Posted by: Lisa Hill | September 1, 2022

Meet an Aussie Author: Michelle Scott Tucker

Michelle Scott Tucker, by permission

One of my favourite biographers is Michelle Scott Tucker (aka MST).

Michelle Scott Tucker is the author of Elizabeth Macarthur: A Life at the Edge of the World (Text 2018) – a biography of the woman who established the Australian wool industry (although her husband received all the credit). Elizabeth Macarthur (see my review) was shortlisted for the 2019 NSW State Library Ashurst Business Literature Prize and the 2019 CHASS Australia Book Prize.

In the words of historian Clare Wright, this bio brings Elizabeth Macarthur out from the long shadow of her infamous, entrepreneurial husband but it was more than that, it also brought other colonial women out of the shadows and told their story too. I like MST’s style and I liked her subject matter, so I’m pleased to bring news of her new book, a departure in life writing: from the biography of a 19th century woman to co-writing the memoir of a 21st century Torres Strait Islander man…

So far So Good, is co-written with Aaron Fa’aoso, a Torres Strait Islander film producer, director, screenwriter and actor. He is known for his roles in RAN: Remote Area Nurse, East West 101, The Straits, Black Comedy, and as the presenter of Strait to the Plate and Going Places with Ernie Dingo. Aaron is the executive director of his own film and television production company, Lone Star, which – among many other programs – created the documentary series Blue Water Empire, about the history of the Torres Strait Islands. Aaron is a board member of Screen Queensland, and belongs to several government and not-for-profit advisory committees. He holds a Masters Degree of Film Business, from the Australian Film, Television and Radio School.

This is the blurb for the book:

‘I am a descendant of the Samu and Koedal clans of Sabai Island. My people are warriors, but we are storytellers too.’
On his long path to success – from aspiring professional footballer to actor, director and producer – for every opportunity Aaron Fa’Aoso had, there were setbacks and heartache.
He was six when his father and grandfather both died. His fiercely proud mother and even fiercer grandmother dug deep to raise Aaron and his brothers. Belief in himself as a warrior – literally and metaphorically – made him into a fighter, for better and for worse.
A month into Aaron’s second marriage, and just as his acting career was flourishing, his new wife took her own life. In the dark years that followed, Aaron eventually found strength and meaning in his family and in his beloved Torres Strait community.
In So Far, So Good, he talks frankly about love, pain, making mistakes and finding happiness again, as well as the impacts of racism and the challenges of remote communities. A rich and vivid reflection on life told with generosity, humour, emotion and optimism.

Aaron Fa’aoso, photo credit Erica-Murray

‘Aaron doesn’t shy away from his most intimate feelings which makes this an honest and deeply affecting story. It’s a love letter to family, community and culture that is full of laugh-out-loud moments, heartbreaking lessons and the importance of what really matters in this life. Truly inspiring.’ Deborah Mailman
‘I don’t know anyone who’s lived such a life. This is a compelling read. Of a man who’s endured so much so early. Of a man connected to his people and fiercely proud of who he is. Who’s come out the other end an artist. A pure storyteller who, because of his trials, has found a compassionate voice full of dignity. Inspiring.’ Matt Nable

The publication of this exciting collaboration was the perfect time to approach MST to participate in Meet an Aussie Author....

I was born … and raised in suburban Melbourne, but always yearned for the country. Made a permanent treechange when I was in my 40s and can’t imagine I’ll ever live in a city again.

When I was a child I … was a tomboy who loved books and horses. Very little has changed.

I draw on my circle of friends for encouragement, inspiration and mentorship. They are smart and wise and funny and kind and I don’t know where I’d be without them.

I write at … my desk in the corner of the living area: it’s a small Edwardian dining table with a view across the garden and out to my front paddock.

I prefer to write when … no-one else is home but, as they say in the classics, you can’t always get what you want. So I write when I can, around the competing demands of the day job, and my family.

Research is … a hugely enjoyable adventure that invariably takes me to places I never expected.

