I’m off tomorrow on a research trip for my new novel, working title Turtle Reef. I know we live in a time where a vast amount of information is at our fingertips through the internet, without even leaving our desk. Books, histories, documentaries and academic journals are available online, and they are invaluable for authors constructing stories set outside their regular world.
However it’s still important if possible to physically spend time with a setting to capture it authentically. No amount of reading could convey the true grandeur of the high country, or the enchanted forests of the Bunya Mountains, or the evening beauty of reflected stars in the Murray’s dark waters. It’s enormously helpful for writers to experience these things first hand. Smells are especially hard to grasp without being there. A vivid imagination can create a world, but the eye of a keen observer can truly bring it to life.
That’s why I’m off to Queensland tomorrow to spend time in cane country, and also on Lady Elliot Island at the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef. The blurb for my current work-in-progress goes something like this.
‘Unlucky-in-love zoologist Zoe King has given up on men. Moving from Sydney to the small sugar town of Kiawa means a fresh start and she is charmed by the region’s beauty – by its rivers and rainforests. By its vast cane fields, sweeping from the foothills down to the rocky coral coast. And by its people – its farmers and fishermen, unhurried and down to earth, proud of their traditions.
Her work at the Reef Centre provides all the passion she needs and Zoe finds a friend in Bridget, the centre’s director. So the last thing she expects is to fall for her boss’s boyfriend, cane king Quinn Cooper. When animals on the reef begin to sicken and die, Zoe’s personal and professional worlds collide. She faces a terrible choice. To protect the reef must she betray the man she loves?’
How fantastic, to be able to spend some more time in this beautiful part of Australia. The manuscript and I are going to have a ball!