January 2017

I sit here on day three of a new year listening to the welcome sound of rain pattering on the windows, pleased that there is some relief after days of intense heat and humidity. Now is the time for me to begin making plans for 2017 and this year will be mainly devoted to fiction – namely a sequel to The Moon is Everywhere the Same. One thing I have definitely decided on is that the next title will be short. I cannot tell you how many times I have regretted having chosen such a long title even though I thought it was very apt at the time I chose it. You live and learn, don’t you?

I am looking forward to developing new characters and perhaps even new locations for Book 2. The comforting thing about writing fiction is that the characters become your friends while you are writing; they welcome you when you sit down at the computer and you do miss them when the story is ended. My task over the next couple of days is to find the time line I used for the first story and develop it further. What was happing in Sydney and Eden after we left Jane and Gerard? How was the colony developing? I’m looking forward to doing the research already!

Talking of characters and locations, sometimes it is the characters that stay in your mind after you have finished reading a novel, and sometimes it is the location. I have just finished reading The Dry by Australian author Jane Harper and here is a writer who manages to develop both perfectly so the location almost becomes another character. There is not a wasted word in this novel set in a small Australian town which is the centre of a farming community affected by prolonged drought.

The discovery of three bodies - Luke Hadler, his wife and child – leads the town to blame the tragedy on the devastating effect the long term drought has had on the family. But Luke’s parents cannot believe their son would be guilty of such a crime and ask his old school friend, Aaron Falk (now a Federal Police investigator), to come home for the funeral and look into the deaths. Aaron does so reluctantly having left the town under a cloud of suspicion twenty years ago and his arrival stirs memories of a mystery surrounding the death of another friend. Old hostilities are raised once again as Luke tries to find the answer to Luke’s death and also to resolve the earlier crime. A tightly written novel, the story keeps moving and holds the reader’s attention from page one.

This is the first book I have read for the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2017. The commitment is to read six novels by Australian Women during the year and review at least four of them. As a first choice it was a cracker and certainly provided some good reading during my R & R following surgery. I’m looking forward to discovering more gems throughout the year.

I did say I was not going to write about the journey of my breast cancer but I cannot ignore those of you who have sent your good wishes and prayers for a speedy recovery. All of them were taken on board and held dear. The result is that the surgery was successful. I am now clear of the cancer and just have to get on with recovering. Having dealt solely with women throughout the process I cannot tell you how supportive everyone was and I can quite understand now there are times when having to accept help from others can be quite enriching.

I’ll leave you with best wishes for the coming year – may you achieve at least some of your dreams and if you don’t - well enjoy the journey.

See you next month.

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