Meet the Author: Hazel Barker

Hazel’s top tip for aspiring authors: My top tip is to avoid the mistakes I made. Don’t be in a hurry to send in your work to a publisher. Revise, revise and revise again and again.

hazel-barkerHazel Barker lives in Brisbane with her husband Colin. She taught in Perth, Canberra and Brisbane for over a quarter of a century and now devotes her time to reading, writing and bushwalking. From her early years, her passion for books drew her to authors like Walter Scott and Charles Dickens. Her love for historical novels sprang from Scott, and the love of literary novels, from Dickens. Many of her short stories and book reviews have been published in magazines and anthologies.

Hazel’s debut novel Chocolate Soldier, was released by Rhiza Press in September 2016. Book One of her memoirs Heaven Tempers the Wind, was released by Armour Books in August this year. Both books are set during World War Two – the former in England and the Far East, the latter in Burma.

Visit Hazel’s website here.


 Why do you write? I write because it gives me pleasure and satisfaction. It’s not what I earn or don’t earn. It’s like going on a journey.

 What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? I’ve retired now. If I was still working, I’d be teaching, as I am a teacher, but now that I’ve retired, if I wasn’t writing, I’d be immersed in orchids and helping my husband with his hobby.

 What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? My toughest obstacle was impatience – sending my manuscripts to publishers before they were polished to perfection.

 How involved have you been in the development of your book? Did you have input into the cover/illustrations? Last year I had two books published. My first book was a memoir Heaven Tempers the Wind. Story of a War Child. My publisher was Armour Books. A month later, Rhiza Press published my debut novel, Chocolate Soldier. The Story of a Conchie. Both publishers asked me what I had in mind for the covers. As my memoir was set in Burma, during World War Two, I wanted a setting with pagodas in the background and planes flying overhead.

My novel, Chocolate Soldier was not what I’d asked for, but my publisher sent me several covers to choose from, and I selected the one I liked.

 What’s the best aspect of your writing life? The best aspect of my writing life is the joy of writing and getting my work published. I’ve made so many friends within my writing groups and met so many wonderful people since I commenced my writing career. I guess that makes three. But it was difficult to stop …

 —the worst? The worst is the lack of time – having to sacrifice being with my husband or participating in other pleasures together.

 What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? I would join a writing group ASAP, instead of struggling on my own, and hold back from sending in my work too soon to publishers.

 What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? I wish I’d been told that writing styles have changed over the years and that I should not take my favourite classical authors as my model.

 What’s the best advice you were ever given? The best ever given to me was by Jean Briggs, who used to help so many aspiring authors. She told me not to write in the passive voice. She also said I had a good academic style of writing suitable for a thesis, but not for a novel.


chocolatesoldieresChocolate Soldier: The Story of a Conchie

London. 1940.

When World War II breaks out and men over eighteen are conscripted, Clarence Dover, a conscientious objector, refuses to go rather than compromise his principles.  Instead he joins the Friend’s Ambulance Unit.  From the London Blitz to the far reaches of Asia the war tests Clarence in the crucible of suffering.  In the end, will he be able to hold his head up as proudly as the rest and say, to save lives I risked my own?

One man will stand as God’s soldier, not the war’s soldier.

heaventempersthewindHeaven Tempers the Wind

Story of a War Child

Hazel’s idyllic childhood is torn apart by the bombing of Rangoon. The Japanese armies overrun Burma, forcing the family to move from one refuge to another. Hazel’s father, a Muslim, and her mother, a Catholic, fears for her children. Told through a child’s eyes, this story tells of a family’s travails during the darkest days of enemy occupation.

The book is available from Armour Books.


Meet the Author: Lynne Stringer

Lynne’s top tip for aspiring authors: Make sure you get all your books professionally edited and take your editor’s comments seriously.

lynne1-editedLynne Stringer has been passionate about writing all her life, beginning with short stories in her primary school days. She began writing professionally as a journalist and was the editor of a small newspaper (later magazine) for seven years, before turning her hand to screenplay writing and novels.

