I love history. My family must often wonder what century I am living in. I can rattle off names, places and dates from far off times but ask me what the date was today I would probably have to consult a calendar! I surround myself with antiques from bygone eras. You will often find me writing with an old ink dip pen by the light of an oil lamp. It is not uncommon to find me traipsing through cemeteries looking for “lost relatives”.
Nevertheless I have forced myself to learn one new skill from the modern era – how to make good use the World Wide Web!
A fascination with Australian history was instilled in me at a very early age by teachers who helped make history come alive. When I left school I resolved that there was no better history to study than that of my own family tree. Over the years I have become my family’s unofficial historian and have also helped other family researchers discover their roots through my volunteer work at the Queensland Genealogical Society.
I don’t believe history is just names and dates but rather human stories and so South Australian history, my home state, became my first love. All my ancestors chose to freely immigrate to South Australia during the 19th century. I dearly wanted to find a convict (Australia’s royalty) lurking somewhere in the branches of my tree but it was not to be.
Australia’s convict past then became an all-consuming passion. I have surrounded myself with an extensive personal library of diaries and works written at the time by people who lived through what we now know as history.
As a result of this research, Norfolk Island and its second convict settlement captivated me. Dragging my long suffering husband on four visits to the island (so far) I have explored extensively every facet of that period.
Writing a novel was never at the forefront of my mind. However, while walking through the ruins of the pentagonal prison in Kingston, Norfolk Island a germ of an idea began to take root and three very insistent characters took over my life encouraging me to write.
Winning a place in the inaugural Redland City Council, Queensland Writers’ competition in 2008 gave me the opportunity to complete my debut novel HEART OF A BEAST under the guidance of published author Louise Cusack, writer of romantic fantasy.