It seemed to me that I became a writer by accident, but now I feel it was by design, although the design was not of my making.
It was the Ravenshoe Writers’ Group, who inspired me to attempt my first novel, “Under Surveillance”. But once begun, the novel developed a life of its own. I had only to hold the pen, and the story evolved, seemingly of its own accord. My small print run sold out quickly, and I was most encouraged by the positive feedback I received from readers young and old. Several requested a sequel. This did not appeal to me, as I felt the story of that family had reached a satisfactory conclusion. But a parallel story of another unique family, that was a possibility. I chose two characters from my first story to use as links to the tale of this second family, to satisfy my readers’ desire for a continuing story.
I placed my new family in a specific setting, Western Queensland, but west of the first station, in rougher country. The characters, each complete with his or her own history, seemed to appear before me, and I had only to observe them to watch their story unfold.
The Shangri-la Trilogy was to follow this family’s experiences over three generations, as they faced the challenges of the land and their relationships. At two points, I thought my story was finished, but then, some time later, the story seemed to demand a further telling, which is why the novels are presented as a trilogy.
I have heard, in a recent radio interview with the author, Lee Child, that he writes his Reacher novels in the same way, not consciously planning events ahead of time, until it becomes necessary to bring the novel to a conclusion. So, I am in good company.
I had no idea how each story would continue until the ideas came to me, often in the middle of the night. Yet each book finally reached a point of completion. I had believed that “Justin’s Quest” had completed the series, but later, when a friend insisted I continue with another book, I realised there were still some unresolved issues that needed completing, so “Confluence” was born.
The concept for the title and cover design was provided by an Aboriginal friend, whose dying mother had urged him to adopt the name, “Two Rivers, One Ocean” for his business of reconciliation. He has given me permission to use this concept. It was only when I completed the Trilogy that I recognized the importance of this theme in my work.
Because my books are fairly short and easy to read, with large print, I feel they could be suitable for reluctant readers as well as accomplished readers. It is my hope that they will contribute to a greater understanding of First Nations people by the wider Australian community, and also support First Nations people to have greater self-respect and a deeper understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of their old traditional culture in the modern era.