Lynne is the author of the Verindon trilogy, a young adult science fiction romance series released in 2013. Her latest novel, released in October 2016, is Once Confronted, a contemporary drama.

Find out more by visiting Lynne’s website.

She is also on Facebook and Twitter and has an Amazon author page.


Why do you write? I write because the ideas in my head knock on the inside of my skull, demanding release. There is no peace for me until they’re out.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? I would be a professional editor, which is actually my day job. It’s nice that I get to help other people make their books better.

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? Overcoming the thought that anything I wrote would be terrible just because I wrote it. When I first got a contract to have my debut novel published, my default reply if anybody asked me about my book was to say, ‘Yes, I’ve written a book but you probably wouldn’t like it.’ I had to get out of that habit pretty quickly, let me tell you! However, it took a while for me to realise that my stories were worth something and deserved to be printed and read.

How involved have you been in the development of your book? Did you have input into the cover/illustrations? I’m fortunate that my traditional publisher—Wombat Books/Rhiza Press—allowed me to have a significant level of involvement. My publisher asked my opinion and took my ideas seriously, resulting in what I feel are the best covers for my books.

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? When someone contacts me to ask me for more information about one of my characters, you know, that background stuff that doesn’t make it into the book but that people can obsess about if they love the people I have created. Nothing beats the joy I feel satisfying that desire for them.

—the worst? Having to go and ask for signings in bookstores or anywhere where I know it’s likely I’ll get a knockback. Also, seeing the places where unknown authors can place their books diminishing as small, independent bookstores close down and the big boys, who won’t play with unknown authors, getting all the sales.

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? I would have tried to learn a lot more prior to putting pen to paper … or fingers to keyboard! While I learn best on the job, I think I could have been a bit more prepared beforehand. But then, as I said, I tend to learn best that way.

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? That it would be hard and that it would probably take years and at least six books before I got anywhere and even then, getting ‘somewhere’ wouldn’t mean it got any easier.

What’s the best advice you were ever given? Make sure you get all your books professionally edited and take your editor’s comments seriously. You don’t have to accept them all but don’t just disregard them because they’ve requested changes. That’s their job.


theheir_cover-silver-award-500x750The Heir, the first book in the Verindon Trilogy

Sarah hates the prestigious high school she attends. Most of the other students ignore her. School is only made tolerable by the presence of Dan Bradfield, the boy she adores. Dan is the heir to his father’s multinational computer company, but he is dating Sarah’s best friend, Jillian.

When tragedy strikes, Dan is the one who is there for Sarah, but she can’t shake the feeling there is something strange about him. Is he protecting her from something? Is there something going on that she doesn’t know about?

And did she really see a monster in the bushes?

Sarah is desperate to uncover the truth, but it could take her to another galaxy, and change everything she believes about who she is. Will it bring Dan and Sarah closer together or tear them apart?

The Heir is available on Amazon.

onceconfrontedhigh500x770Once Confronted

After a normal day turns disastrous, Madison Craig tries to put her life back together. She’s jumping at shadows and finds even familiar places terrifying. Can she forgive the men who hurt her?

Her friend Evan Mansfield sees no need to do anything but hate their assailants. He struggles with bitterness, but Maddy wants to move on. But what will she do when one of the men asks for forgiveness? Is it the only way forward for her?

Once Confronted is available on Amazon





Meet the Author: Dianne Bates

Di’s top tip for aspiring authors: Write the best book you can but be more persistent than anyone else!

2015-4Author of 130+ books, Dianne (Di) Bates is a full-time freelance writer. Di has worked as a newspaper and magazine editor and manuscript assessor. She founded Buzz Words in 2006. Di is a recipient of The Lady Cutler Award for distinguished services to children’s Literature. Her website is


Why do you write? I’m not very good at many things and happily because I’ve written so many books (over 130), I’ve made my living from writing for many years, thanks in large part to lending rights and CAL payments.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? I’d be an events planner, a real estate agent, a stand-up comedian, a forensic pathologist or a detective.

