My Story

Below is an article that appeared in a local paper  about, well, me. I met Nick, a Journo with the Great Lakes Advocate, through a writing competition we both got involved with, for local school kids. Long story short, he thought my story, would make for some interesting reading,..so here it is, and thanks Nick for a great article!  z

A story of science fiction and self-discovery

Nicholas Brooks

Garry Dean was just 23 when he found out he was going to lose his sight.
Referred to an eye specialist after his optometrist spotted a small abnormality, he was told he had choroideremia – a rare genetic eye disorder – and would one day go blind.
Coming from nowhere, the news was devastating to the young man.
“I remember the trip home on the bus,” Garry said.

“I was like a zombie.”

Up until that point, all his most cherished past-times had been visually-orientated.
Given a telescope as a child by his older brother, Garry quickly discovered a love for peering out into the night sky, observing planets and globular clusters.
This, combined with the experience of seeing Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, ignited a lifetime passion for science fiction and all things space-related.

“It took me completely out of where I was,” Garry remembered.
“It opened up my mind to space travel.”

With his imagination being fed by the novels of Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov and other fantasy and sci-fi writers, Garry began drawing and painting other worlds – a pursuit he’d continue through his adolescence and into his 20s. He also took his first tentative steps as a writer, again turning his attention to the outer reaches of our universe.

But all that stopped when he received his fateful diagnosis.
Not knowing when he was supposed to lose his sight, Garry pushed it to the back of his mind and decided it wasn’t going to happen. Aside from his parents, he also chose not to tell anyone.

“It was the fear of the unknown.”

But it was always in the back of his mind, and reflecting on it now, Garry believed it sapped him of his creative desires.
Working in a busy camera store in Sydney, he had plenty of things to keep him occupied, but it was here where he discovered there was no escaping the specialist’s diagnosis.
In his early 30s he found he could no longer read the fine print on the camera boxes.
Again, he kept the discovery to himself, until at 34 his eyesight declined to the point where he could no longer do the job.

Telling his friends and co-workers actually brought him an incredible sense of relief, and with his then partner, he decided to hit the road and see what he could of the world while it was still possible. Together the pair spent the next few years travelling around Australia, Europe and the United States – a time Garry remembered fondly.
But it was after he returned, when he and his partner separated and his vision became increasingly impaired, that he began to struggle.

“There’s a point where you have to give things up, and that starts to take its toll,” he said.

At 40, after a number of years dealing with depression and the reality of going blind, Garry rediscovered his creativity. Still obsessed with space and science fiction, he realised there was nothing stopping him accessing his imagination.

“I thought I still want to create, I can just write this stuff,” he said.

Using voice-recognition software, Garry began to write fiction.
A slow and at times frustrating craft to learn, he nonetheless credited it as one of the things that helped lead him out of the dark place he was in.
The other thing that helped him was people.

Moving back to Forster, a place he’d first come years earlier, he joined two groups.
The first was the Forster Tuncurry Vision Impaired Support Group; the second was the Great Lakes Writers. Both had a profound effect on his life. Being around people going through the same challenges not only helped Garry come to terms with his own situation, it allowed him to help others.
That proved invaluable.

“Before that I was the only person in the world going blind,” he said. “But I ended up helping other people – there was no better therapy. They know what you’re going through. You’re looking for your sunglasses and it takes you half an hour.”

Joining the writers group was similarly beneficial.
Once a slow, isolated pursuit, getting together regularly with fellow writers not only gave him an enjoyable social outlet, it provided him with a lot of motivation.
Still a self-professed ‘space-nut’, he’s now had over a dozen stories published online, with his latest set to feature in an upcoming edition of respected science fiction journal Skywriters Anthology. And he’s got no plans to slow down.

“I won’t stop now,” he said. “I get so much enjoyment out of it.”

Reflecting on his journey, Garry sees it – like the character in a good novel – as one of self-discovery.

