Former Finley local becomes international author

By Daniel Hughes

A love of literature fostered in primary school has inspired Sue Tyrrell in her career and passions over many years.

The former Southern Riverina News journalist has had a successful career in media and marketing, and can now add successful novelist to her long list of skills.

Ms Tyrrell - the daughter of Finley's Gordon and Marion Tyrrell - released her first novel last month, under the pen name Susan Mackie.

Charlie’s Will has sold well in Australia, with Amazon also reporting reasonable sales in the USA, Canada, New Zealand and Germany.

Ms Tyrrell said her love of literature and creative writing started as a student at Yannathan Public School, and continued when the family relocated to Finley.

“My love of reading and desire to write really began in Yannathan - we had a tiny library at the school and I read everything I could get my hands on,” she said.

“We moved to a larger irrigation farm at Finley, in time to commence Year 5 at Finley Primary School.

“The Tyrrell farm is about 5km out on the Berrigan Rd called ‘Tyrone'. My brother, Peter Tyrrell, and wife Su now farm there are are still dairying.

“I then attended Finley High School from 1975 to 1980.”

In her first year out of school Ms Tyrrell was the cadet journalist at the SRN, and then pursued the career in writing further in Melbourne and Sydney.

“I was only at the SRN for about a year. I transitioned to Melbourne trade press (with a D Grading) and was sub-editing there by the time I was 21.

“My love of writing drew me to journalism, although journalism and creative writing are quite different disciplines.

“After a few years in Melbourne I transferred to Sydney, moving from publishing to tourism after I married an Austrian chef.”

In the years since leaving Finley, Ms Tyrrell completed a Diploma of Applied Journalism, a Diploma of Business Management and a Diploma of Business Marketing.

After many years in communications and small business, she returned to publishing in 2010 as editor of Travelling in Australia Magazine, before securing a contract with Gold Coast Tourism for three years.

“We built a tourism resort in the Barrington Tops in the early 1990s, Hookes Creek Forest Resort, on 2000 acres of timber and rainforest,” she said.

“We operated there for five years, then sold and re-invested in further accommodation and a restaurant in the local town of Gloucester.

“I edited and published a tourism magazine called Escape Magazine, working closely with the local council and other tourism operators to market into Newcastle and Sydney quite successfully.

“We have two daughters - Jasmine who is now 28 and Emily who is now 26 - which prompted us to leave the Barrington region in 2000 and moved to the Gold Coast for a choice of schools for our girls. We developed real estate and coffee shop businesses.”

Ms Tyrrell now works for private enterprise in Warwick, and finds time to write as often as she can.

She is already writing her second novel, which she hopes to launch before the end of the year.

Ms Tyrrell's pen name acknowledges her grandmother Harriet Mackie, who arrived in Australia from Scotland as a child in 1911.

As an author, she draws on her own personal experiences and believes her ties to the country contribute largely to her success.

“As a farm kid and small town girl, I believe small communities, like the one I live in now in Queensland, offer a myriad of stories to draw on,” she said.

“While I write fiction, many characters and story elements are drawn from life experience.

“I find people really connect in small communities, and there is often more warmth and compassion than found in larger towns/cities. There are also real life challenges to overcome - these stories resonate with readers.”

Charlie’s Will is available at as an ebook and paperback, and is also available via Book Depository.