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? Not hearing back from publishers. This didn’t happen when I began writing over 30 years ago, but nowadays most publishers don’t seem to have the time (or good manners) to acknowledge receipt of manuscripts or even to respond to them, unless of course it’s an acceptance.

How involved have you been in the development of your books? Do you have input into the cover/illustrations? Occasionally when I have a book contracted, a publisher submits two or three covers and asks my opinion, but other than that there has been no involvement post submission.

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? Working my own hours and being my own boss and being able to come up with ideas that usually lead to fruition.

—the worst? Not hearing back from publishers.

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? I don’t think I’d start if I knew all I now know. However, if I did proceed, I would find a mentor as well as a weekly writing critique group. I’d attend as many writing conferences and festivals as possible to network, and I’d read (and review) as many children’s books as possible. I’d write every day, but most importantly I’d learn how to edit fearlessly.

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? Publication is possible, provided you learn the essential writing and editing skills and you are prepared to overcome lots of obstacles.

What are the most significant changes you have seen in the publishing industry since your first book was published? When I first started writing, I worked on a manual typewriter and now of course there are computers. One can now submit electronically, a very good change which saves a lot of paper and postage costs. As well, of course, authors are expected to do much more than just write, including self-promotion, usually on social media.

Do you consider it more difficult now for writers to become published? Yes, there is much more competition and of course many courses for would-be writers. But I truly believe that outstanding writing will always find a market.

 Is your experience as a much-published author an advantage to you as a publisher? How does that experience influence your role when commissioning work? As author, reader and reviewer I have developed a ‘nose’ for sniffing out quality writing. And being in the industry for decades, I know the names and work of published authors; also I keep an eye out for new talent. At About Kids Books ( I don’t commission books; I am most interested in social realism but any book which is beautifully written whatever its genre is the kind of book I want to publish.


game-of-keeps-cover-3_front_draftA Game of Keeps

Dianne Bates

Celapene Press

RRP $14.99

Bright and cheerful Ashley lives with her mum and pet guinea pig, Froggie. Ashley wants a lot of things in her life: a puppy, to be a dancer or actress when she grows up, and more attention from her mum. Most of all she wants her parents to be reunited.

When Ashley is faced with major changes in her life she meets Daisy and Will, a couple from ‘Aunts and Uncles’. In them she finds a loving couple able to support and encourage her just when she needs it. But can they help Ashley develop the closer relationship with her mum that she yearns for and guide her through the changes ahead? Ideal for readers aged 8 to 10 years.  Purchase from




Picturing Friends with illustrator Veronica Rooke

bio-pic-2It’s my great pleasure today to introduce my talented friendly neighbourhood illustrator Veronica Rooke.

When Veronica isn’t drawing, she’s either running with her friend’s geriatric greyhound or talking to the neighbour’s cat. And yes,  she insists he meows back. In thirty years, Veronica’s illustrated hundreds of T-shirt designs for the tourism market and created two very popular comic serials for The School Magazine. There’s been LOTS of other drawing as well, but what Veronica enjoys most is illustrating picture books….and cake.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have Veronica assigned to work on my latest picture book, Friends, due for release soon by Serenity Press. It was such an exciting process to see my simple rhymes translated into colourful pictures with a touch of humour. I’m always interested in finding out how the creative process works for writers and illustrators, so I put Veronica on the spot with some questions about her illustrations for Friends.


Why did you cast a koala as the main character in Friends? The text doesn’t specify any particular characters. Because of my work for the tourism industry, I know that koalas are the most popular animal. But I didn’t decide that straight away. I did sketches of all different animals for the first few pages. Then when I looked at it as a reader, it felt odd. I didn’t have a single character to identify the ‘friend’ theme with.  When I put the koala in, it did this for me.

