Heather J Hackett

From typewriters to audiobooks – and the birth of an anthology


When I was in college, I had a ghastly orange portable typewriter and a humungous supply of Tippex correcting papers. Remember those? A typewriter was almost required equipment for any self-respecting student with essays to churn out. Just as essential as text books in my opinion, because the personal computer was just a fantasy back in those days. And no one had even dreamed of the concept of audiobooks.

Of course, you could always write your essays out in longhand, but there were certainly extra brownie points for those who tried to make the tutors’ jobs easier. Yet it was surprising how many of my friends and fellow students didn’t have a trusty typewriter, or worse, had one but couldn’t type more using than two fingers at a time.

The importance of learning to type

I learned to touch type in year 10 at high school, or 4th form as we called it back then. Sounds like a very late occurrence in our current digital climate, but back in 1973 it was considered progressive. It was widely known that many of us hated compulsory Wednesday sport afternoons, and would do almost anything to get out of it. So, they offered us an alternative – spend the afternoon at the local TAFE college learning to type. It was one of the best and most useful things I ever learned in high school, much more so than any algebraic formula or geometry theorem.

For three hours every week for 14 weeks, we sat in a grid, behind huge ancient mechanical typewriters and punched designated keyboard sequences – ASDF LKJH ASDF LKJH ASDF LKJH – in endless repetitive robotic rhythms, and in time to music. Mindless? Soul destroying? Blisteringly boring? Absolutely!

An unexpected source of income

But it served me well. Because once I hit the hallowed halls of a residential college in the grounds of the University of New South Wales, that laboriously-learned skill became a welcome source of supplementary income. For $3 per thousand words, you too could submit an almost spotless (thanks to the Tippex), perfectly spaced and formatted essay. I spent so much time preparing manuscripts for my fellow residents that I ignored my own coursework. Earning beer and snack money was more important than passing exams or handing in my own submissions on time. If you’d had to eat the food they served up in the dining hall, you would have understood.

Digital evolution

And now, he we are, living in an age where even one-year-olds have their own iPads, and know which way to swipe and stab to get their favourite game to unfold on a screen. I guess they won’t be needing typing lessons in high school.

And I have also become a gadget freak. As an author, I’m on a digital treadmill, going from smartphone to smart tablet to laptop as the creative muse dictates, depending on which app I need to access to get the words out of my brain and onto the digital pages of my next book or article. How grateful I am that I learned to type all those years ago.

But things are still changing and evolving faster and faster. Now we have even greater range of digital accessories to lighten the workload – speech to text software and audiobooks.

Birth of The Box Under the Bed

Back in July this year, I entered one of Dan Alatorre’s WordWeaver Writing Contests – and won third place for my story, a glimpse into the life of an abused woman, entitled Mind Games. Because of this contest, I was invited to include my story in an ‘anthology of scary stories’ with a group of 20 other very talented bestselling, award-winning and first-time authors from around the globe. Together, and with a lot of help from Dan, we put together a book – The Box Under the Bed – and released it on Amazon just in time for Halloween.

It’s not easy managing such a large group of authors, all with their own tastes and predilections about what the cover should look like, how the stories should be arranged, or where and how it should be marketed. But Dan created a private Facebook page especially for that purpose, making it super simple to toss ideas around in the group and gauge each other’s responses to the endless list of considerations.

Audiobook on the way!

Since then, The Box Under the Bed has held its own very nicely on the Amazon charts, in both eBook and paperback formats, even hitting #1 bestseller for a short time. And now, drumroll please, it is being made into an audiobook, narrated by an extremely talented voice artist, Lia Frederick.

The bottom line? Many people have worked long and hard to get this anthology into the hands of our combined dedicated readers. It’s worth checking out, not only if you’re a fan of scary stories. You might just find your next favourite author lurking between the covers.

And if you’re a fan of audiobooks, then stay tuned for its release. And let’s face it, they allow us to get through a lot more reading by just listening.

The launch will be publicised on my Facebook author page https://www.facebook.com/heatherhackett.author/

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