In his own words – Neal Drinnan – Writer and Owner Cow Lick Bookshop Colac


rare-bird-of-truth NealDrinnan

Where do you hail from? I’m from Camberwell in Melbourne originally, came to the Otways via Sydney

What brought you to Colac?

The rainforests of the Otways and the Great Ocean Rd brought about my tree change or ‘man-o-pause’ but it was starting my bookshop that brought me to Colac

Why did you choose Colac to open a bookshop?

I chose Colac because as a writer it was a perfect example of ‘a small town anywhere’, to me it’s somewhere between Twin Peaks and Royston Vasey in the famous English sitcom ‘League of Gentlemen.’ I love it for the same ordinariness I would have hated it for in my youth!

What have been the delights and the challenges of moving from a major capital city to a country town ?

The delight of knowing so many people’s names and what their interests are and  the daily joys of being able to help people find the answers to their questions through books. The challenges I guess are that Colac seems to have been given the dubious honour of being the homophobe capital of Victoria… I haven’t found it to be so but a lot of people feel they have to hide their true selves here and that is sad. Do you have a favourite place in the Otways? Absolutely, The Redwoods, Hopetoun Falls and Stephensons Falls…I’m a sucker for all the falls!

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

By the time I was in my mid-twenties and getting articles published 
What inspired you to write your first book? A dream and a poem that was born of that How many novels have you published and do you have a favourite? I’ve published 5 novels and I guess my favourite is always the last or the next one so I’ll say Rare Bird of Truth and soon it will be GAS BAIT ICE, my forthcoming book…. Do you have a specific writing style? Yes, its cheeky, sometimes camp and occasionally dark Are there  “messages” in your novel that you want readers to grasp?  Oh yeah but I don’t wield a sledgehammer What books have most influenced your life most?  Boys Own Life by Edmund White, To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee and Valley of the Dolls by Jaqueline Susanne

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Tennessee Williams most definitively!

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

Moralla, Tidy Town twice running, became something of a boom town in the 1980’s for its quality domestic dairy produce. Like other regional towns, Bodella and Bega with their respectively named cheeses, Moralla was once almost a household name. Unfortunately price wars in the nineties and noughties favoured Bega and Bodella, their infrastructures more dynamic, their workers more adaptable. When larger supermarkets and food chains no longer required Moralla’s product the town began to suffer.  TV ads for Bega cheese had worked their way into the national psyche, who could forget Better Buy Bega? Who would remember Tell ‘er Moralla?             The cheese factory closed down after expensive but abortive attempts at bringing in savvy marketeers from the city and the town’s only real landmark, a huge buttery yellow wedge of Swiss cheese with holes for kids to crawl through, sat abandoned outside the boarded-up souvenir shop and Cheese World Museum. Back in the day people would stop off. Drivers took notice of the ‘REST, REVIVE, STAY ALIVE’ signs. Children would dash excitedly from cars to climb the Mighty Cheese but paint is peeling off in pizza-sized sheets these days, the cheap particle board it was constructed from is rotten to the core. Warning signs make clear, it’s no longer a safe place to play. Gone is the miniature railway that toured the cheese factory, gone too is the bird sanctuary that closed after too much interest from the RSPCA and too little from the general public.             Other towns along the coast are thriving with retirees and their superannuation pay-outs but Moralla is fourteen kms from the beach. The retirees from Canberra have bought in Narooma, Turos Heads, Bermagui or Bateman’s Bay where Marina’s, restaurants and seafood co-ops thrive and Hillsong Churches offer bright, lucrative futures with Christ. In these bustling locales, Leagues clubs and RSLs are turning into small towns of their own from the steadily dripping fat off the poker machines. Moralla has a river for fishing and rich, green dairy pastures but aside from the sawmill and the two pubs, there wasn’t much doing there, not much at all until now…

Who designed the covers?

All my covers were designed in house by the publishers except Rare Bird of Truth which was designed by a great friend of mine, Tim Mansour

Do you have any advice for other writers?





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