If you want to be all fancy about it, Last Day of School is the publishing imprint of Glen Humphries, who has been a journalist for damn near three decades. Yes, he knows that makes him seem really old. He has won several awards for his work, which he wants to mention right up the top in case it gives him some credibility. They include the 2016 Australian International Beer Awards media prize, the 2017 national finalist in the Gourmand world food and drink writing awards (for The Slab) and the 2019 Ron Rathbone Local History Prize (for the true-crime thriller about the Kingsgrove Slasher).
He doesn’t really know why he’s talking about himself in the third person; maybe it’s so you’ll think he’s making so much money in this book-writing caper that he can afford to hire staff to write this for him.
He wishes that were true. As if there’s any money in being an author these days, certainly not when it comes to writing non-fiction anyway. So why does he do it? Well, because he thinks the books he writes need to exist. The starting point is always, “man, I wish someone would write a book about subject X”. Then, because it is clear that no-one else is going to do that, he steps up to the plate and does it himself.
The first book he wrote was The Slab, which is a funny look at the history of beer in Australia. Why no-one else thought to write that book first is still a mystery to him. From there he wrote a biography of convict turned brewer (and police constable, property tycoon, lady killer and very rich man) James Squire. The last beer-related books was an ebook called The Six-Pack, which he’s doubtful anyone has actually bought, and a limited-edition collection of his rantings from a now defunct blog Beer is Your Friend tagged Beer is Fun.
After that there was the collection of newspaper articles he’d written about Wollongong bands called Friday Night at the Oxford. He thought it was self-indulgent to put together that collection, but those in the local music scene liked it. Another music book followed; this one was about the Midnight Oil albums 10-1 and Red Sails in the Sunset – Sounds Like an Ending was its name.
The latest work is Night Terrors, the award-winning book about the Kingsgrove Slasher, a serial criminal from the 1950s who would climb into women’s bedrooms and cut them with a razor.
When he’s not writing books or working, he’s trying to find time to get through the massive shelves of unread books at home or is at a bookstore somewhere buying more of them.
He also lives in hope that, one day, some writers’ festival will invite him.