FitzSimons im­presses in the Whit­sun­days

Whitsunday Times - - LOCAL NEWS -

AT two me­tres tall, for­mer Aus­tralian rugby player Peter FitzSimons made an im­pres­sive en­trance to the Can­non­vale Marine Club on Satur­day af­ter­noon.

Wear­ing his trade­mark red ban­dana, black shirt and jeans, FitzSimons was in Air­lie Beach for the fifth an­nual Writ­ers Fes­ti­val at which he was a spe­cial guest.

The sports­man turned au­thor and jour­nal­ist with the Syd­ney Morn­ing Her­ald, re­galed the au­di­ence with a pre­sen­ta­tion on his favourite topic, “me, my life and what I think”.

The youngest of seven sib­lings, from Peat’s Ridge, FitzSimons grew up on what he de­scribed as “a diet of pretty good lit­er­a­ture” be­fore rugby “in­ter­vened”.

Play­ing rugby for the Wal­la­bies and rep­re­sent­ing Aus­tralia in seven Tests pro­pelled FitzSimons into the spot­light but it was writ­ing about rugby that would ul­ti­mately change his life.

His first book Bask­ing in Beirut was a col­lec­tion of rugby and travel sto­ries and his third book, a biog­ra­phy of the then Wal­la­bies cap­tain Nick Farr-Jones, sold 45,000 copies – up 30,000 from the pre­vi­ous best-seller on the same sport.

Rugby was also Fitzsimons’ “en­trée” to a job at the Syd­ney Morn­ing Her­ald, the pa­per he had grown up with and still loves.

While sports jour­nal­ism is a field FitzSimons de­scribes as hav­ing been good to him, he has branched into other top­ics for many of his 25 non-fic­tion books, in­clud­ing bi­ogra­phies on for­mer Op­po­si­tion Leader Kim Bea­z­ley, boxer Les Darcy, avi­a­tor Sir Charles Kings­ford Smith and war hero­ine Nancy Wake.

His tips for as­pir­ing writ­ers at the fes­ti­val in­cluded to “show not tell” a story and make it “live and breathe”.

FitzSimons, who is the cur­rent Guin­ness world record holder for the long­est in­ter­view ever con­ducted, after talk­ing with Richard Glover from the ABC for 24 hours straight, kept to his time limit of one hour on Satur­day.

He also hosted a gourmet din­ner as part of the fes­ti­val on Satur­day night.

De­scrib­ing the event as a chance to meet read­ers, he was very spe­cific about the virtues of be­ing an avid lover of books.

“It’s very hard to be a dick­head and also love read­ing,” he said.

SPE­CIAL GUEST: Peter FitzSimons stayed at Pep­pers Air­lie Beach Re­sort dur­ing his visit to the re­gion for the Whit­sun­day Writ­ers Fes­ti­val from Oc­to­ber 10-12.

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