Janeen Ann O'Connell
Janeen Ann O'Connell was born and grew up in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Her parents separated before her first birthday, and her maternal grandmother had primary care of Janeen until she was six. It was her grandmother's strong sense of justice, her strong political will, and the passion filled stories she told of her childhood and the Depression years, that instilled a love of family history and politics into the aspiring writer. It was during her family history research that Janeen learned her grandmother’s cousin was Premier of the State of Victoria from 1924 until 1927 and her uncle was a mayor and councillor in regional Victoria. Janeen now understood where her interest in politics came from.
Janeen loved school; her favourite subjects were English, and History and she had plans to go to university. Her mother had other ideas. Not being able to afford a new uniform and books, Janeen was told to leave school – she was sixteen – and find a job. Her English teacher hugged her on the last day and made her promise she would finish her education.
Marriage and family held things up. When pregnant with her second child, Janeen started night classes at the local high school, and over two years, completed the Higher School Certificate. During that time there had been a change in government in Australia and the long-standing conservative Liberal and Country Party Coalition was removed from office by the electorate and the Labor Party installed. This government introduced free university education. At the time Janeen worked as a secretary at the University of Melbourne Archives and the staff there encouraged her to enrol and pursue her educational goals. Over the next twelve years she worked full time and studied part-time. Completing a Bachelor of Arts Degree, and a Graduate Diploma of Education.
Janeen majored in Political Science in her Degree and sub-majored in Journalism. After working in different situations for several years, she eventually settled into secondary teaching where her specialties were English and Humanities.
Over the years Janeen has belonged to organisations that try to create change. Her very first experience with the power of people pursuing revolution, was to belong to an anti-whaling group called “Project Jonah”. This group influenced the closing down of the last Australian whaling station. Janeen currently supports Animals Australia and the RSPCA in their efforts to improve animal welfare.
When Janeen’s husband became seriously ill, she left teaching, which she loved and enjoyed, to look after him. To fill in time she researched her family history and studied a Diploma of Family History (online) at the University of Tasmania. This Diploma whipped Janeen's random genealogical research into a manageable form and inspired her to write the books about her long-forgotten convict ancestors.. The discovery of convicts she hadn’t known about who were exiled from Britain to the other side of the world, especially one who was on the First Fleet in 1788, ignited the passion to tell their stories.
The first book, No Room for Regret was never intended for public consumption. Janeen wrote it to try and get her children interested in their family history. She is still waiting. Offering the manuscript to friends to read, Janeen was overwhelmed by the positive feedback, by the encouraging comments and the general love of the story. No Room for Regret became the first in the Cullen / Bartlett trilogy. It has been followed by Love, Lies and Legacies, and Time Tells All. Janeen is currently working on the prequel to the trilogy.
Her family history has lots more secrets, adventures, political misadventures, pioneer challenges, insane asylum admissions, bankruptcies and happy stories to share.
Janeen lives in a suburb of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia with her husband and their miniature poodle, Teddy. She has two daughters, one son, four granddaughters and one grandson.
No Room For Regret
Love, Lies And Legacies
Time Tells All