Bloke Raising Boys

Writing a novel isn’t easy. 40,000 words more or less, drawing on life events that are painful and difficult to reconcile. It takes time, skill and patience.

Writing a novel isn’t easy. 40,000 words more or less, drawing on life events that are painful and difficult to reconcile. It takes time, skill and patience.

But for Melbourne author Russell Miles, a fictionalised account of his journey raising three boys was the best outlet for the former Victorian State Child Protection Services officer to come to terms with the loss of his middle son, and to offer help to other blokes out their raising kids.

As Russell puts it, Bloke Raising Boys just ‘meanders like life’ – with a lens on three areas: work life, children and romantic entanglements, woven together to create a narrative.

Author Russell Miles with his three sons. 

He hopes readers will identify with many parts of the story, as it documents the mundane, the harrowing, and the push-pull of existence.   “People can see that their own experiences are perfectly fine. They might feel shame, but that’s okay. All experiences are different.”

Russell started writing the book a decade ago as he embarked on a writing course, encouraged to use his own life as the basis for a fiction. With a history of mental illness on both sides of his family, he decided that humour was the best recourse to deal with his own life situation.

Five years ago, he took a gap year and headed to Port Hedland in Western Australia and after draft No.7, the book was published by small Melbourne Printing house Sid Harta in 2015. Russell didn’t promote it and the bottom fell out of his world when his 22-year-old son Nick – took his life.

Nick had been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome and had also been impacted by the death of his mother – Russell’s first wife – when he was a young child.

Now Bloke Raising Boys has been given a new lease and will be relaunched by former Victorian State Attorney General Robert Clark in August. 

Last year, Russell presented his work to a Suicide Prevention Australia conference in Adelaide, and hopes that – for some blokes – it will become a comforting resource tool.

“When you feel a great loss, you do feel depths of despair and that’s normal,” he says. “You should be feeling despair and sadness because something horrible is happening to you and your family. Not soldiering on. Your teachers will give you understanding and we’ll be there with you. We can’t be in your place but we can travel along with you.

“The novel is, this is the everyman. I hope people will say, ‘there’s something in this, someone I know.”

You can buy a copy of Russell Miles’ book Bloke Raising Boys  direct from the publisher

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