Contention’s Mudgee connection

Author Stephen J Irwin brought his debut Contention to the Mudgee Small Farm Field Days and eagle-eyed attendees spotted the local connection.

The story captures the rivalry of two contrasting racehorse trainers competing at Royal Ascot. Irwin drawing on his experience in the thoroughbred racing industry.

He’s also a sculptor and a look at his work is on the cover of Contention.

It’s called 'Taking the Plunge' and it now resides at Mudgee’s Lawson Park sculpture walk.

“I had tried to get it into Sculptures by the Sea and when they didn’t take it I was devastated because I really thought it would get in,” he said.

“So we brought it over to Mudgee for the Sculptures in the Garden at Rosby and Council bought it. Which couldn’t have turned out any better because now it’s there for everyone to see.

“The funny thing was the day after the sculpture sold I asked [now wife] Shannon to marry me, we were in Newcastle and at 2am the story for the book hit me – I got up and started writing.”

Furthermore, ‘Taking the Plunge’ wasn’t even the first choice of cover either. After kicking around ideas of photos of people at the races Irwin used the photo as his Facebook profile and was told by a friend “there’s your book cover”.

Contention has been selling well – not only at the Field Days – but in strong private sales since its release.

“I’m really overwhelmed with how people have been receiving the book, I thought it would go okay but nothing like how it’s been,” he said.

“Whether people are horse industry related or not, they’re really enjoying the book for the rivalry and the way it’s told from an Australian knockabout guy.”

Irwin will be at the Field Days again on Saturday at site A29 in the main pavilion.