'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Thursday 1 September 2011

Featured Father: Shane Thamm

Happy father's day, Shane! 

Who are you? Shane Thamm

What do you do? I’m a publications and web officer for Southern Cross University and a freelance writer.

How many kids do you have? Two. My eldest, Angus, is three, and my youngest, Mae, is 15 months.

What kind of Dad are you? One who gets up late at night.

What do your kids call you? Angus calls me Mum and then laughs like crazy. It’s his favourite joke at the moment. Mae’s got it sorted. She calls me ‘Da-ddy’ in her cute baby voice.

What do you like most about being a Dad? Playing games. Angus is an addict. Hide-and-seek, looking for insects with a torch at night, flying in pretend rockets, dancing, whatever. Playing games with Angus is a hoot. They’re all so abstract and creative. The other pleasure is reading books to Mae. She devours everything and has a range of sound effects for different pictures. My wife and I are always trying to interpret what she’s trying to tell us.

What is your favourite book about Dads? I think Pat Controy’s The Great Santini (1976) is a ripper. It’s about a military Dad who’s a completely over bearing father. He’s actually a clichéd character, but Conroy draws him so well you don’t care as a reader, in fact, he’s absolutely absorbing. The book is a great reminder of how precious our relationships are and how important it is to be able to talk openly about things.

Can you tell us the name of your latest book? Is it good for Dads?
My latest and debut novel is called My Private Pectus, published by Ford Street. It focuses on the relationship of a father and his teenage son, Sticks, who has a congenital chest deformity called pectus excavatum and associated body image anxieties.

Sticks loves fixing cars, plays footy because he has to (his Dad is the team coach) and is desperately in love with a girl his mates hate. So in a blokey yarn about growing up as a male in today’s society, Sticks is right up against it. But it’s not all serious, there’s plenty of fun.

Good Reading Magazine called it ‘a superb, humorous and at times painful view of the culture of young men.’ So for Dad’s out there, My Private Pectus is a good way to get your boy to read something that’s light-hearted but explores important teenage issues at the same time.

illustrations: Leath Mattner
I’m also working on a new story called The Digger’s Shadow. It’s a children’s picture book about a young boy, Leonard, who’s father is fighting in Borneo during the Second World War. Leonard tries to conjure his father’s presence by creating shadows of soldiers in his backyard and bedroom.

I was inspired to write this after working at an RAAF childcare centre in Darwin a few years ago. Nearly all of the kids had fathers fighting in Afghanistan or Iraq. Many of the younger ones called me ‘Dad’ which was quite disconcerting, but a reminder of how much they missed their absent old man.

For more on My Private Pectus, see shanethamm.com