Tim Elliott’s Farewell to the Father: from article to published memoir

Farewell to the Father cover

Fairfax journalist Tim Elliott’s memoir, Farewell to the Father, will be published in April. The gorgeous cover speaks to the richness, power and detail of Elliott’s recollections of growing up with his brilliant but manic-depressive and suicidal father, Max. It is a book that explores the pain and joy of a son’s love for his father, and of the son’s love for his own children when Tim becomes a father himself.

I am deeply thrilled to have helped Tim’s story evolve from its origin as a Sydney Morning Herald feature article to its publication as a memoir.

The reader response to the article was overwhelming, and Tim knew he was finally ready to write his story. But how to move from a 3,000 word piece to a work of perhaps 70-80,000 words?

A mutual friend referred him to me, and I helped him develop the chapter outline and clarify the arc of the story for his book proposal. Publisher interest in the proposal was extremely strong. Pan Macmillan won the right to publish Tim’s book at auction, and Tim set to work.

Nearly 18 months and several drafts later, the result of Tim’s fearless and tireless efforts is one of the best memoirs I’ve read. I hope it gets the attention and the readership it deserves.

Tim Elliott will be a guest of the Sydney Writers Festival at two events: My Family & Other Obstacles on Sat 21st May 6.00-7.00pm (with ABC Radio’s Richard Glover), and The Legacy of Family on Sun 22nd May 11.30am-12.30pm.

PS: Manuscript development and book proposal development are two of the services for writers that I offer. Please get in touch if you think you’d like to work with me, or sign up for my monthly email newsletter about improving your writing and getting published.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. This is the best memoir I have read. I had to stop reading at times as it was heart breaking and had me in tears. I started it yesterday and finished it this morning, and then drove up to Maleny in the pouring rain to buy another copy! Will give it to someone.

    I, too, am working on a book on my father, who was a famous pioneer aviator. I have had lots of articles published on his flying career. It began as a biography but is now turning into part-memoir. I have all the material – just trying to piece it together. Mental illness cursed my family as well. My father may have been a celebrated aviator and pilot not only of Kingsford Smith’s era but in the flying boat era in the 1940s, but there is nothing to celebrate about the last 47 years of his life. In the words of my mother, “he was a bastard of a father and a bastard of a husband”.

    Tim’s book has really inspired me. It is also a very important book with his courage to talk about the mental illness that has ravaged his family. It deserves a wide readership for sure.

    1. Hi Mary,
      Thanks for stopping by and leaving this marvellous comment. Tim’s book really is compulsive reading. He’s a beautiful writer, and while I agree with you that there’s plenty of heartbreaking moments in his story, I also found myself smiling and laughing at some of the situations he describes or his playful way with words. I think this book would be a wonderful gift for anyone whose family has struggled with mental health issues, and for any aspiring memoirist. I will feature a Q & A with Tim in my next email newsletter later this week, if you would consider signing up on the home page. Good luck with your own writing project — Virginia

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