Writing is in my blood. My grandfather was editor of the newspaper at Wood’s Point in its heyday. My mother, Alice, was a great story teller. My great aunt, Mary Fullerton, was a novelist and poet, and a friend to Miles Franklin. But a greater influence was my father, Doug Scoullar, who had been a jackeroo in Queensland. Later on he began a nursery specialising in native plants, long before it was fashionable to do so. Dad was a man ahead of his time. He passed on to me a lifelong love of horses and the bush.
As a child I was an avid reader, and felt a very special, secret connection with animals and plants. I wrote stories and poems, beginning my very first novel when I was eleven years old. I think it was some sort of a plagiarised version of Elyne Mitchell‘s The Silver Brumby. Anyway, I thought it was terrific. I wrote three chapters, before I lost the manuscript, and cried for at least a week. I knew I’d grow up to be a writer.
But things change. I think every one of us, has something important, deep down inside, that we always meant to do. Then life takes over, and you don’t do it. That was how it was for me. I went to university and graduated in law. I married, had kids, got divorced, became a foster mother to many more children … and all the while that little, annoying, nagging voice – that voice of me as a child, reminded me that I was supposed to be a writer. I’m very grateful for that voice. In his wonderful essay Why I Write George Orwell says, “… if he [a writer] escapes from his early influences altogether, he will have killed his impulse to write.”
One day, out of the blue, I picked up a pen. It was like I’d come home. I loved the rhythm of the prose and the pleasure of getting a sentence just right. I loved how everything happened exactly the way I wanted it to, in my imaginary world. Now I live with my family at Pilyara, the beautiful property in the mountains that was left to me by my father. The lovely photo on the front page is of the old stables he built. My house is on a hill-top, overlooking valleys of messmate and mountain ash. A pair of old eagles live here too. Black tailed wallabies graze by the creek. Eastern Spinebills hover among the callistemon. I gave up working in the law a long time ago. I’d rather write.