I have really met some lovely people through my few short years in the writing world. The three women, who are involved in our new initiative Facebook Page (Australian Outback mysteries and romances, and Twitter @outbackromances) are some of them!
Today, you get to meet Hélène Young, who is part of this group.
Hélène’s first book, Border Watch, is on sale as we speak/read! It’s the first of a two book “Border’s” series and has all things I love in a book – crime, mystery, intrigue and a love story, as the cherry on the cake! I get goose-bumps just thinking about it!
But not only is she a passionate writer, she is a pilot (which, growing up in a flying family, I think is wonderful!) It’s something slightly ‘out of the norm’, and as a woman in a mostly-man’s world, I believe is a great thing.
I am so excited to have Hélène here today. Her launch is on the 5th of March at Glaskins Gallery, Trinity Beach, Queensland. This will be a wonderful celebration of another of Australia’s outstanding talents.
Congratulations, Hélène and thanks for blogging with me.
Hélène: Thanks for inviting me to your blog, Fleur. It’s great to be here and I love being part of the new combined Face Book page with you, Fiona Palmer and Bron Parry.
The four of us write very different stories yet the Australian landscape has a big presence in all of them. That started me wondering about what triggers each of us to pursue a story and its characters.
Border Watch started from three different events. In 1999 a rusty little fishing boat landed at Holloways Beach, just north of Cairns, with 26 illegal immigrants on board. The government agencies responsible for border security had no idea they’d got that far south until they tried to catch a taxi. In 2003 a man tragically drowned attempting to rescue his son and was washed up on a beach near where I live. Walking my dog early in the morning, I found his body. A couple of years later, the airline I worked for employed a number of pilots who’d flown for Coast Watch, the coastal surveillance operation in Australia. Their stories were awesome! From there Border Watch percolated, bubbled, fermented and eventually took shape – the possibilities were endless!
How did Red Dust start out for you, Fleur?
Fleur: The idea for Red Dust really just appeared one day, after my mentor told me he thought I had the talent to write a book. In between changing nappies and sleep deprivation, the idea just grew to what it is now! Thanks for asking!
Hélène: The colours of North Queensland had the biggest impact on me when we moved to Cairns. I was used to the crystal clear waves of the Gold Coast where the water is deep blue and green. In the north, the ocean is cerulean, azure, opalescent and sapphire – I’d never seen anything so clear, so vibrant, so breathtaking. One of the early flights I did was from Cairns to Lizard Island in a Twin Otter. On a clear day we flew at one thousand feet over the Ribbon Reefs. You could see gigantic coral bommies rising out of the depths to peep through the silvery reflection of the Coral Sea. Manta rays and sharks made dark shadows in the sandy shallows. Bright white beaches drew solid demarcation lines between the sea and the dark, dark green of the coastal rainforests. (And to my horror, time-poor tourists slept as we flew over this, exhausted from the long haul flights to Australia… I was tempted to induce some turbulence to wake them up…)
Colours are strong in your books too aren’t they, Fleur? It’s there in the titles – Red, Blue and Purple. Where do they come from?
Fleur: The colours are from the landscape and just seem to jump out at me, speak to me! I have to use them to show people that don’t live here how wonderful our country is. I would have tried to hit a huge air pocket to wake those tourists, how terrible they didn’t get to the aerial view!
Hélène: The other dimension to Border Watch is the people. ‘Laconic, laid back, stoic’ is the way Morgan describes them. Until you live in remote or regional Australia it’s easy to forget how demanding our climate can be. For North Queensland, the challenges of ‘The Wet Season’ are immense. When the monsoon trough descends from the equator it can bring deluges of biblical proportions. Rainfall is measured in millimeters and one hundred mls a day can be a normal occurrence. That’s around three inches on the imperial scale and is a whole lot of water! If you get four days of that, you’ve had a foot of rain and that has to go somewhere in a hurry. Bit of a bummer if you live at the foot of a hill (and we do!) as you’ll get the neighbour’s foot of rain as well as your own. Apparently Zeus (the demented staffie) has a wet bed today after the heavens opened last night… The locals take all this in their stride, roll up their pants, pop open their umbrellas and just get on with it!
The rhythm of speech is slower in the north. People tend to end their sentences with an upwards inflection. They take their time answering a question, weighing the words more carefully. It doesn’t make them slower, less articulate, just more measured. Yet they give friendship readily. We’d barely moved into our house before our neighbour had invited us to a BBQ. Twelve and a half years on, he’s still a friend as are the people we met over a couple of crispy sausages!
So what gives you inspiration to write a story? Is it a character, a scene, a place or a concept. We’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment and go into the draw for a copy of Border Watch – and yes we do post anywhere in the world!!
Border Watch, March 2010, Hachette Australia – A contemporary suspense novel set in North Queensland.
“When terrorists penetrate deep into Northern Australia, the only things standing between them and a successful attack is feisty Border Watch captain, Morgan Pentland, and aloof Customs agent, Rafe Daniels. Both Morgan and Rafe will have to overcome their own personal animosity if they’re to prevent carnage on Australian soil.”
Hélène, thanks so much for being here today – I wish you every success with Border Watch and am waiting with bated breath for Tuesday’s mail when my copy should be arriving!