Guide to the Papers of Colin Talbot [MSS 185]

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Manuscript Name Papers of Colin Talbot
Manuscript Number MSS 185
Last Updated June 2021
Extent 7 boxes + 1 AV box
Location Special Collections, UNSW Canberra
Abstract Manuscripts of published and unpublished work, screenplays, diaries, news clippings, scripts, and audiovisual material relating to Colin Talbot

Collection Subject Type


Scope and Content

This collection relates to Colin Talbot and includes manuscripts of both published and unpublished works together with notebooks, proposed television series, song lyrics, audiovisual material, news clippings, scripts, and screenplays (including material written under his pseudonym, Traven Collins). It includes extensive manuscript material for The Zen Detective (1995), and the novel Sweethearts (1978), for which Talbot wrote a screenplay in 1987 and filmed with the assistance of the Australian Film Commission in 1990. The archive also includes song lyrics composed by Talbot related to his music, film and television collaborations with Australian musicians including Steve Cummings, Paul Grabowsky and Red Symons

Date Range of Content


Biographical Note

Colin Talbot was born in 1948 and raised in South Australia, completing his education at Port Pirie High School. After beginning his work in journalism as a copy boy for The News in Adelaide in 1967, Talbot moved east and became a rock-music columnist for The Australian as well as writing columns and contributions for numerous publications, both traditional and counter-cultural. In 1974, he became an editor on Tabloid Story, whilst also editing The Digger. That same year, he also co-founded Outback Press. After the publishing of two novels (Massive Road Trauma in 1975 and Sweethearts in 1978) and the folding of Outback Press in 1980, Talbot continued to pursue opportunities within the creative arts, literary and journalism fields. Amongst his many achievements were the production of an album of original songs, publications about sport and cultural matters under the nom de plume Traven Collins, and in 1990 the directing of a feature-film adaptation of his novel Sweethearts

Austlit : Colin Talbot retrieved 18 September 2020


Administrative Information


Access and Copying Conditions

Access: Check with Curator

This collection contains a variety of copyright material. Copyright is held by the creator of each item. Specific conditions for this collection are listed below. If no conditions are stipulated then the standard terms of the Copyright Act apply for published and unpublished items. Digitised material from manuscript collections is provided to clients by UNSW Canberra in good faith for private study and research only, and may not be published or re-purposed without the express and written permission of the individual legal holder of that copyright. Refer also to the UNSW copyright, disclaimer and takedown policy. 

Copying: Check with Curator

Preferred Citation

Papers of Colin Talbot, Special Collections, UNSW Canberra, Australian Defence Force Academy, Canberra, MSS 185, Box [Number], Folder [Number].


Check with Curator


Subject Keywords



Colin Talbot, 1948-2018 — Archives

Australian fiction — 20th century

Motion picture plays

Motion picture music

Personal Names

Colin Talbot, 1948-2018

Stephen Cummings, 1954-






Container List


Box 1                                     

Folder 1

Creek Roulette (poetry): photocopy of first book

Sunset (poetry): photocopy published in Sandals: written 1962, collected by author’s teacher, Morris Hood

Folder 2

Sweethearts (film): original handwritten draft script, 1987, (hardcover copy used by as source book for the film, for example blue underlined material was extracted as voice over)

Synopsis: original, 1985, sent to Film Victoria

Folder 3

‘Sweethearts : Zen Motel’(film): outline synopsis; crew list; script, first draft, handwritten

Folder 4

‘Sweethearts: Zero Motel’ (film): - shooting script, January 1988 - first shoot.  This was the reference script second draft used on the shoot

Continuity script marked-up with the shots, for example wide shots, ECU [extreme closeup]

Folder 5

Sweethearts (film): draft, rough of third script for 1989 shoot, corrected for typing          

Folder 6

Sweethearts (film): second draft, November 1988

Folder 7

Sweethearts (film): correspondence; editing dialogue script; credit lists; title lists; continuity sheets; call sheets for re-shoot 19??

