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 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 www.boombooks.biz
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.
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.