||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (July 2007)|
Birmingham at the Javits Exhibition Center in February 2009, attending the New York Comic Con.
7 August 1964 |
Liverpool, United Kingdom
Early life and education
Birmingham was born in Liverpool, United Kingdom, but grew up in Ipswich, Queensland, Australia, having moved to the country with his parents in 1970. Birmingham received his higher education at Saint Edmund's College in Ipswich and at the University of Queensland in Brisbane. Birmingham's only stint of full-time employment was as a researcher at the Australian Department of Defence but he has worked for the television program A Current Affair.
While a law student, Birmingham was one of the last people arrested under the state's Anti Street March legislation. Birmingham was convicted of displaying a sheet of paper with the words 'Free Speech' written on it in very small type. The local newspaper carried a photograph of him being frogmarched off to a waiting police van.
Birmingham returned to Queensland to study law but he did not complete his legal studies, choosing instead to pursue a career as an author. Birmingham has a degree in international relations and currently lives in Brisbane.
Birmingham was first published in Semper Floreat, the student newspaper at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, writing a series of stories featuring a fictional character named Commander Harrison Biscuit. He won a young writers award for the Independent, which was edited by Brian Toohey and wrote a number of articles for Rolling Stone and Australian Penthouse magazines.
In 1994 Birmingham released his sharehouse living memoir He Died with a Felafel in His Hand, which has since been turned into a play, film and a graphic novel. The sequel is The Tasmanian Babes Fiasco (Duffy and Snellgrove, 1997), the theatrical version of which was written and produced by 36 unemployed actors. It went on to become the longest running stage play in Australian history. In 2014, three Brisbane filmmakers sought funds to make a film version via crowdfunding.
Other works by him include The Search for Savage Henry, a crime novel featuring the character Harrison Biscuit, How To Be A Man, a semi-humorous guide to contemporary Australian masculinity and Off One's Tits, a collection of essays and articles previously published elsewhere. He also spent four years researching the history of Sydney for Leviathan: the unauthorised biography of Sydney (Random House, 1999, ISBN 0-09-184203-4). It won Australia's National Prize For Non-Fiction in 2002.
He has also written two small pocket books The Felafel Guide to Getting Wasted (2002) and The Felafel Guide to Sex (2002) which feature advice Birmingham has received over the years regarding those two subjects. He also wrote the nonfiction book "Dopeland" which examined Australia's cannabis culture.
Birmingham has written two Quarterly Essays (Black Inc. an imprint of Schwartz Publishing Pty Ltd) Appeasing Jakarta: Australia's Complicity in the East Timor Tragedy and A Time for War: Australia as a Military Power. He is also a regular contributor to The Monthly, an Australian national magazine of politics, society and the arts.
In September 2006, Birmingham wrote a piece in The Australian lambasting Germaine Greer for an article she'd written in The Guardian about Steve Irwin shortly after his death. He described Greer's comments as "a poisonous discharge of bile". Portions of Birmingham's article were later quoted in the Parliament of New South Wales.
Axis of Time
In 2004 he published the alternative history Weapons of Choice, the first in the Axis of Time trilogy, a series of Tom Clancy-like techno-thrillers. Many writers from those genres appear as minor characters. It was published by Del Rey Books in the United States, and by Pan Macmillan in Australia.
The series tells of a multinational peacekeeping force from the early 21st century being taken back in time to 1942, where its presence completely changes the course of the Second World War. In August 2005, the second book, Designated Targets was published in Australia. Publication in the United States followed in October 2005.
The third and final full-length novel in the trilogy, Final Impact, was released in Australia in early August 2006, and was released in the United States in January 2007. The ABC reported in 2006 that there were two new Birmoverse books in the works, one set shortly after the end of the war, and another in the alternative 1980s, said to feature a dashing young RAF pilot: Richard Branson. One of these books was originally set to be released in Australia in 2008, but Birmingham instead wrote Without Warning. The 2013 novella Stalin's Hammer: Rome continues the series.
Without Warning, the first book in a new universe, was released in Australia in September 2008. The novel is a thought experiment, set on the eve of Operation Iraqi Freedom in March 2003. It deals with the disappearance of the bulk of the United States' population as the result of a large energy field that becomes known as "The Wave". Without Warning deals with the international consequences of the disappearance of the world's only super power on the eve of war. It was released in the United States on 3 February 2009. A second novel, titled After America, was released on 1 July 2010 in Australia and 17 August 2010 in the United States. The third book in the series, Angels of Vengeance, was released on 1 November 2011 in Australia and was released in April 2012 in the United States.
- He Died with a Felafel in His Hand (1994)
- The Tasmanian Babes Fiasco (1998)
- Leviathan: The Un-authorised Biography of Sydney (1999)
- How to be a Man (co-authored with Dirk Flinthart) (2000)
- Appeasing Jakarta: Australia's complicity in the East Timor Tragedy (2001)
- Off One's Tits (collection of articles & essays) (2002)
- Dopeland: Taking the High Road through Australia's Marijuana Culture (2003)
- A Time for War: Australia as a Military Power (2005)
Axis of Time Series
The Disappearance Series
The David Hooper Trilogy
- Hardy, Karen (14 February 2015). "John Birmingham talks Ascendance since He Died with a Felafel in His Hand". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 24 June 2015.
- Rien, Mileta (October 2001). "FIRST TASTE OF FELAFEL: AN INTERVIEW WITH JOHN BIRMINGHAM" (PDF). Booranga News. Retrieved 24 June 2015.
- Bochenski, Natalie (21 October 2014). "A trio of Brisbane filmmakers have turned to crowdfunding to help make a sequel to He Died With a Felafel in his Hand". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 24 June 2015.
- "Greer terms Irwin torturer, triggers debate". Times Of India. 7 September 2006. Retrieved 11 September 2013.
- "Death of Steve Irwin - 07/09/2006 - NSW Parliament". Parliament.nsw.gov.au. 7 September 2006. Retrieved 11 September 2013.
- Articulate: John Birmingham's alternative history. 25 August 2006. ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corp)
- Graeme Blundell (18 October 2008). "On lowbrow street". The Australian. Retrieved 10 November 2008.
- "MCC-Longview 2008 Literary Festival". Metropolitan Community College. 2008. Retrieved 19 November 2008.
- Official website
- John Birmingham's Brisbane Times blog, Blunt Instrument
- John Birmingham's other Brisbane Times blog, The Geek
- John Birmingham at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
- ABC Queensland story on Birmingham
- ABC Radio National story on Leviathan
- Tracee Hutchison's response to Birmingham's Greer article in The Age
- Clive Hamilton's response in the Sydney Morning Herald
- Articulate story on the Axis of Time trilogy
- Talk at the Wheeler Centre on female action heroines