Folder 8

‘The Local Rag’ (pilot recorded for ABC TV - never shown): script (only existing copy of manuscript, ABC lost their copies)

Folder 9

‘The Local Rag’: expanded treatment


Box 2

Folder 10

‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Detective’ (projected TV series, 1986): draft, revised first, first draft original; second draft, typewritten

‘Blue Julie’ (film): synopsis and outline (offered to producers, did not proceed)

Folder 11

Diaries: two work - some containing history of Melbourne Writers Festival (author was its first coordinator), jottings

Folder 12

Diary: 1 work jottings

16 slides of paintings, for use in novels - one destined to be the cover of novel The Zen Detective

Folder 13

Song lyrics (approximately 50 or 60, some have had music put to them by Steven Cummings, Paul Grabowsky, Red Symons and Kenny Lopez; some are in the move Sweethearts, others on albums (Paul Grabowsky’s The Moon and You), and some appeared in the film Beyond El Rocio), 1980-1989

Astrological profiles of the author, two sets of 20 pages (he uses them in his novels for character reference)

Folder 14

‘Beauty and the Beast’: original five-page script and film ideas; original film treatment, 1984 and six page re-draft 1987

Contract for the Sweethearts re-print with Richard Lee

Miscellaneous newspaper clipping from a trade magazine

Work in progress

Miscellaneous correspondence

The Zen Detective; ‘India the Quality of Unknown Things’


Folder 15

‘India the Quality of Unknown Things’ (unpublished novel): first draft, which never made it to the manuscript proper

The Zen Detective: original pages, ending, 1984, not in final draft

The Zen Detective: marked for a TV project, treatment, series outline, handwritten

Folder 16

‘Los Trios Ringbarkus’: original manuscript for a film starring, typewritten (not proceeded with)

Miscellaneous film ideas, handwritten

Notes: details of coroners court, Armed Robbery Squad, taking while researching for ‘Small Town Hamlet’ (unpublished novel); 15 pages various parts of film scripts and dialogue; outline for ‘The 10th Man’ (film) and ‘A Country Show’


Press releases - Steven Cummings

Folder 17

Notebooks (3)

Folder 18

‘A Country Jesus’ (unpublished novel, 1987) : corrected fourth draft, typed [later published 2016]

Who Murdered Me? (1984, 1988, novel to be published 1990 by Richard Lee), third draft


Box 3

Folder 19

‘The Kiss of Death’ (unpublished novel): first draft, photocopy

Folder 20

‘A Country Jesus’ (novel): manuscript, three edits in one


Box 4

Audiovisual material

Items AV1 –AV14 (including 6A and 6B) comprising

Video cassettes: Sweethearts: edited 7 December 1988 - the original interior footage shot for $20,000

Video cassette: Sweethearts: 5 September 1989 - first edit of the complete film (video coverage damaged)

Video cassette: Sweethearts: 12 September 1989 - second edit of complete film

Video cassette: Sweethearts: 18 September 1989 - third edit, shot off 35mm screen in cinema

Video cassette: Sweethearts: 9 October 1989 - fourth edit, shot off screen

Video cassette: Sweethearts: fine cut edit

Video cassette: Sweethearts: this version was used to ‘post-synchronise’ badly recorded sound at a multi-track ??

Video cassette: Sweethearts: 9 January 1990 - new sound track and further edited version

Video cassette: Sweethearts: 15 March 1990 re-shoot - (seven minutes of film negative lost by film laboratory) lost material replaced by this rough sound mix

Video cassette: Sweethearts: re-shoot full clip transferred to video and back to film, which is part of the lost material

Video cassette: Sweethearts: re-shoot work print of the lost negative with Red Symons soundtrack

Video cassette: Sweethearts: unavailable

Video cassette: Sweethearts: re-shoot continuity (rehearsals videotaped)

Video cassette: Sweethearts: work print of list footage with Ken Leslie soundtrack

Video cassette: Sweethearts: continuity from the first shoot, 1988

Video cassette: Sweethearts: continuity from 1988


Box 5

Folder 21


Spirax brand notebook number 563, undated

Victory brand notebook, inside front cover contents: ‘Notebook for (1) Paul Grabowski’s lyrics’ (2) Film Treatment Script (3) Novel’, undated

Folder 22

Literary Drafts

Colin Talbot, Creek Roulette, Contempa Publications (Armidale, 1973)

Colin Talbot and Stephen Cummings, ‘The Rock ‘n’ Roll Detective’ [proposal for TV series, 1986] – first draft

Colin Talbot and Stephen Cummings, ‘Blue Julie”’[idea for a film, 1986] – outline

‘Pieces of ‘Small Town Hamlet’ from 1986/7’ – handwritten notes, ideas, jottings, drafts

‘A Country Jesus’ (1987)

‘A Country Jesus’ (1988), second draft

Folder 23

Literary Drafts

‘Diary of Sweethearts (film), production short (1989) and script plans & rewrites’; documented in Melbourne Building Trades Diary (1989)

Peter Trammer, Massive Road Trauma: Treatment for Screenplay (Lower Templestowe, 1990)

‘Who Murdered Me? (Buddhism for Profit)’ (1988)

‘Who Murdered Me? (Buddhism for Profit)’ (1988), on cover The Zen Detective 1989 ‘Who Murdered Me’

‘Who Murdered Me? (Buddhism for Profit)’ (1988), on cover ‘Pt. 1 1990’

Folder 24

Literary Drafts

‘Who Murdered Me?’, on cover ‘Pt. 2 1990’

‘Who Murdered Me?’, on cover ‘Pt. 3 1990’

‘Who Murdered Me?’ (Buddhism for Profit), galley proofs version (1992); with ‘Astro-Talk Personal astrological profile created for Col Talbot’ (1988?)

