When I was approached to write a series of books based on A Country Practice, I realised that it was over twenty years since my last visit to Wandin Valley. The memories came flooding back and it didn’t take me long to say ‘yes’.
Not that I thought the task would be easy. I know from bitter experience that turning an apple into an orange is never easy; what makes a good script is not necessarily going to make a good novel. Nevertheless, my years writing for Jim Davern at JNP had given me some of my happiest, most satisfying experiences as a scriptwriter. We had such a good team to work with on A Country Practice, we were all most definitely rowing the same boat, even freelance writers like myself felt part of it. Of course there were tears and tantrums but everyone gave it their best and we achieved two hours of quality television a week for more than a decade. Not bad.
And most of all, it was terrific to work on a show that – it seemed – the whole of Australia, indeed large parts of the known world, absolutely loved.
So going back to Wandin Valley – reading the old scripts, looking at DVDs of the very early shows – has been like visiting a family of half-forgotten friends I hadn’t seen for years and getting to know them all over again. I hope in writing the books that I have done them justice. It’s been a labour of love.