to introduce Magic Barclay, who works with people from all walks of life to help them lose weight naturally by understanding their emotions around food. Magic’s involvement in the weight loss industry began with the realisation she needed to live a long and healthy life to care for her two sons. She became immersed in learning as much as she could about nutrition and wellness, lost more than 74kgs and is now a sought-after speaker and panelist and a recognised leader in the field.

Magic is also a passionate advocate for the disability and carer communities and animal welfare. Visit to read more of her inspirational personal story.


Why do you write? I write to inspire and educate others on weight loss. After my own experiences, I felt there was a need for someone to help cut through the ‘white noise’ of information with direct and implementable advice.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? If I wasn’t a writer, I would be a counsellor. I think giving to others and lifting them up is the greatest way to fill your own soulful needs and fulfil your own purpose.

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? The toughest obstacle in becoming published was to navigate the technological areas of the process. Working with editors and making sure that your message stays intact is tough too.

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? The best aspect of my writing life is being able to express myself without needing to hold back. Having a platform for unadulterated views was exhilarating for me.

—the worst? The worst aspect of my writing life is that my ideas change from chapter to chapter. Getting over-excited can lead to sloppy work, so making sure that continuity reigns is vital. I’m an ‘all or nothing’ kind of person, so making sure that I didn’t just charge ahead and leave my readers behind was difficult at times.

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? I wouldn’t do anything different if I was starting out as a writer again. I found the journey one of excitement and each lesson I learnt along the way has served me well.

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? I wish I’d been told how to block out distractions before I became an author. It’s easy to be surrounded by people who have views on your work, it’s harder to block them out when you’re on a writing spree. I would set myself a space for writing so that I had a retreat to be in free of distractions

What’s the best advice you were ever given? The best advice I was ever given was to be myself in my writing. Putting on a persona can only lead you to confusion in your writing, that then confuses your reader. Staying true to yourself shows your authenticity in your work.


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