As for­mer lawyer Chris­tine Wells pub­lishes her latest novel, she re­flects on the traits she shares with her fa­ther Ian Diehm, also a lawyer and a writer

The Courier-Mail - QWeekend - - RELATIVE VALUES - Wells’ latest book The Wife’s Tale will be pub­lished by Pen­guin Ran­dom House Aus­tralia on Mon­day. ELISSA LAWRENCE


We have a small fam­ily unit. I’m an only child and so is my wife (Cheryl, 70). So we have our son Michael (44), Chris­tine and her hus­band (Jamie, 47, a lawyer) and their boys. Chris­tine has al­ways been a great joy to us. When she was lit­tle, she be­lieved she could do any­thing. She be­came school captain and was a great achiever.

I pushed her into law and maybe she didn’t thank me at times.

My (late) mother Maisie wrote a lot of po­etry and was an avid reader. When Chris­tine used to visit she’d get into her Ge­or­gette Heyer books and I’m sure she got her ro­man­tic writ­ing from that.

I did an Arts Law de­gree at The Univer­sity of Queens­land with a dou­ble ma­jor in his­tory. I was a bar­ris­ter-at-law from 1976 to 1988 and now I work full­time as a com­mer­cial lit­i­ga­tion lawyer as part­ner at Stephens & Tozer So­lic­i­tors.

At pri­mary school I played rugby league and then union at high school (Bris­bane Gram­mar School in the in­ner city). I also played club cricket for Toom­bul.

I was al­ways in­ter­ested in his­tory and

I’ve writ­ten sport­ing his­tory books: Giants in Green and Gold: Spring­boks Ver­sus Wal­la­bies 1921-1993 (1994); Red! Red! Red! The Story of Queens­land Rugby (1997); Green Hills to the Gabba: The Story of Queens­land Cricket (2000). I’d write six nights a week as well as work­ing full­time. My wife has al­ways been very sup­port­ive. I also write for the Aus­tralian Dic­tio­nary of Bi­og­ra­phy.

Chris­tine is more out­go­ing, more ef­fer­ves­cent than me. I’m more in­tro­verted and, I’d also say, very dif­fi­cult. I keep a lot of things in­side. I think things but I don’t say them and some­times that gets me in a bit of trou­ble.

I’ve al­ways been proud of Chris­tine. It’s not easy bringing up a cou­ple of boys and writ­ing full­time.

We spend a lot of time with the boys but not as much time with Chris­tine as we’d like … she’s very busy but she is al­ways think­ing of us.


Grow­ing up, I wanted to be a brain sur­geon be­cause I un­der­went surgery to cor­rect leak­ing brain fluid when I was two years old. It re­ally in­spired and fas­ci­nated me but I didn’t like the sight of blood.

So I took an­other di­rec­tion and de­cided to be a bar­ris­ter like Dad be­cause I loved public speak­ing.

I went to St Mar­garet’s Angli­can Girls School at As­cot (in Bris­bane’s north) and then did a Bach­e­lor of Laws at Queens­land Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy. I worked as a lawyer for about six years in cor­po­rate and com­mer­cial law but it didn’t re­ally fit.

I al­ways loved writ­ing but I didn’t start my first novel un­til I was work­ing as a lawyer. I be­came ob­sessed with writ­ing … I loved it so much. I worked full­time and wrote at night and on the week­ends.

Dad has def­i­nitely had an in­flu­ence on me. He wrote books as well and he’s al­ways had deep in­ter­ests out­side his job. He started a project and he saw it through.

When my (now) hus­band and I were think­ing of get­ting mar­ried, he sug­gested I give up work and write full­time. It was a huge step and I took a year to re­ally teach my­self how to write. It was about five years be­fore my first book came out. We also have two sons (aged 13 and 9).

I started off with murder mys­ter­ies and branched into his­tor­i­cal ro­mance … like Ge­or­gette Heyer or Jane Austen sort of thing … which was quite pop­u­lar in the United States but not re­ally in Aus­tralia.

Be­tween 2007 and 2014, I had 10 books pub­lished in New York that have been trans­lated into sev­eral lan­guages.

Dad is much more re­served than I am but we’re quite alike in that we be­come ob­ses­sive about a cer­tain thing and we both have a real love of his­tory. We don’t do as much to­gether as we’d like but we have fam­ily times and the kids love him.

He’s a lovely man and I’m just re­ally lucky to have him.

Pic­ture: Rus­sell Shake­speare

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