James McQueen (1934-98)

Brief Biography

James McQueen was born in 1934 in Tasmania. His youth was spent fishing, farming and driving trucks and he later worked as a fruit-picker, ship's cook and weatherman on Macquarie Island. He studied at the National Art School in Sydney before completing a four-year course in accountancy. At the age of 40 he returned to Tasmania and settled in the north-east of the state to grow orchids and to write. Both of which he did successfully.

During his writing career he wrote about 170 stories which were published in various countries around the world and for which he won more than 50 awards. He wrote 7 novels, published six volumes of stories, 3 children's books and several non-fiction works.

James McQueen died in 1998.


Just Equinox 1980
Hook's Mountain 1982
The Floor of Heaven 1986
White Light 1990
The Heavy Knife 1991
Dead Reckoning 1999
Stretch 1999

Short Story Collections
The Electric Beach 1978
The Escape Machine 1981
Uphill Runner 1984
Death of a Ladies Man 1989
Lower Latitudes 1990
Travels with Michael and Me 1992

Children's Fiction
Escape to Danger 1979
The Night of the Crocodile 1997
Candelaria Massacre 1997

Miniature Orchids ?
Orchids of Thailand ?
The Franklin: Not Just a River ?

Hook's Mountain 1982
Jacket design: Guy Mirabella

Dustjacket synopsis:
"Arthur Blackberry and Lachlan Hook. Two men living out their days in a township set in the soft-dominating bushland of Australia.

"At the price of some ridicule Arthur has achieved a camouflaged existence which permits security and acceptance. Until Hook arrives.

"Possessed of a violent bluntness of purpose, Hook has a different kind of alignment, tightened by his war experiences and firmed into caution and violence. Into their carefully balanced world comes the threat of pine afforestation, the weeping sores of the chainsaws and the angry slash of the tractor's blade.

"For Hook, this is the opening of another war; and if the rallying cry is still national pride and protection of Australia it is at least a war to be fought on his own territory. Arthur, bewildered, becomes a committed if unobtrusive participant and the fearful recipient of Hook's gift: a gift of a gun, a mountain, and a message.

"A gun that is both an instrument of death and the means of change...

"A mountain that is a monument...

"And a message that a single person can try to alter the way things are.

"Hook's Mountain is a work of powerful imagery, symbolism and stature. Behind the interplay of characters and emotions lies the ever-present menace of the destruction of Australia's bush and the power of its bureaucracies.

"A compelling novel which pushes Australian fiction to the vanguard of modern writing."

First Paragraph

The rain falls down on last year's man
That's a jew's-harp on the table
That's a crayon in his hand
And the corners of the blue-print
Are ruined since they rolled
Far past the stems of thumbtacks
That still throw shadows on the wood
And the skylight is like skin
For a drum I'll never mend
And all the rain falls down, amen,
On the works of the last year's man.

Spring 1981
Among the crossing places, where the tunneled ruins were broken by the river of the bitumen, dark as the night, Arthur chose his spot. On a high bank above the bend at the end of the long straight he settled easily on a fallen log. About him the low scrub of peppermint regrowth, native heath and bracken sprang from the hard ochre clay and above him the blackness of the sky was prickled with stars as sharp as pin stabs. Hunched, bunched in his old bluey coat, his sugarbag gathering frost at his feet, he watched the night through the soft mist of his breath.

From the Macmillan hardback edition, 1982.

This page and its contents are copyright © 2000-01 by Perry Middlemiss, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

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Last modified: March 25, 2001.