Cessnock author Patrick Chappell has certainly seen a lot of changes in the 84 years he has lived in the region.
And his latest tome, The Uphomers, is a fascinating tale of his family history that also charts the changing face of the Coalfields.
“It’s a story of my family, but it could be the story of any family,” Patrick said.
Patrick who started working as a miner at age 16, said the changes seen in that industry was given a strong focus in the novel.
“I’ve seen the industry change from the old pick and shovel days right up to mechanisation, and I think that in some ways you are born into a certain environment – dad was a miner, mum’s brothers were and all of my mates were. I don’t regret it at all because I saw things that you just couldn’t imagine. Things that really shape your life.”
The Uphomers also delves in to the area’s sacrifice given in both World Wars with Patrick saying he had family members who fought in both.
The book also looks at the changing face of parenthood over the years, with Patrick admiring that, as a youngster, he got up to things that would make most modern parents shriek in horror.
“The way kids played in those days was much different to today,” he said. “We played a lot outdoors because there was nothing to keep us indoors.
“We used to ride our pushbikes down to Blacksmiths Beach and camp overnight or Budgewoi, and places like that. It would take about three or four hours but it’s something that you just wouldn’t see thee days.”
Patrick said that the book would not have been possible without his daughter, who passed away in 2013.
“I started fiddling around with the idea of writing the great family saga many years ago and it probably never would have eventuated but my daughter died five years ago from lung cancer and I ended up writing it as a tribute to her,” he said.
“Once I got stuck into it when my daughter died, she died in September, I thought I’d get it finished for Christmas.
“Two days before, I got the first 20 books back from the printers just in time for Christmas morning.”.
Patrick Chappell will launch The Uphomers at Cessnock Library on Thursday 25 October. from 10.30am. The event is free and morning tea will be provided. To book, phone the library on 4993 4399.