I keep my published works … in a cardboard box – so as to have a small stash of copies to sell at speaking gigs. Like the magic pudding, the number of books in the box never seems to decrease.

On the day my first book was published, I … was at a horse show. A week later I had a wonderful launch party at an inner city pub. [LH: I know, I was there!]

At the moment, I’m writing … fiction. Too early to tell whether or not that’s a good idea.

When I’m stuck for an idea I … take the dog for a walk in the forest. When stuck for a word or phrase, I go to so that I can fail to find the right word there, too.

Why did you and Aaron Fa’Aoso choose to work together?

We were introduced by the literary agent who represents us both – Jacinta Di Mase. Aaron had some really powerful things he wanted to say; I had some ideas about using his personal story as a framework to discuss the wider issues he raised; and on that fairly flimsy basis we agreed to start work! No contract, no exchange of $$, just a mutual willingness to see what we might achieve.

What can you tell us about the difference (in terms of writing craft) between writing a biography and co-writing a memoir?

The memoir is written in the first person, from Aaron’s point of view – recreating Aaron’s voice on the page was crucial. In casual conversation, Aaron speaks like the regional Queenslander that he is, so capturing his distinctive verbal mannerisms and vocabulary was an important way of conveying the essence of the man. My biography of Elizabeth Macarthur, written in the third person by an omniscient narrator, has a very different voice indeed.

What were your best sources of information about the Torres Strait region, communities and cultures?

Aaron was the best source – as a culturally initiated man and a community leader his insights were extraordinary. But I also visited the region myself, and spoke at length with his mother, his adult children and with Aaron’s friends and relatives.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

You don’t necessarily have to write about what you know. For me, it’s been far more interesting to write towards what I want to know.

You can find out more about Michelle Scott Tucker at her website, and follow her on Twitter @MST_Writes

So far So Good is newly released by Pantera Press, (just in time for Father’s Day!) and available at all good bookstores.


  1. Great interview, Lisa, but then I’m not surprised given its interviewee. Love Michelle’s advice at the end – it’s brave. And I love her “when I’m stuck” answer too. I look forward to reading this book (though I’ve still to read Nathan’s… breathe, Sue!)

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree. It reminds me of Robyn Annear’s approach to writing history: her own curiosity is what drives the book along.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you Lisa!


    • You’re welcome!
      *wink* Now you owe me a scoop about your next book! even the tiniest hint about the novel you so tantalisingly mention will do…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ha! I’ve started a couple of new things and it’s way too soon to tell if any of them will grow wings. If one of them begins to flap about, I’ll be sure to let you know.


  3. Snap! This book just arrived in the post today as part of my First Nations subscription from Rabble Books here in Perth.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s great to hear that they’ve picked it up for the subscription.
      I know you’ve paid for it, but whenever a subscription book arrives in the post, it always feels like a present.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I think Sylvia Martin might be my favourite biographer (rushes to add: Not that EM isn’t a well written and important work!). I’m glad MST is now looking at fiction, it’s time we heard HER voice.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, the novel will always be my favourite form of reading, but we shall have to wait and see…


  5. ‘A Life At The Edge Of The World’ is a book that I enjoyed very much. I’m planning to visit the Macarthur farm (‘Elizabeth Farm’) in Parramatta on my next visit to Australia!


    • When is that going to be? Are you coming to Melbourne?


      • Sorry, not to Melbourne this time, just Sydney and Orange NSW. It will be in January and February 2023. But if you could recommend a good independent bookshop in Sydney (or Orange!) I’d be very grateful. Best wishes from Alsace, France.


        • A nice way to escape the winter!
          But alas, I can’t help you with recommendations… I haven’t been to Sydney for years and years. I know of bookshops in Sydney, but whether they are good in the way that I want a bookshop to be good I don’t know. (As in range, diversity of offerings, quality, service etc).
          Perhaps one of my readers can suggest somewhere?

          Liked by 1 person

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