Who Murdered Me (1993) Late Draft and (Discarded) Scenarios for Film’ [‘Who Murdered Me: A Zen Detective Adventure’]


Box 6

Folder 25

Literary Drafts

‘Undying Love: a novel by Colin Talbot (1986). Also known as: The Kiss of Death’, on cover is ‘Kiss of Death version (1) 1987’ with comment that it is first draft, third revision

‘Kiss of Death’ (1991?) version (3) (pt. 1)’

‘Kiss of Death’ version (3) (pt. 2)’

Folder 26

Literary Drafts

‘Kiss of Death novel’ (version 4) (1992)

‘Kiss of Death’ integrated with ‘Who Murdered Me?’ (1993)

Folder 27

Literary Drafts

‘The Zen Detective’ in “India The Quality of Unknown Things”, a novel by Colin Talbot, on cover ‘Novel. India: The Quality of Unknown Theory’ (later to be part one of ‘Shamus Face’ (1986), second draft corrected to third draft

‘Shamus Face’, version one (1992)

‘Small Town Hamlet’ version four late to become part (2) of ‘Shamus Face’ (1993)

Folder 28

Literary Drafts

‘1st version unpaginated of “Shamus Face”’ (undated)

‘Shamus Face’ version (2) (1993)

‘Shamus Face by Traven Collins’ (1994)


Box 7

Folder 29

Literary Drafts

‘Shamus Face...The Zen Detective Investigates the Quality of Unknown Things, by Traven Collins as told to Colin Talbot’ (1993)

‘Shamus Face: a novel by Traven Collins’ (1993). Part three of a trilogy featuring the Zen Detective

Folder 30

Literary Drafts

‘A Novel. Shamus Face by Traven Collins’ (1994), with letter dated 22 September 1994 concerning Australia Council Fellowship application

‘Shamus Face: a novel by Traven Collins’ (1993), redraft of earlier 1994 version

Folder 31

Literary Drafts

‘Who Murdered Me? A Zen Detective Mystery’, final draft (1994)

‘Shamus Face: A Novel by Traven Collins’, final draft (1993). Part three of a trilogy featuring the Zen Detective

‘The Kiss of Death’, final draft (1993). Part one [of The Zen Detective]

Folder 32

Literary Drafts

‘The Zen Detective Film. The Film book cut-up for the Film (script being written now) and budgets’ (undated)

Folder 33

Literary Drafts

‘Film Notes Synopses Outline for Zen Detective. Film & budget & film correspondence & songs for film’ (undated)


Box 8

Folder 34

Literary Drafts

‘The Kiss of Death’ (1994), ‘The Zen Detective. Part One...The Kiss of Death’, with ‘Kiss of Death. A Novel by Colin Talbot’, rejected version (1992/1993): ‘now this part of novel has been subsumed into ‘Shame Face’’

Folder 35

Literary Drafts

‘Zen Detective MS 1995’

‘Zen Detective MS October 1995’

Folder 36

Literary Drafts

‘Zen Detective redraft, re-corrected. November 1995’

‘Zen Detective proof copy, December 1995’

Folder 37

Literary Drafts

‘The Footy Book (written under the pen-name Traven Collins) 1994’, with a draft copy of ‘The Easy A-Z Footy Book: More Than You Will Ever Need to Know About Football; An A-Z Guide to Terminology in the Age of the Drop Punt’; includes annotations, rough drafts, notes, jottings

Folder 38

Literary Drafts

‘A Kind of Farewell Note by Traven Collins’ (1994)

‘Nirvana Box’ (1994)

The Bloke’s Manual by Traven Collins (published 1996?)’, with two letters concerning publication proposals, dated October and November 1993

‘Material for Traven Collins Cricket Book and Reviews etc.’ (1994?)

‘Lost Pieces: (1) piece of Small Town Hamlet (2) 2 film outlines (3) short variation Kiss of Death (1994)’

‘Songs for Ian Moss’ (undated)

‘The Bounty Hunter (The Sacrifice) – Synopsis’, ‘Who Murdered Me? – Synopsis’, correspondence regarding Sweethearts screenplay options, domestic and international marketing activities, 1988-1990