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Queensland Literary Awards honour UQ Business School alumnus

31 Aug 2015

Former corporate high-flier and UQ alumnus John Ahern never imagined he would one day be nominated for a Queensland Literary Award.

The previous head of corporate real estate, mergers and acquisitions and group buying for Flight Centre Limited was shortlisted for the People’s Choice Queensland Book of the Year for his breakthrough first novel, On The Road…With Kids.

The novel follows the real-life adventures of John and his family, who gave up their careers and home comforts to travel the world in a campervan.

Chasing a dream, the Ahern family criss-crossed the globe and visited 32 countries in one year before returning home to Queensland.

John, a Bachelor of Business graduate, said he has always enjoyed writing stories but had never considered publishing his work.

“That’s not the sort of thing normally associated with a business degree in real estate,” he said.

“I have been through over 85 countries and whenever I travelled, I would write long, hand-scrawled letters home to my mum.

“It was the same on this trip, particularly as we cut ourselves off from technology, but it wasn’t until I returned home that I discovered my mum and all her retired friends at Redcliffe’s Ballycara retirement village loved them.

“Adding to their joy, other people were deeply interested in the post-trip seismic lifestyle changes we made that focused on slowing down and spending connected time with our kids.

“The combination of those two things spurred me on to feel I had a good, meaningful and funny story to tell."

As a first-time author, John said he was thrilled to be recognised for his work.

“To be nominated and to receive recognition by respected peers through the Queensland Literary Awards has been one of the great compliments and highlights of my short, wild author ride so far,” he said.

His novel’s success continues to grow, with an international release scheduled for 2016 in the UK and USA. Nine years on from his life-changing journey, the first-time author is adamant he will continue to pursue his passion.

“With the book released, I am immersing myself in this previously unimaginable quest of being an author,” John said.

Voting for The Courier Mail People’s Choice Queensland Book of the Year Award closes at 5pm on Friday 18 September. Click here to vote.

The winner will be announced at the Queensland Literary Awards Ceremony on Friday 9 October.

On The Road…With Kids is available in print, audio and eBook formats, online here.

To download a free extract, click here.

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