FAMILY IN LAW
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
IAN DIEHM, 72, LAWYER, ASPLEY
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.
CHRISTINE WELLS, 41, AUTHOR, CORINDA
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.