Tucker is an open book

By Liam Nash

“Get in, buckle up and hang on.”

Those are words of advice from award-winning Cobram author Clancy Tucker when detailing his 11th published fiction - Better than sliced bread.

A sequel to Kick-Ass Tyler, the 499-page novel, put together in less than half a year, features Mr Tucker’s favourite heroine he has created to date and was drenched with topical themes challenging the traditionalist way of male thinking, as well as various other motifs.

“It is full of what I call ‘clanger comments’, which will hang in peoples minds and make them think,” he said.

“It was very complicated for me to make it simple for the reader, but I don’t mind that – it is just one of the challenges of writing.”

For Mr Tucker, who has won three gongs at the Australian National Literary Awards, the four-month period in which it took to finish the book screamed `normality’ as he seldom wasted time `dilly dallying’ when writing.

On top of his 11 books, for the past eight and a half years Mr Tucker has interviewed more than 850 people for his daily blog as a gap filler for when he was not fashioning a new written work.

One particular interview which burnt brightest in his memory was his conversation via penned letters with an inmate placed on death row for two counts of first-degree murder at the infamous “Angola” - Louisiana State Prison.

After hearing the prisoner’s struggles about living as a caged animal, inside what was commonly referred to as America’s bloodiest prison, Mr Tucker managed to send one of his books to the jail and into the man’s cell, which would eventually land in the hands of his neighbouring inmate.

Living next door was actor Glenn Ford, who had spent 30 years at Angola before being handed Mr Tucker’s Gunnadeh Hero, spending two more days incarcerated with the book before being released as the longest serving death row inmate in the United States to be fully exonerated before death.

But there was much more to Mr Tucker than words on a page.

Aside from his key-tapping tendencies, the 69-year-old who claimed to think through the eyes of a 32-year-old, is also an established photographer, producer of bush poetry and venturer, having lived in four separate countries throughout his life.

From using reverse psychology to teach children in the United Kingdom how to read to parading as a human rights activist, the inquisitive and perceptive nature of Mr Tucker has led him on many a journey across international waters simply to discover and capture.

Admitting to falling in love with Thailand on first visiting in 1973, it was the bustle and clamour which kept the nation’s heart beating which seduced Mr Tucker, who then chose to spend years of his life as an inhabitant of the Land of Smiles.

Those who would travel alongside him were often miffed at how the indigenous locals would warm to Mr Tucker in an instant, magnetised by his charm and approachable nature.

“Where I go is driven by my camera, and travel has made me a better human and a better writer,” he said.

“I have always said that animals, kids and those who don’t speak your language can tell in an whether you are cruel or kind.”

Now returning to his own slice of South-East Asian paradise for a six-week stint, Mr Tucker’s trip should garner plenty of stories about the very human encounters he experiences along the way – as well as seeing a whale in the flesh, which ranks astonishingly high on his to-do list.