I’m writing the final chapters of the last of the Centralian Trilogy. This book tells the story of Melissa Gilbert, who was first introduced in The Red Heart.
That may seem surprising because Melissa wasn’t the nicest of people – possibly readers would not have thought that her story warranted telling. She was rude and obnoxious and it was due to her behaviour and fabrications that she and Kathy Sullivan were put in a life-threatening situation when the aircraft Kathy was flying had to make a forced landing in the bush. Melissa had to make a humiliating admission and apology.
I started to wonder about Melissa and what drove her to act the way she did. As I was to learn though, there was more to her than most people realised. Living on Plenty River Station, Melissa and her father did not often get into Alice Springs and as most of her schooling had taking place in Sydney, she never got to know other young people of her own age. Consequently, she remained a bit of a local enigma. What others saw as a haughty reserve was a cover for her true feelings and emotions.
Getting to know her was initially a challenge but I have enjoyed writing the book anyway. A comment from a beta reader who has been assessing the first chapters is that there are significant differences in style between the first and third books and I like to think that it is indicative of a maturing of my craft.
My working title, Picture This – quite likely to change but it gives me a focus, and these photos that have been the background to the structure of my writing.
Can’t wait for the ending to be revealed!
I moved to Melbourne a few months ago and since then have been looking for new writing connections. I have discovered the Melbourne Writers’ Group and also the local Romance Writers’ Group and have made valuable connections in each. Having the support of like-minded people is so helpful on what is a solo journey. I have also submitted some work (a short story and a couple of poems) to an anthology that will shortly be published by Melbourne Writers with the theme “Ties that Bind”.
I am currently half-way through book three, which will be the last of the series set in Alice Springs. This novel, with the working title of Picture This, features Melissa Gilbert, who was a rather unlikeable character in book one, The Red Heart. Getting to know Melissa has been a challenge and I really had to delve into her backstory in order to understand what motivated her to behave the way she did.
Living in an apartment now instead of a large house with all the gardening and maintenance issues has made writing a little easier in that I now have more time for it. I live quite close to my day job and so have time for a short period of writing in the morning, or at least thinking about the plot lines and where it is taking the story. Perhaps when I have finished the current series, the next book will be set in a bustling metropolis as an interesting contrast.
View from my balcony at sunrise
Happy to make connections with any other lone writers in Melbourne.
This weekend, I am attending my first conference for the Romance Writers of Australia. It’s an action-packed program with something for everyone. I’m looking forward to the networking and to all that I will learn – not just about the craft of writing but about the industry.
I am pitching to four new publishers, and have spent today collating thoughts and information. I’ve also gone back to the manuscript for The Red Heart to give it another read through. It is amazing that even after I have read it numerous times, and spell-checked and edited, and even after the editor engaged by the publisher reviewed the manuscript, that I have still found a couple of typos and grammatical glitches. As I have read, I also tweaked and done the odd nip and tuck, taking out words or descriptors that really do not add anything of value to the story. I am embarrassed now thinking of the clumsiness of the original text. At least I am improving.
I have also added a new thread running throughout the story, expanding on the conflict between the key characters and which will also lead into book two in which I tell Sarah’s story.
The cocktail event on Friday night should be a blast. I don’t often have an opportunity to bring out the bling but sure will for this occasion. It will set the rest of the conference off with a bit of pizzazz. Perhaps I’ll even come up with some new story lines. I’ll have a drink for you.
I love the way that characters develop a life and personality of their own. Sure we create them initially, but at that point we probably don’t fully understand their attitudes, their sense of humour or how they are likely to react in any given situation. We don’t know what they are going to do next. As I sit in front of that sheet of paper or the keyboard, these people develop motivations of their own and I am constantly surprised at what they do. I am there to keep them focussed, but take their directional journey with them.
That’s not to say that the characters have full rein, as I know in general terms what their purpose is within the story – each character is there for a reason – but I draw the stick figure and the story fleshes that person out. I enjoy getting to know them as the story progresses.
Some stories flow easier than others and The Red Heart was one of those. It helped that I had lived for many years in Alice Springs and also that this was where I learnt to fly. I knew the country from the air, I knew the characters and of course I knew the technicalities of flying.
Today, there are many women who make aviation their career but at the time in which this story was set, there were still barriers to women as pilots. The attitudes encountered by Kathy were very real. It is a real buzz for me now therefore to get onto a commercial flight, knowing that there is a woman on the flight deck.
I don’t know where Kathy is now, but perhaps she has progressed to the flight deck, still using Alice Springs as her home base, or perhaps she has settled on Mulga Downs with a brood of young jackaroos and jillaroos. What do you think she would have done?