“People ask me, would I roll the dice again if there was a chance I wouldn’t lose my sight? And the answer is of course I would, but would it make me a better person?” he said. “I’m not sure it would. I have so much more compassion because of what I’ve gone through.”

Great Lakes Advocate Aug 2019

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Dead trees and ink

An exciting thing happened to me the other day…

I received my dead trees and ink version of Antipodean SF issue 250. This special edition anthology, features 50+ stories, including one of mine, “Special Delivery”.  This marks 21 years of Antipodean SF, run by its dedicated editor, Ion Newcombe. The mag has been a springboard for a lot of writers over the years, including myself. My first published story, “The Visitor”, appeared in AntiSF back in 2001. And now it hosts my first story to appear in print. Pretty happy about thtat(: : Happy Birthday Ion!

To grab a copy, follow the links below. All proceeds will go to support the Australian Science Fiction Foundation’s Fan Fund.

Print version http://www.lulu.com/shop/http://www.lulu.com/shop/ion-newcombe/antipodeansf-issue-250/paperback/product-24123113.html

E bok, Kindle, PDF etc here https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/941310?fbclid=IwAR19_sKMBTe0JCsvmkHkW048fXgbqIDWdm8SnBi8P7NZ6JsE6WvV3B716kY

Skywriters Anthology 2019

Something I’ve learnt from this writing gig, is the value of patience and perseverance… Back in 2017, I wrote a short SF story called The Real Deal. At the time, I submitted it to a major SF mag, without success. So I put it on the back burner, knowing I would come back to it later with fresh eyes. Some stories you have an affinity for, and I certainly felt an affinity for the main character in this one. In mid 2018, I heard about the Skywriters Anthology, through someone in my local writers group, thanks Niko The theme seemed a perfect fit for the real deal, so after a little tweak here and there, I submitted it in January 2019. By April I thought, oh well, another one bites the dust. Then out of the blue, in May, I got the email, any writer likes to see… Your story has been accepted. The Skywriters Anthology will include some 50 stories, and will appear in print and other formats in November 2019. There will be launch events, and even the possibility of royalties. It’ll be my first story to appear in an official print publication. So in the end The Real Deal, turned out to be a big deal for me:-)

Skywriters website https://bigskiescollaboration.wordpress.com/projects/skywriters/anthology/

Special Delivery

Been a while since I posted, but not for lack of writing! Have a few stories looking for a home. Latest is a little Flash fiction called “Special Delivery” which appeared in the 250th Anni very issue of Antipodean SF, celebrating 21 years of this great Mag. Hats off to the editor Ion for such dedication to Spec Fiction. This issue will also be available in print form, making this my first foray into trees and ink. For now you can catch the story here:  https://antisf.com/the-stories/special-delivery

Dickinson Literary Comp

Well, a long time between posts. Been a big crazy year…with good and bad stuff happening…guess that life. But Ive kept the writing ticking along and managed to win second place in the Dickinson Memorial Literary comp, run by Braille House in QLD Australia. I found out about it from someone at my writers group with only 2 weeks to submit. The end result was a story called “The Painter”. You might say its slightly autobiographical, although that wasnt my intention. I hope to put a copy up here or  someone where.

Anyway, farewell to 2018…bring on the New one!

Tinker’s Curss

Tinker’s Curs is my latest story for AntipodeanSF. Its been a busyy first half of 2018 with a house move under way and well, life in general…so writing has taken a bit of a back seat. Interesting how you get out of the swing of things, and takes some work to get back into writing mode…or the “Writing Habit”, as they say.

I have stories on the boil and waiting on one more to get published before I self publish a short story collection as an Ebook through Amazon. Just going through the process of putting the collection together now, including some artwork. Will be a fun excersise, if nothing else.

Requiem

Requiem is my first story to appear in a pro market magazine. At 250 words, it’s also my shortest. Getting published in a pro, or paying market magazine, has been a personal writing goal of mine for some time.… So I’m a happy boy 
You can read the story in the archives of Daily Science Fiction. It will also form part of a short story collection, which I will self publish through Amazon, Hopefully in mid 2018.