INTERVIEW with Maltese-Australian author Rupert Grech

_MG_1559We recently had the opportunity of interviewing our Maltese-Australian author and Melitensia writer Rupert Grech, whose second book Musings and Mutterings of a Maltese Misanthrope was released by Hope and Life Press in September. Here is the interview for your enjoyment.

1) When did you first start writing?

Must have been when I was about three years old and my mother tried to teach me to write my name. No, just kidding. Actually, I had to do a lot of writing of reports, policies, programs, submissions and that kind of thing while working as a school principal, albeit it being more factual, rather than creative writing. Sometimes, however, it did have to be a little on the creative side of things, if you catch my drift. Often the writing had to be clear, articulate and persuasive. While at one small, regional school in the countryside, I had to write a piece every week in the school newsletter. This newsletter was as close as the town had to a local newspaper and was read by almost the entire adult population of a few hundred. I wrote in that newsletter for six years and I believed that in trying to make it interesting every week, I also honed my writing skills to some degree. They even had a mailing list of expats to whom they sent the newsletter. When I left that school to take up a principal position at a larger school, I received a lovely letter from a regular reader; fan mail! I would also get regular feedback about my contributions from the locals. I also wrote a weekly column in a local newspaper in the Blue Mountains area for a couple of years where I reviewed live bands that performed in my hometown. My first attempt at purely creative writing was when I started on the first draft of my first book Stories My Parents Told Me: Tales of Growing Up in Wartime Malta. That was around 2011, I think, and the book was published in 2013.

2) What is the story behind your latest book of satire, humor and reminiscences Musings and Mutterings of a Maltese Misanthrope?

A grumpy, middle-aged man moves house and during the process gets his old record player working again, after it had been inoperable for many years. While listening to cherished LP’s of his youth and polishing off an entire bottle of good red wine, certain songs and record albums retrieve dear recollections of formative events in the past and memorable people known. Meanwhile, funny and frustrating days keep occurring in his contemporary life that often expose a very Maltese set of sensibilities.

3) What motivated you to become an author?

The reason I started writing was to record a story that my mother had told me about when she was a young girl in Malta during World War II. I always thought it was an amazing story, but when I told it to people, I rarely got the reaction from them that I thought the story deserved. I figured that I must not be doing the story justice by narrating it orally, so I decided to flesh it out and write it down as a short story. I encouraged my parents to tell me other stories about their childhood during the war in Malta and wrote them down as well. It is very satisfying these days to hear people say how moved they were by my mother’s story as this was the original motivation for writing it down.

4) What is the greatest joy for you in writing?

Following on from the last answer, by far the greatest joy I experience is when I receive feedback from readers who tell me they were moved to tears or were made to laugh, or just plain enjoyed the writing enough to contact me and thank me. That is just great and I love it when that happens.

5) Do you recall the first story you ever wrote? What was it like for you?

The first time I started writing creatively was cathartic for me. I had been thinking about all the stories my parents had told me for some time. Then, one day during my Christmas holidays, I woke up and decided that I would make a start by writing them down. I became obsessed. I wrote all day and most of the night, only taking short breaks to eat, sleep and take a walk to clear my head from time to time. I wrote the first draft of all seven short stories of my first book in six days. Even now, when I start a short story, I do not stop until the first draft is finished and find that I lose all sense of time. Later, I revise it many times over until I am happy with it.

6) Where did you grow up? How did that influence your writing?

I grew up in the poorer neighborhoods of inner Sydney as a very young child and later we moved out to the working class suburbs of far western Sydney. Ironically, I moved back to the inner city when I attended university. I suppose everyone who writes has their background reflected in their writing to some degree. This last book, my second one, certainly illustrates a lot of personal foibles, values and attitudes.

7) How do you spend your time when you are not writing?

I like travelling and reading. I also play guitar, bass and sing. Mostly, I have a very relaxed lifestyle these days. At night I like to listen to music.  When I am living in Valletta, Malta, I go out several times a week and listen to the plethora of live music available there.

8) What do you read for pleasure?

I like to read a wide variety of books. Both fiction and non-fiction. I enjoy reading biographies and memoirs of people with extraordinary lives and I enjoy short stories as well. I just finished reading Fortress Malta- An Island Under Siege 1940-43 by James Holland;  I am currently reading Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis and have just ordered a book of short stories by an author I have been wanting to read for a long time: Where I Live Now by Lucia Berlin.

9) What are your plans for the future? 

Well, doing more of the things I enjoy: travelling, reading, playing and listening to music. I am considering a trip to Japan next year, a place I always wanted to visit. I am also thinking of tackling something other than short stories in my next book; possibly a novel or novella. And continuing to spend each year between Valletta, Malta and the Blue Mountains in Australia.

INTERVIEW with Maltese-Australian author Rupert Grech

5* review for Musings and Mutterings of a Maltese Misanthrope

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I bought the book Musings and Mutterings of a Maltese Misanthrope by Rupert Grech to read on a plane journey. My one mistake, however, was to open the book for a look prior to packing for my journey. Once I opened the book and read a page, I found that I could not put it down! I sat and read the whole of it, cover to cover. I found the writing quite fluid, very entertaining. It was like sitting and having a chat. Thoroughly enjoyable. Highly recommended – Janet Bayes.

