Newsletter MARCH 2021
One of the great enjoyments of writing historical fiction novels is in doing the research. This fourth novel takes the protagonist to Mount Isa. I lived there for a while, some years ago, but am ashamed to say I did not look further than the surface.
Once more I am reminded of the strength, courage and resilience of past pioneers. The Isa and the mine were still in their infancy in 1933. The conditions were almost impossible to imagine but the photos I found presented hints of what the men and women coped with.
I am gob-smacked. Not a pretty word, or a clever word but it says exactly what I feel.
Current Weather and Tides
Days filled with reading and writing. Meetings with writing groups have been resumed in most cases – things one has been reminded, in no uncertain terms, to appreciate.
Roll on the vaccine. May it be all we want it to be.
Keep safe. Keep smiling. Keep reading. Keep writing.
A Pearl for your Enjoyment
This homework was my response to a prompt the class was given “She ran a finger over the raised pattern, trying to think of how many times she’d done that as a child.”
STORY MACHINE CASTLE
It sat in the silence upon her dressing-table next to the carved wooden music box with the ornate surface and inlaid coloured patterns. The castle was not much bigger, in size, but its fillagree work and magnificent turrets had absorbed my attention for many hours of my childhood. As I peered into the mirror of the dresser, a grey-haired woman looked back. Unshed tears glistened in her eyes.
Once again, my fingers ran over the never-forgotten pattern of the Story Machine Castle. The turrets and castle roof hinged back slowly to reveal the three sections within.
Her soft voice echoed in my ears from a time long ago. “Go on, Simone. Pick a card from the character box first.” My fingers rummaged amongst the selection of thick cardboard pieces each the size of a fifty-cent coin. Each one had a picture of a character on one side and the name of the character and occupation on the other. Today I chose ‘Mrs. Garrity – Farmer’s wife’. Between Gran and I, we had told many fine tales of Mrs. Garrity – Farmer’s wife. I sat the piece upon the dressing-table top with Mrs. Garrity and her missing eye, lost over years of wear-and-tear, face up.
My hand moved to the middle section where similar cards resided but these each named a different type of story genre. My hand backed out with the card marked, ‘Mystery’.
While running the cards through my fingers in the third division of Gran’s Story Machine, I closed my eyes as I had done so many times before and made my selection. ‘19th Century’ in faded print could be deciphered on one side of the card and ‘Sailing Ship’ on the other. My story to tell must be set in the nineteenth century and a sailing ship must have a high profile in the story.
The three cards lined up in a row stared back at me: ‘Mrs. Garrity – Farmer’s wife’, ‘Mystery’, ‘19th Century – Sailing Ship’. Memories of the tales Gran had told using this combination swirled within my head in a mixture of her fluid voice. The strongest and most memorable of these was the true story she told of her lost love.
Martin had stood like a demigod as he edged his ship The Marcia from the Sydney dockside. His bosun yelled orders like drum rolls as the crew scrambled up the lines to release the sails. They all sweated in the southern summer sun. The Marcia was heading to Hobart where the colonies desperately waited for the supplies within the deep holds. Alas, The Marcia was never to be seen again. The ship disappeared without a trace. For years other vessels passing on that route had kept a lookout for some evidence of remains but nothing was ever discovered.
At this point in her tale, my grandmother’s voice broke. Tears trembled on her wrinkled cheeks. She had been left to bring up her family of three boys and two girls alone. Only the memories of the good times spent with the love of her life, her Martin, kept Gran going strong. Now they will be together again in a world beyond. And now my tears fall. Tears that had remained solid and unbelieving during the entire funeral ceremony.
Slowly I replaced the cards and softly closed the lid of her Story Machine Castle.