Dr Annette Tyson is a well-known local artist and assistant surgeon who now adds another feather to her cap with author, as she releases her debut novel Garrow Head.
The story is set in Van Diemen’s Land in the early 19th Century in a fictitious location known as Garrow Head.
While it has a strong historical background, Annette describes it as a tale of medicine, mystery and art, with a touch of romance.
“I was born in Tasmania, and I am proud to be a descendant of the colonial artist, John Glover, who emigrated with his family from London in the early 19th Century for reasons unknown.
“I used them as the starting point for my story,” Annette said.
“By reading Garrow Head, I hope people will develop an understanding of society in 19th century Van Diemen's Land and its impact on the Palawa (the Tasmanian Aboriginals).
“Many interesting people visited or lived in Van Diemen's Land during the 1830s – the time period when my book is set.
“I have included some of these people in the story: historical figures such as Count Pawel Strzelecki, the governor of the day, Sir John Franklin and his wife Jane, a woman many years ahead of her time with interests in science, social reform and education for women.”
Novel Annette Tyson's 10-year labour of love
Garrow Head has been a 10-year labour of love for Annette because she has led, and continues to lead, a very busy life.
Annette lives by the sea at Bargara with her supportive husband and fellow medico, John Evans.
In her early years Annette was raising her two sons, working in the operating theatres of Bundaberg, and developing her art and textile design practice.
Annette has always had a fascination with history and art and as a doctor has a particular interest in the history of medicine.
She spent many hours searching through second-hand bookstores, libraries and museums.
Initially, her research was conducted when she travelled to her family cottage in Low Head, Tasmania, during school holidays.
But in more recent years Annette has been able to spend more time in the region to write, paint and recharge.
Some of Annette’s literary treasures include a copy of her grandmother’s nursing textbook and an original copy of her great-great-grandfather Henry Button’s book, Flotsam and Jetsam.
Annette said Henry married John Glover’s granddaughter, Emma, who was a major character in the story, and he writes about visiting Patterdale and the Glovers in Flotsam and Jetsam.
Annette credits attending creative writing workshops organised by the Bundaberg Writer’s Club in helping her writing to evolve.
The first draft of the manuscript was finished in 2019 but then the long process of editing commenced, Annette said it was another two years before she felt the story was ready for publication.
Annette considered herself fortunate to have found a wonderful publisher, Foot and Playsted, in Launceston, Tasmania.
Finally, in October 2022, the first copies arrived in a box on her Bargara doorstep.
“I enjoyed doing the research for the book and made some fascinating discoveries along the way,” she said.
“I also enjoyed developing the characters and their world.
“It was difficult managing all the plot lines, who was meant to be where and when, and who knew something that someone else didn't.
“The editing process was the most difficult part of all.
“I didn’t realise that writing the end on the manuscript is actually only the beginning of the process.”
Garrow Head will be officially launched this month, with copies already available at Artisans Bargara, The Book Boutique Bundaberg, Dymocks Bundaberg and Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery.
Annette Tyson said she looked forward to doing readings at local book shops and at the Bundaberg Library.