How did you decide on which creature to place on which page? First, I worked out the text for each page. Then while reading each one, I imagined which animal I could apply to it. Some pages were easier than others. You have the theme the author puts into their book, but I always like to add an element of humour into the illustrations.

You have worked on Australiana designs for tee-shirts in the past. Did this experience make the illustration process for Friends easier? Yes. I’ve drawn Australian animals since 1992. Tourists preferred animals to be well drawn. So when they return home with their shirts, everyone can clearly see where they’ve been for a holiday. Correctly drawn animals are important for Australians too. You can always spot when a badly drawn kangaroo looks more like an oversized rabbit!

You’ve created a special font for this picture book. Why didn’t you use a standard font? I started with a standard font while working out the pages. After I married up the illustrations to the text, it looked too boring. Also every font in my computer has been used before. I wanted a unique font just for this book.

This is the third picture book of Teena’s you’ve illustrated. Did you use a different approach? I needed to keep in mind the styles in Teena’s other books. I didn’t want her to end up with a similar looking one. When an author displays their books at a fair or a talk, it’s better if they all look different. I’m hoping there will be more books we work on together, so they’ll need to look different again.

As an artist, how do you feel about author involvement in your creative process? I like it. It’s the author’s story, so I feel they should have input. It’s my job to make what they want look amazing. But I’ll also suggest things along the way.

What media have you used to create the illustrations for Friends? I’ve used pencils to draw the illustrations and then scanned them into Photoshop.

Is your creative process when illustrating a picture book always the same, or does the project influence how you work on it? I start them all the same. I read the text as soon as I get it and then put it away. While I’m doing other things (like boring housework), my brain is busily conjuring up images to go with the words. When I sit down to draw, I can start sketching straight away.

What did you enjoy most about working on Friends? It gave me the chance to draw Australian animals. Teena is a great author to work with too. (Thank you!)

What’s next for you? I’m excited to have Monique Mulligan’s new book Fergus the Farting Dragon to begin illustrating next. I’ve created the cover, so we know what the character looks like and also the style. It’s being published by Serenity Press. Drawing an animal farting….what isn’t there to love about that?



Written by Teena Raffa-Mulligan, illustrated by Veronica Rooke

What makes a friend special?

Meet the Author: Mark Greenwood

Mark’s top tip for authors: To write well is an ongoing process. Strive to learn and improve. Don’t be easily discouraged. Read with a writer’s eye. If you write about history, learn to balance reading for pleasure with research.


Mark Greenwood’s award-winning books examining history, myths and legends have been published and honoured internationally.

Simpson and His Donkey was a CBCA Honour Book and a USBBY Outstanding International Book. Jandamarra, illustrated by Terry Denton, was shortlisted for the CBCA Eve Pownall Award, the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards Patricia Wrightson Prize for Children’s Literature and the West Australian Young Readers’ Book Awards.

Mark often teams with his wife, illustrator Frané Lessac, to produce books that promote an understanding of multicultural issues, such as Drummer Boy of John John, Magic Boomerang, Outback Adventure, and Our Big Island. Their recent titles include The Mayflower and Midnight – the story of a light horse.

Mark’s latest picture book is Boomerang and Bat, illustrated by Terry Denton.

In 2017 he will celebrate the release of four middle grade chapter books in his new series of History Mysteries.

Find out more about Mark and his books:


Why do you write? I write because I enjoy sharing stories.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? Being published as a songwriter gave me the confidence to progress from writing lyrics to creating books for children. If I wasn’t writing, I’d probably be making music for a living. I also enjoy collecting rocks, minerals and fossils. Perhaps I’d be a geologist or a paleontologist.

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? Starting out, knock backs from publishers were frustrating. Since then, I’ve learnt that publishing is a tough, competitive business and there are far more highs than lows when you persevere with stories you believe in.

