Torres Strait Islander Aaron Fa’Aoso, father of two, has earned a living as a professional footballer, a Kings Cross bouncer, a remote community health worker, an acclaimed actor and—most recently—as the owner and manager of his own media production company.
Aaron has elected to produce his memoir in collaboration with me, Michelle Scott Tucker. Published by Pantera Press, the book is available now for pre-order at booktopia.kh4ffx.net/b31R6B and on the shelves in all good bookshops in September 2022.
Frankly, it’s a privilege and an honour to work with Aaron. Like him, his story is smart and funny and full of emotional complexity and depth. I’m thrilled that we’ve found a publisher who is as ambitious for this important memoir as we are.
So Far, So Good will be the first memoir to be commercially published by a Torres Strait Islander. Aaron’s story therefore provides an important contribution to the rising and very welcome tide of First Nations voices in Australia, addressing the under-representation of Torres Strait Islander perspectives in Australian life.
Crucially though – and not incidentally – it will also be a cracker of a read. Some early feedback from literary agents and publishers, about the manuscript:
- This manuscript ripped my heart and guts out and then put them back together, and the heart at least is ten times bigger. Incredible!
- What a triumph! The book is incredibly moving, disarming, honest, funny, entertaining and so damn compelling. I couldn’t put it down.
- Aaron, you have truly put your heart on the page and are so brave to do so, and I commend you for it – it can’t have been easy. This honesty and vulnerability adds so much to the emotional pull of the book and I think readers will connect with the highs and lows of your journey due to the generous spirit in which it is told.
- Michelle, you have so beautifully captured Aaron’s voice. I also feel like I know his Mum and Nan really well! It’s filled with warmth and humour and the insights into Torres Strait history, culture and community threaded throughout give it an extra layer of richness.
- Truly something special here. Honestly, these are the books we got into the biz for and can’t wait to get it into the hands of Aussie readers everywhere.
In 2008, a month after Aaron married for the second time and just as his acting career was flourishing, his new wife took her own life. In the dark times that followed Aaron eventually found strength and meaning in his family, and in his beloved Torres Strait community.
‘So Far, So Good is as much the story of the challenges and aspirations of an underrepresented people as it is the story of an individual,’ says Aaron. ‘It’s an absolute pleasure to work on it with Michelle Scott Tucker – trust is not something I give so easily, however Michelle is the exception. I am also extremely grateful to Pantera for ensuring a broad audience can access a contemporary Torres Strait Islander story – one with more twists and turns than a Netflix series.’
Aaron’s story is all about what it means to be a successful Indigenous man in the twenty-first century. With generosity, humour and emotional insight he examines how the death of his father and grandfather, when Aaron was only six, led to his being raised by his loving but fiery mother and his even fiercer grandmother. How belief in himself as a warrior, and as a descendent of warriors, made him—literally and metaphorically—into a fighter.
And, given that so many white Australians can’t imagine a scenario that includes the words ‘successful’ and ‘Indigenous’ together, his story is also about what it means to push back against ignorance and racism.
Aaron can currently be seen in Strait to the Plate, an SBS show featuring the food and people of the Torres Strait, which he presents and produced. Aaron has also starred in films and TV series including RAN: Remote Area Nurse; East West 101; The Straits; Bikie Wars: Brothers in Arms, and Goldwater. His latest on-screen outings have included the documentary Blue Water Empire (which he also wrote and produced) and the hit ABC show Black Comedy. Aaron has received nominations for an AFI Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Television Drama and for a Logie Award for Most Outstanding New Talent.
Aaron actively supports and mentors others and is a board member of Media RING—an industry group which develops, provides and enhances career opportunities for Indigenous Australians in the media. However, Aaron’s career, and his role as an emerging leader, were both hard-won in the face of many setbacks and heartaches.
Pantera’s publisher Lex Hirst said, ‘Brimming with Aaron’s warmth and humour yet unflinching in its examination of structural racism and its consequences, this book will move hearts and minds. Aaron’s generous invitation to step into his story and learn about his life, and through it, Torres Strait culture and history, is powerful storytelling at its finest.’
Aaron’s story moves well beyond the standard struggle-to-success narrative. It examines the wider issues of mental health, the challenges facing remote communities, the personal impacts of alcohol and violence, as well as the consolations of belonging to Country. A deeply spiritual man, Aaron’s story also addresses the effects of colonisation and Christianity on the people of the Torres Strait with nuance, understanding and empathy.
Agent Danielle Binks said, ‘Aaron signed with the Jacinta di Mase Agency back in 2018, and it really was a matter of everything falling into place to get here – of waiting for the right storyteller in Michelle, and then for Pantera Press to come on board as the perfect home for his story. Everything had to be right, Aaron had to be ready and feel comfortable – and Pantera went such a long way to ensuring that. We think this book is in the best possible hands, and we can’t wait for Aaron to have his say and for people to listen to this tale.’
Here’s a sample of what you can expect, with Aaron’s introduction to the memoir …