Author heading back to Port Fairy

PORT Fairy has always been a special place for author Larry Votava.

As a child Votava and his family would head down the coast from their Geelong home to spend their summer holidays camping in Port Fairy.

For 14 summers the Votava family would camp at the Gardens Caravan Park, a time that had a lasting effect on Votava.

“I have really strong and fond memories of Port Fairy and the summers we spent here,” Votava said.

“Camping was a popular thing for families to do back in the 1970s and Port Fairy was the perfect place.

“Our parents could let us just take off and they didn’t have to worry about us.

“I remember the East Beach and Pea Soup and the spinning wheels and procession down the street on New Year’s Eve.”

Now aged 55, Votava is coming back to Port Fairy as part of the town’s Ex Libris Book Fair on the weekend of September 5 to 7.

He has published his first novel, The Mahogany Ship, a fictional story about a young boy on his summer holidays searching for the fabled ship.

In the book a reward has been offered for anyone who can find the ship ensuring the young boy has to contend with treasure hunters and other weird and

wonderful characters.

The town the book is set in is Frigate Bay, a town that has an uncanny resemblance to Port Fairy.

“I must admit I find it hard to put the book into any certain category, it is fun, adventurous and a coming-of-age story in some ways.

“I think it appeals to a wide range of readers and I have feedback from people that it brings back memories for them of their own summer holidays,” Votava said.

The appearance at the Ex Libris will be the first major promotional engagement for Votava since becoming an author.

He said he was looking forward to seeing Port Fairy having only been back once since his childhood holidays.

“When I started writing the book four or five years ago I brought my parents to Port Fairy to have a look around.

“We certainly noticed some changes from those earlier days but essentially it was still very much the same, the vibe of thetown hadn’t changed much.”

Votava combines his time as an author with his work as a mineral exploration field assistant in the mining areas of Western Australia with Perth now his home.

He will be taking part in the Men Talking Books session on the Sunday of the Ex Libris festival along side Derek Guille, Roger Haldane and Matt Porter.

Getting the chance to talk about the role of men in literature as both authors and readers is something he is looking forward to.

He said given the strong presence of men in the mining industry workforce he had gained an insight into the reading habits of his workmates.

“As a rule women do probably read more than men do but I think men read more than might be thought.

“Spending long periods in those mining areas you can see that reading is an important part of everyday life for many of the men, it is certainly a valuable relaxation tool.”

The Mahogany Ship is on sale at Warrnambool Books and at online bookshops and will be for sale in Port Fairy during the Ex Libris weekend.