How involved have you been in the development of your books? Did you have input into the cover/illustrations? Many of my books are illustrated by my wife, Frané Lessac. I can visualise intuitively how she will paint a scene. With Jandamarra and Boomerang and Bat, I was happy to let Terry Denton’s art tell much of the story. To express what you have to say in fewer words is challenging but it makes the collaboration of text and art stronger. Having said that, I’ve never met Doug Holgate, the illustrator of my new History Mystery series…or Andrew McLean, the illustrator of a new picture book. I have faith in the publishers and the excellent reputation of the illustrators they’ve chosen.

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? I get to visit schools and speak at festivals and to spend time with other creative people. Through writing, I’ve been invited to many remote Indigenous communities. I particularly enjoy traveling to where my stories take place. Walking in the footsteps of my characters enriches me beyond writing a book.

—the worst? It took years of hard work, many rejections and hours of revising before my first book was published. Every writer has an impressive collection of rejections. They make us strong.

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? I would make more time to read and write.

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? Being published once doesn’t make the next book any easier. Each new project requires that you work harder than the last one when you set high standards for your writing.

What’s the best advice you were ever given? Persevere and be patient. Embrace the solitude of writing. Talk things through with people you trust. Seek out great editors. Be open to constructive feedback and change – ‘work on it’ can take stories in wonderful, unexpected directions.

What inspired your two new titles? The spark to write Diamond Jack came from a visit to the historical museum in Broome. I was curious about the town’s wartime history, and intrigued by one particular photograph. It showed five men beside a bullet-riddled aircraft. They’d been sent on a mission to locate a missing treasure of diamonds. One of the men in the photo was Diamond Jack. I began collecting information about him from libraries and archives. Researching history is like going on a journey of discovery. It helps me balance creative interpretation with historical authenticity. On the surface, the story of Diamond Jack is a remarkable wartime adventure and a tale of survival against the odds. Beneath the surface, it is an incredible true story of an endearing character, forced to confront the consequences of an amazing discovery.

The mysterious disappearance of Ludwig Leichhardt is one of Australia’s greatest unsolved mysteries. It has always fascinated me. Some time ago, I stumbled upon an article about a gold prospector, a teenage boy and a small relic, said to have once belonged to the explorer. I began researching – brushing away layers of time. The discovery of the relic was a story within a story. It was a possible clue to our most baffling history mystery – the fate of Ludwig Leichhardt and his expedition.
I’m interested in the many personalities who have contributed to our history. My intention in writing The Lost Explorer was to encourage an understanding and appreciation of the sacrifice made by people like Ludwig Leichhardt, who went forth into the unknown at a time when Australia’s interior was uncharted by Europeans. I hope these History Mysteries connect readers to the characters and their situations, so that the past lives and breathes. My aim is that these stories become a springboard for deeper study and learning.


Delve into some of Australian history’s most baffling mysteries!

On January 30, the first two ‘History Mysteries’ in Mark’s new middle grade chapter book series will be published by Penguin Random House/ Puffin Books:

diamond-jackDiamond Jack

Paperback   ISBN 9780143309260

In March 1942, an allied aircraft prepares for a desperate midnight escape from Java, taking refugees to safety in Australia. Just before take-off, the pilot is entrusted with a mysterious, wax-sealed package. When the plane is shot down by the enemy and crash lands on the Kimberley coast, the package is forgotten – until a beachcomber stumbles across the find of a lifetime . . .

The book is available for pre-order here.

lost-explorerThe Lost Explorer

Paperback   ISBN 9780143309277

In 1848, the famous explorer Ludwig Leichhardt sets out on an epic journey. His aim is to cross Australia from east to west, but he never reaches his destination and no one from his expedition is ever seen again. Countless search parties look for the lost explorer but no trace is ever found – until a young boy is given an artefact with an incredible story . . .

