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Author Michael Hyde

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by Belladonna (subscribe)
Loves going out and about, drinking coffee, eating chocolate, and writing about her adventures!
Published July 20th 2020
On writing, teaching and protesting the Vietnam War
Author Michael Hyde is not afraid to stand up for what he believes in.

When he was in high school, he began a 'rough and ready' newspaper that really ruffled the feathers of his teachers. In the 1960s, he vehemently opposed Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War. He helped to organise the Moratorium (the first mass movements of the protest against the Vietnam War) and was arrested many times. In 1967 he started a teaching degree at Monash University in Melbourne, but was expelled for life in 1970.

But Michael is a man who deeply cares. "The wrongs and ills of the world inspire me," he says. "I only have to be taken by a small spark to get me going." That small spark has burnt many times into a raging wildfire, with Michael not afraid to tackle some very hard-hitting themes in his novels.

This is Michael Hyde, writer and academic, fearless fighter with the fire still burning inside him, and one of the most fascinating Australian authors you'll ever meet.

Meet Michael, the fighter
Michael Hyde has been writing for over forty years. His experiences of protest during the Vietnam War and his expulsion from Monash University are all told in his memoir, All Along the Watch Tower, which made up a big part of his PhD on the social and political rebellions of 1960s Australia.

After Michael was expelled from Monash University, he was thrown out of the education department. At the time he was a student-teacher. To make ends meet, he drove a truck for four years. Eventually, he was allowed back into his teaching degree.

He began teaching at Footscray Technical College, where he discovered that many of the kids couldn't read or write. "Ninety per cent of the books I read to them came from England and the USA," Michael tells me. "I found this out when the kids asked me where they came from and that the stories didn't remind them of anyone they knew or any place they'd been to. Of course, this was the time when Australian culture was fighting back and I'm glad that I was one of the writers who took part in that early wave of Australian literature when the kids said to me that I should write stories for them. 'Go on MIke. You tell good stories. Write us some,' they'd tell me, and so it started. I also was sick of the lack of working-class characters in Australian literature for kids. And annoyed by the patronising literature for kids who either didn't like reading or who had difficulty with reading."

Michael the author
In Michael's young adult novels, the world of the tough, streetwise 14-year-old boys he taught comes alive. He deals with youth suicide in Max, boys searching for their dads in Hey Joe, and the not so very glamorous world of Australian Rules Football in Tyger Tyger and Footy Dreaming.

"I don't preach in my novels but I do have a progressive world view," he says. "And although some of my work could be seen as social realism there's always a dose of magical realism. And a meditation on life and death."

Michael loves to include sports in his stories. His latest book, co-written with his partner Gabrielle Ghoury and published this year by Ford Street Publishing, is Girls Change the Game, a choose your own adventure style book where the reader gets to choose what happens in the story.

But Michael still has a lot to say about political and social injustices. He is currently working on his latest novel about the First World War and a man who refused to enlist. The story is loosely based on an uncle of Michael's whom he never met but who died in 1917 in a German Prisoner of War camp. "I hate World War One," Michael tells me. "One of the worst, most disgusting wars, with so many deaths and where people were sent to war just so powerful nations could divide up the world amongst them. And I hate so many tales about World War One where the scoundrels are never knifed, and always about how sad and bad all the deaths were and how we should love Anzac Day. Despicable!"

Michael the teacher
"Teaching is one of the most honourable, toughest, most rewarding jobs I've ever done," Michael says. He developed writing cultures in the schools he taught in. For example, Footscray City College, a working-class school, won the prize for Australian schools' Young Writers' Collections. The school won first prize three times and second prize two times. "The prizes were usually won by the precious elite private schools," Michael says. "Until we came on the scene and blitzed them all. Ha!"

But for Michael, his greatest legacy as a teacher is turning kids and young adults (and oldies) onto writing. Some have gone on to be authors while so many have kept on writing.

Michael: father, grandfather, and drummer
Michael has four adult children and two grandchildren aged 2 and 3. When he's not busy with writing, he enjoys reading, working on his house in the bush outside Foster, Victoria; walking on beaches, sitting on the sand doing absolutely nothing, and playing with his hand drums-he has two djembes and a collection of congas and bongos. He also plays the didgeridoo.

Connect with Michael

You can connect with Michael via his webpage here.
You can also purchase your copy of Michael's latest book, Girls Change the Game, through Ford Street Publishing.

"Any kind of life is worth documenting. Of course in western societies, I suppose the belief would be that you have to be famous, a criminal, a rockstar, millionaire… But I'd be interested to read the memoir of a single mum who lives on the nineteenth floor of a housing commission block."

Michael Hyde

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