This year feels exciting.
Paul is reading my short stories on 101.7 Capital Radio every third Saturday around 11.00 am.
I have negotiated a deal with Visability for the production of Audio Books for the two published novels which spreads the message and has a number of other benefits, including financial.
The final editing of “Turn on a Light” is taking place and I trust will be done in time for a release in April. It’s a story that is very dear to me: conflict with bureaucracy, ignorance of Aboriginal culture, the trials and rewards of being a teacher, and, of course, falling in love. I will try to show you the cover, designed by Ross McLennan as soon as I can.
And just as exciting is are the ideas flooding about the next novel which is tentatively named “Life Sentence”. The story arose as I read Neville Green’s and Susan’s Moon’s work, “Far From Home” nearly two years ago. As a frequent visitor to Rottnest, many aspects touched me, and the concept of story, like the framework, began to emerge..
I started to write about a year ago, and hit a block in March 2015. So I left it writing and did a lot of thinking as Karen and I have worked our way through the production of “The WILUNA Solution” and the editing of “Turn on a Light”.
But about four weeks ago, I dug out what I’d written for “Life Sentence”. It was only thirty pages, but on re-reading it, it started to challenge me. As I’ve said before, my characters tend to tell me how they will behave and what they will do. The four I’d created with any substance were already telling me how they wanted to be part of the story. What does that mean?
I’ll try to explain. My first pass was to have three narrators around 1901 when Rottnest Island was being considered for closure as an Aboriginal prison: a young man in his early twenties, working for the Prisons’ Department, a warder of 28 who’s family run a cattle station just south Millstream (stay with it and I will explain, but it’s a magnificent place in the Pilbara south of Roebourne towards the Hamersely Ranges) and an aged warder who was the acting officer-in-charge of charge of the prison 1901. My revisiting to the story convinced me to only have two narrators and they are both of the young men, who have vividly different backgrounds but a common cause. An older warder and a long-term Aboriginal prisoner from Pilbara, like the younger warder, will have important roles in the story, but it’s the two younger men who will tell it.
I’ve been spent the last two weeks researching and have so much to go. Neville Green’s various documents give extensive background, particularly how Aboriginal prisoners were arrested, tried, sentenced and transported, the limited cultural understandings of Aboriginal ways by those who served as Justices of the Peace in the 1870s and beyond, and the limited and at times non-existent literacy of those appointed as warders.
But I am have many questions about shipping to the north-west around the 1890s and early 1900s, about ports like Cossack, Hedland,, Geraldton and Carnarvon around 1900, where and how railways operated at the time, and mapping life on Rottnest in the first years of the Twentieth Century.
But I think I know the story I want to tell and I think it’s one that will appeal. I just have a lot of work to do.
Stay with me and I’ll let you know what eventuates as it grows. And I am looking forward to writing it.