The book is available for pre-order here

Meet the Author: Adele Jones

Adele’s top writing tip: Ask trusted and knowledgeable people to read your work (not just your family or a friend who ‘has good grammar’) and work hard. If you keep receiving the same feedback, positive or negative, listen. And be prepared to pay for professional editing. I do, even now.

adele_author_hdshQueensland author Adele Jones writes young adult and historical novels, poetry, inspirational non-fiction and short fiction works. Her first YA novel Integrate was awarded the 2013 CALEB Prize for an unpublished manuscript. Her writing explores issues of social justice, humanity, faith, natural beauty and meaning in life’s journey, and as a speaker she seeks to present a practical and encouraging message by drawing on these themes. For more about Adele and her work visit here website: or





Why do you write? I believe words are powerful and what we read, over time, becomes a part of who we are. In fact, I’m a member of a national writers’ organisation with a motto ending in: ‘We want our words to change the world.’ I guess that’s what I’m hoping, that the stories and poems I write will not only entertain, but also inspire deeper reflection, understanding and, ultimately, invest something positive into the lives of those who read them.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? Is that before or after my mummy and wifely ‘to dos’? LOL. Seriously, I studied science at university and continue to work in that field. If I wasn’t writing, I’d probably focus more on my science career, or maybe even take the opportunity to invest more time in my musical interests.

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? I would say myself: my impatience; my lack of insight into how much development my writing needed; my fear of sharing my writing with others who might not respect it. It was only when I did a Master of Letters majoring in creative writing that I began to realise just how much I needed to learn and engage with more experienced writers. And I’m still learning.

How involved have you been in the development of your book? Did you have input into the cover/illustrations? I’ve had a good deal of involvement in the development of my young adult techno-thriller novels. I realise this isn’t always the case. I’m grateful to my publisher for allowing me input, but I also recognise they know the market and have been in the publishing business much longer than I have. It would be unwise not to listen to their advice or respect their decisions throughout the publication process.

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? Having readers falling in love with my characters and enjoying the stories as much as I enjoy writing them.

—the worst? Feeling like I never have enough time to get everything done, including writing. Life gets busy and families have this weird thing where they want to see mummy every now and then. LOL. Sometimes it’s like robbing Peter to pay Paul, only Peter’s broke.

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? Invest more in my craft from the start and get connected with other, more experienced writers. Hopefully that way I’d realise how much I needed to learn sooner. (Though, knowing me, I’d probably still make many of the same mistakes …)

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? It’s a funny thing. I started writing because I had this recurring dream which I wrote down, but I didn’t really correlate that with the idea of becoming an author until many years later, when it seemed a reasonable idea to try and get my first manuscript published. (It was rather dreadful, so that didn’t fly for a long time.) I wish someone had invited me to a local writing group sooner.

What’s the best advice you were ever given? ‘Hey, since we both like writing, why don’t we meet up regularly and talk about that?’ This was how a friend and I started our writers’ group, and that was the thing that really catalysed my writing from ‘something I did on the side’ to purposefully building an author platform and pursuing further opportunities to develop my craft.


integratecoverimage Integrate (Book 1 in the series)

Blaine Colton had been handed a genetic death sentence until revolutionary gene therapy changed his life. Living a relatively normal existence, he is called to an unscheduled post-treatment appointment just weeks before his eighteenth birthday. Informed that his life saving procedure was never approved, he is held against his will for his status as an apparent illegal GMO. Subjected to constant testing, refused contact with his parents and deprived of life- sustaining medication, Blaine begins to suspect that something is wrong. Wanting answers, he escapes the Institute and ambitious Chief Scientist, Dr Melissa Hartfield. Now a fugitive with a failing body, Blaine must find Professor Ramer, the developer of his therapy. But the Professor has vanished and time is running out. Fast.

The book is available here.


replicatehigh Replicate (Book 2 in the series)

Blaine Colton is pulled into a chilling
conspiracy when he discovers embryonic
clones with his name on them.


Suspecting the research has breached ethics agreements,
he brings close friends, Sophie and Jett Faraday, in on a
scheme to find answers. Immediate threats reveal not
everyone is happy about his discovery. The reappearance
of an identity from Blaine’s past unsettles him further, and
then a crisis fractures his world. Convinced his research
objections and the tragic events are linked, Blaine pursues justice. But
someone is watching him. Someone wants him dead.

