Ro Evelyn wanted to capture a part of the Tasmanian community that is not often written about.
Evelyn, a pen name, is set to launch her latest novel The Volunteer this week.
The Volunteer follows the journey of volunteer ambulance officer Andrew Sutton and his life in an isolated Northern Tasmanian town.
Evelyn described the story as “very Tasmanian”.
“I was looking for something a little different in Tasmanian life that I thought hadn’t been looked at much,” she said.
“I just wanted it to be a celebration of our state. I think Tasmanians will relate to this story.”
It took her about four years to research and write.
“I had to overcome my own perceptions about it,” Evelyn said of researching the volunteer ambulance field.
“My initial reaction was ‘Why would anyone want to do this without getting paid?’.
“Then I saw the people involved and what they give and certainly what they get in return, and it was inspirational.
“This is very much community people playing a vital part in their own community.”
Evelyn said her research led her to a deeper understand of Tasmania’s reliance on volunteers in the emergency services.
She said there were about 600 volunteer ambulance officers in the state, boosting the 200-300 paid staff roles.
When it came to writing the book and telling the story of Andrew Sutton, Evelyn said it was, first and foremost, a journey of survival.
“I didn’t want to focus on the blood and the gore, but the human side, and I think many Tasmanians will relate to that,” she said.
Evelyn, who now calls Scottsdale home but has lived across the state, said she has been writing for “some time”.
“It’s almost like an essential part of my make-up,” she said.
For The Volunteer, Evelyn found a writing guide in fellow Tasmanian novelist Rohan Wilson, author of Vogel award-winning book The Roving Party.
The connection came through a mentorship program from the Tasmanian Writing Centre.
“Rohan is such a tremendous guy,” she said.
“It was just an amazing experience to work with him, and I was very much the learner.
“His expertise came in handy. The readers will decide if I managed it but, the challenge was getting more in there. If you want to have a deeper look at it there’s a lot more (to the story) I think.”
The Volunteer will be launched in Hobart on Friday by Volunteer Ambulance Officers Association Tasmania secretary Dianne Coon. It will be sold in Launceston at Petrarch’s Bookshop.