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  • Writer's pictureStu Lloyd

The Year of Living Differently

It's been a very different year. I quietly retired from the training and development work (in storytelling and business creativity) I've been involved in since 1999. The rigours of relentless travel over that time had taken a toll on my health and I simply wanted to spend more time at home, and sleep in my own bed each night, rather than the usual 200 nights a year on the road.

Highlights? Too many to mention, but definitely keynoting at the World Marketing Congress in Mumbai was one, and the privilege of working with some of the finest minds in the world with teams at companies like Intel, Mercedes, Citibank, and Colgate-Palmolive. And experiencing the people and cultures of places as distant as Nepal (great motorcycling, would love to go back) and Pakistan (working with the team that created the World Cup footballs for Adidas).

Moving to the sparse quietness of regional Australia has been a reverse culture shock for me. Especially when the local town has a population of roughly the same amount of people who would cram into one peak-hour carriage on the Shanghai subway.

My focus this year has been on writing a music biography, of one of Australia's greatest-ever bands, Mental as Anything. A quirky art school pop band that had more hit singles than any other Australian band (including INXS) in the pulsing 80s and 90s Oz Rock era. That book STARTED OUT JUST DRINKING BEER - THE MENTAL AS ANYTHING STORY just rolled out, and is going gangbusters. Australian Financial Review put in their year-end round-up of top 10 music books. And the book tour (mostly with members of the band ... yes, we're still talking!) took us to Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, and further afield to literary hotspots such as Tathra, Orange and even Forbes. (Read and hear a bunch of the TV, radio and press interviews I did here.) I see from the Amazon chart that I'm outselling Keith Richards, Bob Dylan and Dolly Parton, so that's pretty cool.

Another highlight this year was being approached by the British Army leadership development team, who wanted me to prepare a study guide for a cohort of soldiers they were taking on a tour to Singapore. They wanted to use maps and materials I'd developed for my latest WW2 book, A BLEEDING SLAUGHTERHOUSE - THE OUTRAGEOUS TRUE STORY OF THE ALEXANDRA HOSPITAL MASSACRES, FEBRUARY 1942. I thought that was quite ironic, but accepted it as something of a compliment for the forensic research I'd undertaken over the previous 10 years on that heinous incident and working out finally 'whodunnit'. That book continues to sell strongly on the shelves in Singapore, as does THE MISSING YEARS - A POW'S STORY FROM CHANGI TO HELLFIRE PASS, another non-fictionwar story.

I've also been kept busy getting my home recording studio up-and-running, so I can turn many of the 19 books I've published into audiobooks. This will be a big part of what I do in 2024, bringing all those stories to life as the narrator. I'm really looking forward to re-living those emotional journeys.

And finally, my big 'jump and then build a parachute' undertaking for next year will be writing my first novel. I always swore I'd never write fiction, but I see it as a challenge because it's a vastly different skillset (although the fundamentals of human storytelling apply), but I'm also relishing the liberation of not being totally slavish to fact. In other words, just making shit up!

Those of you familiar with the author Charles Bukowski will know that he worked in a post office, and used that to glean inspiration and input for many of his works, just studying people. Following that lead, I've decided to become a bus driver. Yes, you read that right! I love driving 10-ton busses through the countryside because the movement allows me to ruminate on what I've just written or am just about to write. And the eavesdropping on conversations is brilliant fodder for character development. Some of the things you see and hear!

See, I told you it was a different year -- from creative neuroscience wonk to bus driver!

Anyway, stay tuned because I'll be sharing a lot more stories next year. And my New Year's resolution is -- once again -- to do more motorcycling. Best wishes to you and your family. Cheers! Stuart.

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Dec 22, 2023

That sounds like a great career move Stu, looking forward to reading your first piece of fiction next year. Perhaps try your hand at a short story first?

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