The book is available here.

activate_largeActivate (Book 3 in the series)

Josh Hammond’s not who he says he is.

If he’s to stay alive, he must guard his identity, existing isolated from his former life and those he loves. The one enemy he can’t outrun is his failing health—and time is short. Desperate for a solution, Josh leaves the protection of his safe house unapproved. Instead of a cure, he’s left powerless against a cunning adversary. Determined to reclaim his life, he grasps an opportunity for escape, but things go drastically wrong. Can he find a way to expose the lies of a criminal mastermind, or will he be silenced? Forever.

The book is available here.

Meet the Author: Ken McLean

Ken’s top tip for aspiring authors: Write about the things that you enjoy, love and believe in – that work for you. Draw on the experiences you have and come from that personal experience. Enjoy what you are doing – don’t be concerned with the end result.

ken-mcleanKen McLean has been a teacher of Aikido, Ki energy cultivation, Ki Shiatsu and Macrobiotics for more than 40 years. In that time he helped thousands of people achieve greater health, happiness and success in the programs that he teaches and in his personal consultations. Through his long-time experience and studies he has distilled the essence of many ways, programs and teachings into a simple but powerful way of bringing forth our human potential.

This is the at the heart of his book, Harmony Is Success. Living your greatest life through the expression of the Four Relationships. For many years Ken McLean has researched “the flow state” and how to bring that expression into all aspects of daily life. Life then becomes the practice.

Ken lives in Bronte, Sydney.  He directs a centre for the development of Body, Mind and Spirit called Shin Sen Dojo. He is a surfer and a musician. He has ten children and seven grandchildren. Visit him at Facebook here.


Why do you write? Firstly as a way to collect my thoughts and insights into a clear, visible and discernible form. It’s also as a way of sharing the principles and understanding that have worked for me and others. Also I think writing taps into things inside you that you don’t always know are there. It is a great way to discover that hidden inner world.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? Being a writer and an author is a recent thing for me. For the past 40 years I have been practicing, consulting and teaching Aikido, Ki energy cultivation, Shiatsu and Macrobiotics. If I was not a writer I would probably focus more on my music, song writing and performing. Apart from this I also have a blog on my website and I have written articles in newspapers and magazines.

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? Firstly having the discipline to write, and then overcoming the hesitation to extend the writing out into the world for others to see. Writing is also a great exercise in opening and showing who you are, so there is a bit of confrontation with the self that wants to remain hidden.

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? The best aspect is the completion of something that started with one sentence like the ancient Taoist saying, “The journey of ten thousand miles began with one step”. Reaching the ten thousand miles after so many steps is pretty good. Also it is wonderful to see the ephemeral quality of ideas manifesting into something more solid and discernible.

—the worst? For me it takes a strong application of will to actually sit down and write. It doesn’t come naturally to me, as I am a more outgoing physical type. Developing that discipline is challenging but worth it. It definitely develops your concentration.

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? Start earlier in my life and develop a regular daily discipline. I would pass on the advice that I received from a friend who is a writer of novels. He advised me to set aside a time and place every day for writing and even if nothing comes, just to go there and sit to create that regular rhythm.

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? I really don’t know if I’d like to be told too much, as the discovering process is the enjoyable part – the entering into of the unknown. Although I think it is certainly worthwhile to talk to authors and absorb their ideas and approaches and take what works for you.

What’s the best advice you were ever given? “Never give up!”  If it doesn’t come in a year take two, if it doesn’t come in five years take ten. It will come.  And as I mentioned earlier the idea of having a constant regular practice and committing to that is important.


harmony-is-successHarmony is Success

Ken McLean



Human life is based on the harmonious balance between four relationships. This is the purpose and art of living. When practised consciously it results in greater fulfilment, success and the powerful and free expression of our deepest Self. The book is available here.