Janeen O’Connell wanted to bring to light a dark “family secret” she says has been kept too long.
The Strathtulloh author recently released her first novel, No Room for Regret, which is based on stories of four of her Tasmanian convict ancestors.
“I was researching family history and discovered four convict ancestors,” O’Connell said.
“They’re all on my grandfather’s side of the family and, sadly, they were kept buried, literally and figuratively for more than 200 years. No one knew anything about them.
“I decided that they’d been buried long enough, so I started writing the book.”
O’Connell, a retired Kurunjang Secondary College teacher, said she spent two years researching and a year writing the book about her ancestors James Cullen, Elizabeth Bartlet, James Tedder and James Blay.
Her descendents were convicted of crimes such as extortion and theft – one was sentenced to death for stealing a pair of boots.
Upon their release, they went on to apply their skills as trades people in a new colony on Norfolk Island.
“I’m pleased that I found them,” O’Connell said.
“I’m not proud of the crimes they committed, but I’m proud of the contributions that they made to society once they were emancipated … like helping to build homes, buildings and establish farms to feed a new colony in Norfolk Island.”
O’Connell’s next book, about the women in her family, is scheduled to be released later this year.