27th March 2017
Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski – thriller set in imagined Northumberland. Six Stories is...
Flight to Coorah Creek by Janet Gover, book set in Australia.
A debut novel from Janet Gover who grew up in the Outback and does a terrific job of transporting her reader to this arid, red, and dusty part of the world: she truly captures ”the splendour of the Outback in all its moods”.
Her characters have for the most part fled appalling personal circumstances and find themselves in the remote fictional town of Coorah Creek, essentially a community populated by people who care for their own. Kindness is the byword.
Jess arrives as the new pilot for the Beechcraft that flies Adam, the local doctor, to tend his patients. The area he has to cover is huge. Ellen has arrived with her two children, is seeking refuge from a violent past and she and Jess, as the new arrivals in town, bond in their lodgings, rooming above the local pub.
The author has a real gift for adding flesh to her characters, they are credible, although they can be somewhat irritatingly taciturn when it comes to affairs of the heart (and of course, this is a romance novel so there has to be some miscommunication and thwarted feelings along the way). The men are men, and the women are resilient yet feminine. All in all what more could you need in a book? And pleased to hear there are more stories set in Coorah Creek coming up!
And now we hand over to Janet to answer the questions that we were dying to ask her:
TF We were absolutely transported in our mind’s eye to the Australian Outback. You have lived there for quite some time. How did you yourself experience it, positives and negatives?
JG I remember when I was very small, the family moved from Victoria to Queensland and my first reaction was – Great! Now I can have a pony. I did get a pony. Several of them. Followed by larger horses. You get the idea. It was great living somewhere I could have horses.
As a teenager I hated the remoteness of it all. I lived a long way from the nearest coffee shop or movie theatre or other teenage hangout. I couldn’t wait to escape.
When I did leave – I suddenly found myself missing so many things. I missed the closeness of the communities there. Everyone knows everything about everyone – which can be a drawback. But at the same time, when things go wrong, everyone helps everyone else, and that’s just wonderful.
I missed the beauty of the wide open spaces. The stars at night are like to other place on earth. Breath-taking. I married an Englishman, so am primarily based in London now, but I go back to the bush as often as I can, and it always feels like coming home.
TF Your novel is such a great tribute to the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS). You have experienced their professionalism first-hand. How did you research the technical details that appear in the novel?
JG I fell ill while visiting Uluru, and was flown back to Alice Springs by the RFDS. I will always be grateful to them for their wonderful care.
In researching the book, I enlisted the help of a pilot for the technical bits of flying a light aircraft. A doctor friend helped with the medical details, and a flying dentist (not quite the same thing – but close) was there for other parts or the research. I am always amazed that people are so helpful. I e-mailed a government official to check the status of a hospital in one small town, and he came right back with an answer.
TF We were charmed that you offered the name of one of your characters to be auctioned (funds to the people of Haiti) and ‘Andrea’ duly makes an appearance in the novel. Please tell us more how that came about.
JG I was living in the US at the time, and on a flight from New York to Miami, I was seated next to a woman who worked for a charity. She was on her way to Haiti to continue the work they were doing there.
She explained that they didn’t want to just give money to people – but rather to help them rebuild their lives. Learn new skills that would help them support themselves. They were reopening schools closed by the disaster, providing farming equipment. That sort of long-term help.
I admired the work she was doing, but I have no skills I can offer to people in that sort of terrible need. I thought I might be able to help in another way, so I offered to let them auction the naming rights for a character as part of their fundraising.
I was so pleased it helped, even if just a little. Unfortunately, I lost touch with the woman who bought the name. So Andrea, if you are out there – please get in touch.
TF What are you currently working on and will ‘setting’ be a character in its own right?
JG I am almost finished writing a second novel set in Coorah Creek. I love the idea of the reader coming back to a place they already know. Some of the characters in the first book also appear in the second – but we get to know some new characters too.
I want my reader to feel a part of something – as if they too are coming home. I have ideas for several books set in Coorah Creek. There are a lot of people there with stories to tell. The town has a story to tell too.
TF You have a lot of writing experience. What advice would you offer to others who want to try and get published?
JG The publishing industry has changed so much in recent years – small publishers are challenging the big ones, e-books are grabbing such a big slice of the market, bookshops are closing and then there is indie-publishing. It can be confusing and a bit overwhelming.
Remember – the most important thing is the book. Write the very best book you can. If necessary re-write and polish it until it’s ready. When you have written a good book – the rest will sort itself out.
TF What is your favourite world destination and what books do you choose to take with you?
JG A few years back, my niece asked me how many countries I had visited. I stopped counting at just over forty. It must be over fifty now. My favourite city in the world is London – where I now live. Walking across Waterloo Bridge at sunset is a joy.
Favourite country – probably Australia, because that’s where I grew up. There are so many memories for me there. Every time I go back, I can feel it in the air as soon as I hop off the plane.
As for books – I am a firm convert to the e-book. I used to have to take half a suitcase of books everywhere I went. Now – I take 400 books in my handbag – you can’t beat that. There’s romance and crime and fantasy – all genres. Because I think a good book is a good book – whatever the genre.
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