Peter Chapman enjoys a laugh Peter Chapman at the 2016 ARM Readership Awards after his retirement as Queensland Times editor.
Peter Chapman enjoys a laugh Peter Chapman at the 2016 ARM Readership Awards after his retirement as Queensland Times editor. Adam Hourigan

Former editor embarks on memoir writing project

A FORMER Daily Examiner editor wants to write a book about you.

Peter Chapman was the editor in 2009 when The Daily Examiner was awarded the Pacific Area Newspaper Publishers' Association Newspaper of the Year for publications with circulation up to 25,000 copies a day.

After stints at the Fraser Coast Chronicle in Hervey Bay and Queensland Times in Ipswich, he retired from APN in 2016.

Now without the title of "editor" in front of his name, Mr Chapman has found another way to continue celebrating people's lives, founding the company My Life Books.

When Mr Chapman, who was born in South Grafton, was first handed a notebook and pen as a young journalist he was sent off to write a story about a woman celebrating her 100th birthday.

He recalls many years later how as a raw cadet he didn't know what to expect as he walked into her home in Sydney.

"I thought I'd have to shout out my questions and look to her children to give me the answers," he said.

"Instead I found a spritely 100-year-old who ended up playing the piano for me and handing out lamingtons she'd just cooked. Her sense of humour and love of life was intoxicating.

"It was such a wonderful experience to meet her and I trust that the newspaper story I wrote on her big day did her justice."

Mr Chapman believes it was that early interview that fuelled his love of writing people's life stories.

"Whenever a young journalist told me they didn't have a story for tomorrow's paper I'd tell them to go and interview someone for a My Life piece," he said.

"Everyone has a story, ... some of those yarns proved to be crackers."

Shirley Chapman shares her memories in her My Life book with great grandson Kysar and granddaughter,Dannielle. Her son and former Daily Examiner editor Peter Chapman recently wrote and produced the book.
Shirley Chapman shares her memories in her My Life book with great grandson Kysar and granddaughter,Dannielle. Her son and former Daily Examiner editor Peter Chapman recently wrote and produced the book. Peter Chapman

His latest venture stemmed from a memoir he put together about his own mother.

"My mum is in her 80s and not enjoying the best of health and I thought it would be great to have a celebration of her life in a hard book form before she says farewell," he said.

"So I sat down with her over a week and put a book together talking about her life, the childhood memories and how she managed to raise six of us in a small housing commission home in Sydney.

"I thought I knew everything about Mum but I soon realised there were many other stories she hadn't shared."

The book of his mum's life created so much good feedback he decided to expand it and he's now offering the service to others.

The idea is that the book, which combines a pictorial history as well as a person's life memories, is a special keepsake that can be handed on to generation after generation.

"My only issue with Mum's book is that now she keeps ringing me up telling me more and more stories she has just remembered," Mr Chapman laughed.

"I just told her that we may have to write a second edition and this time will make it 80 pages, not just 40 pages long."

Click here for more information on My Life Books.