About Gary Morris
In many ways Gary’s journey mirrors that of another great Australian story-teller, Bryce Courtenay.
Both authors had turbulent upbringing followed by successful careers in business before turning to their life passion… writing.
From Telegram Boy to Horse breaker, Dam builder to company Director, Gary’s experiences have built a wealth of insights into the nature of humanity at all levels, resulting in stories that touch a nerve in us all.
‘I was born in the great city of Melbourne, Australia in 1944, the result of a hurried leave-pass taken by my Dad, Charlie who was serving as a war-time cook in the Australian Army. Mum, Ena Beryl, spent 13 turbulent years with Dad - who was a serial womaniser – before leaving him when my sister Lorraine and I were only nine and twelve years old respectively. A short time later Mum took another partner, Bruce Judd, factory worker, gentleman, alcoholic and all-round great guy. Bruce’s gentle ways and caring nature were a positive and healing influence on our lives.
My dad died when I was ten years old.
I was always considered ‘bright’, but a propensity to daydream and fantasise resulted in mediocre grades at school, although I did win a national scholarship at fourteen. Anyway, I declined further education to leave school and help put food on the family table (which took up a large part of the two-room iron shed in which we lived). My first job was ‘Telegram Boy’ for the Malvern Post Office, followed by a stint as process worker in Bruce’s factory. By late teens I had pursued a number of vocations; Truck Driver, Timber cutter, Bulldozer Operator, Wild Brumby Catcher and more. Throughout, I continued to write about anything and everything, a victim of my vivid imagination I guess, filling countless diaries and notebooks.
In 1964 the rivers of booze caught up with Bruce and he died from a massive stroke, only 41 years young, leaving Mum and my two half-sisters behind. Sandy was only nine and little Tracie just two years old. I was in New Zealand at the time, driving scrapers on a massive dam project, but now it was time to come home and take over the bread-winners role. I was nineteen.I needed a job, a car and money badly and… what luck... I landed a job as a Car Salesman! I was good at it too, (he says modestly), working my way up until I was helping manage the branch.
By 1966 I had met the love of my life, Sandra Knight, who has been my soul-mate, constant companion and inspiration since. We married in December 1968 and I had shifted career to be an Area Manager for Hoover, where I spent 11 years, all the time filling the gaps in my education, gaining qualifications in Marketing, Accounting and General Management.
At 35 years old I was running a Branch of the company and still writing whenever I could find the time. It was difficult with two children, Grant and Kellie (13 months apart…groan) and an ailing mother to care for.
Mum died in ’79 at only 58 years of age. I still miss her every day.
In 1981 I was ‘head-hunted’ to a National Fastener Company as National Marketing Director. During the five years in this role I travelled extensively around the world, brokering deals in several countries, writing and producing screen and print advertising, organising seminars, conferences and launches and developing new and innovative products.
In the late eighties I decided to move on from the politics and restraints of corporate life and Sandra and I started an importing business, bringing cookware and fine tableware to Australian retailers. I was also in demand as an export/import consultant, working with Austrade and some medium sized Australian companies to sell our country’s goods around the world.
For the next decade our family led a rather fortunate life. When I was at home, weekends were feverish with activity. Grant and Kellie seemed to want to play every sport imaginable, there was an acre of garden to manage and, as ever, I had my research and writing. By the late nineties I had reams of notes on the lives of some very interesting characters from the mid nineteenth century; people that few had heard about, but who had lived amazing lives. Could I write a novel about these people? Weave an exciting story around the facts of history? Over the next few years I raked through whole libraries of archives, visited historical sites and talked to countless people on my travels. Gradually the story took shape; a tale of greed, lust, power and corruption, the darkest corners of human nature, wrestling with the irresistible forces of goodness, love and spirituality. The result was an exciting framework for the novel that I was itching to write.
My chance came in 2006. A battle with cancer (which I seem to have won, says he, reaching to touch wood… me superstitious?... nahh) had made me realise the folly of postponing dreams too long. We sold our small business and turned to a fresh new page in our life’s journal. Now I could do what I had always dreamed of… become a writer! Finish the novel I was working on, then start the next… and the next after that… and …
It was exciting! After a year of feverish activity ‘A Line Of Dogs’ was ready for publication, transformed from crammed drawers of notes into a 670 page novel. And a good novel… according to the reader group that critiqued the manuscript.
Now, with the launch of A Line Of Dogs so well received and sales shooting up the charts, (and the next book already being drafted) I am proud to use the old cliché – ‘living the dream’.
So readers, life for me so far has been a wonderful journey, with the best yet to come. I hope that you can take time to share and enjoy part of it with me.