Book latest chapter of an interesting life

THE past week was Jane Becker's first as a published author - and the latest chapter in what has been a remarkable life.

The Launceston schoolteacher said her debut novel, Jack of Hearts, was a work she had "been threatening to write for years".

The book, which was was released last week, is based on real- life characters and events from her past.

Becker's own life story sounds too fanciful to create: a childhood spent on an island in the English Channel, a move to Australia, and stints in archaeology, forestry and public relations leading her to a teaching position at St Patrick's College.

She lives on a farm at Kimberley in the North-West, where the majority of her book was crafted after her teenage daughter succumbed to leukaemia in 2010.

"That was the catalyst for the book," she said.

"It made me realise that you can't put the things off that you want to do.

"You tell yourself do it when kids finish school, you'll do it when kids finish uni.

"But you could be hit by a bus tomorrow and that's the end of it."

Becker said Jack of Hearts was a Tasmanian reimagining of her first true love.

The story is set in the Tasmanian countryside, where a woman has relocated to fulfil her ambitions as a rural vet.

But she did not count on having a neighbour like Jack Doyle - an engaging larrikin who is haunted by grief and guilt from his service in Afghanistan.

Becker said the story explored the relationship society had with young men who had returned from conflict.

"Often a lot of these boys return and are overwhelmed by the society they have struggled to protect," she said.

"They struggle with what it means to be an efficient killer of other men.

"Does it mean that you have a darkness in you? Or are you just a good shot?"

Becker moved to Australia with her parents in the 1960s after growing up on Jersey Channel Island.

She studied archaeology in Melbourne ("it sounds really glamorous, but it involves a lot of consultancy") and dabbled in teaching and journalism before moving to Tasmania in 1989.

Six months ago she stuck a deal with Xlibris - a self-publishing, print-on-demand company - and last week began receiving orders.

She said it was surreal to see her name on the cover.

"A big part of this was the hope that I could encourage others to put their stories down onto paper," she said.

"I know I've got a couple more in me yet."

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