5* review for Musings and Mutterings of a Maltese Misanthrope

NEW RELEASE: Musings and Mutterings of a Maltese Misanthrope

musings-and-mutterings-front-coverA grumpy middle-aged man moves house and gets his old record player working. Listening to cherished LP’s of his youth while polishing off a whole bottle of good red, certain songs retrieve dear recollections of formative events in past times and memorable people known. Funny and frustrating days keep occurring in his contemporary life, often exposing a very Maltese set of sensibilities. Peculiar days are narrated in poignant, often funny, but thoroughly engaging short stories.

Musings and Mutterings of a Maltese Misanthrope is an illustrated anthology of 13 short stories in the Melitensia genre by the Maltese Australian author Rupert Grech. The humorous illustrations in the book are also the work of the author. Provoking heartfelt laughter with satire like George Washingmachine, Procedures Rule, Okay!, Crap Day, Big Weekend; The (re)Gifted Ones, or moving reminiscences with A Girl Called Jo, Music and Nostalgia; Rugby League and the Lido Shuffle, and A Cafe, Hank Williams and a Pretty Girl among others, this book effectively captures the unique Maltese sense of humor and appeals to resident Maltese and expatriates alike, as well as anyone wishing to understand more about Malta and its people. Musings and Mutterings of a Maltese Misanthrope is available in paperback and ebook editions from Amazon, directly from the publishers Hope and Life Press, and other booksellers.

EARLY REVIEWS

“Thoroughly enjoyable. All these stories evoke real life situations. A great read” – Kath Compton, Public Service Medal recipient.

“Love these stories. They always make me laugh” – Louise Taylor, director of Preschool Education.

“Loved the stories. They capture that quirky Maltese sense of humour and occasion, which is amusing and entertaining. Anyone with Maltese parents will instantly connect with the anecdotes captured in this book” – Stevon Orlando, artist, education executive.

“Very entertaining stories. They have a bit of everything in them: history, comedy, love, families. A very pleasant read” – Sandra McManus, avid reader.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

_MG_1559Rupert Grech is a first generation Maltese-Australian born of post-war immigrants to New South Wales, Australia, from the small Mediterranean island of Malta. In childhood, he lived in the low rent suburbs of inner Sydney, eventually moving to the west of the city. Grech graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and a Diploma in Education from the University of Sydney. He also played in A-Grade Rugby League and was selected to try out for one of the professional clubs. Teaching being at heart, Grech became a highly acclaimed principal of two regional schools in low socioeconomic areas and under his leadership, educational innovations resulted in a greater than 50 percent reduction of the student discipline suspension rate and over 30 percent increase in student enrollment in three years. Grech is the author of the popular book Stories My Parents Told Me: Tales of Growing Up in Wartime Malta. At present he spends time living alternately in Valletta, Malta and in the Blue Mountains, New South Wales, while trading equities on the Australian Stock Exchange, developing property and writing.

NEW RELEASE: Musings and Mutterings of a Maltese Misanthrope

OUT SOON: Musings and Mutterings of a Maltese Misanthrope

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OUT SOON: Musings and Mutterings of a Maltese Misanthrope

OUT SOON: Musings and Mutterings of a Maltese Misanthrope

NEWS: Maltese-Australian author Rupert Grech now affiliated with Hope and Life Press

_MG_1559Hope and Life Press is pleased to welcome on board the Maltese-Australian author Rupert Grech, with his new nonfiction book of short stories titled Musings and Mutterings of a Maltese Misanthrope. The book, which forms part of our expanding Melitensia genre, shall be released in paperback and ebook editions by HLP later this year.

Rupert Grech is a first generation Maltese-Australian writer and equities trader, born of post-war immigrants to New South Wales (NSW), Australia, from the small Mediterranean island of Malta. During childhood, he lived in the low rent suburbs of inner Sydney, eventually moving to the west of the city. Grech graduated with both a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and a Diploma in Education from the University of Sydney, during which time he also played in the A-grade Rugby League and was selected to try out for one of the professional clubs. However, instead of pursuing rugby league, he preferred to teach in the country region of NSW. Grech returned to school and completed an Honors degree in Human Geography at the University of New England – Armidale, with his thesis addressing the issue of chain migration between Malta and Australia.

After teaching Business Studies, Legal Studies, and Geography in schools for five years, Grech visited Malta for the first time, learning about his heritage first-hand. He returned to Australia where he owned and managed a lunchtime cafe in the Blue Mountains. Teaching being at heart, Grech went back to the profession and became a highly acclaimed principal of two regional schools in low socioeconomic areas. His leadership, along with the implementation of educational innovations together with his staff team in one school, resulted in a greater than 50% reduction of the student discipline suspension rate and over 30% increase in student enrollment in three years. Grech also started farming a 114-acre beef cattle property, during which time he repeatedly attained the highest prices for his cattle at regional sales. He later developed the farm and subdivided it into smaller acreages and building residences. He also performed as lead vocalist and played the guitar or bass in various bands. In addition, he served as radio announcer on a commercial radio station.

Rupert Grech is the author of the book Stories My Parents Told Me: Tales of Growing Up in Wartime Malta, a collection of short stories based on actual events that happened during World War II. At present, Grech spends his time living alternately in Valletta, Malta and the Blue Mountains, NSW, while trading equities on the Australian Stock Exchange, developing property, and writing.

NEWS: Maltese-Australian author Rupert Grech now affiliated with Hope and Life Press