I have something of a tendency to fall in love with places. My first love was New Zealand’s almost unbearably beautiful Central Otago, with Queenstown and its alpine village charm at its centre. My next great love was Munich, a fling on a northern hemisphere jaunt supplanted by Dublin not long after (possibly for its literary heritage), which was ultimately arrested by a so far unrequited love of Paris and all things French (the one place I’ve managed to fall in love with, without actually visiting).
And then – rather inexplicably came an abiding fascination with Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia.
Maybe it’s the old fashioned main street feel at its heart, perhaps it’s the rare quiet (for Sydney) of the pedestrianized town centre, free of emission belching noisy vehicles, or maybe it’s the Parramatta River that ambles its way inland from the mighty Sydney harbour, but more likely it’s knowing that beneath the surface of a town now bursting around its edges into a rather utilitarian satellite CBD and transport hub is some of Australia’s most important history.
Standing on the land that was Elizabeth Farm, or on the banks of the river, or in front of Saint John’s church in the town centre, I can close my eyes and hear the clip-clop of horses hooves, the yells of a foreman commanding his convict work gang to put their backs into it, the chink of hammers on stones…
The place has always given me goose bumps, but at least now that I’ve written His Convict Wife, I finally know why.
Writers talk about characters that come to life to such an extent that it seems as if the character is not only real but that they’re the one actually telling the story. And what the character says and does, comes instinctively as if there’s no creation involved on the author’s part – almost as if the writer is channelling the character.
The first time it happens it’s exhilarating – words flow from the finger tips onto the keyboard as if by magic.
It is also just a little bit spooky.
Colleen Malone was not only one of those characters, she was that way right from the get-go. The spirited Irish convict, stitched up and transported for a spurious crime, didn’t so much as gradually come to life, as arrive fully formed hovering above my computer screen.
One hand up in a fist, her hair an angry mess of brown curls with eyes blazing she invoked the fairies to come mete out a gruesome punishment to someone who had crossed her.
Working out who, and why, took a whole novel to unravel…
Title: The Convict’s Wife by Lena Dowling
Publisher: Harlequin Enterprises Australia
Imprint: Escape Publishing
Genre: Historical, Romance
Length: 165 pages
From the author of The Convict’s Bounty Bride comes a new Australian historical about a free settler and the wife he chooses from a workhouse…
For Irish convict Colleen Malone, being framed, transported to Australia and forced into prostitution seemed like the worst that life could throw at her. Then she fell pregnant to a client and was sent back to prison by her cruel owner. Now, her only hope of a decent life for her and her baby is to find someone to marry.
Widower and former London businessman Samuel Biggs arrived in Australia hoping to put his grief behind him. When James Hunter offers him a job on his Parramatta farm, he accepts eagerly. He’ll put his back into his new work, and bury any thoughts of new love and marriage in the rich earth of his new home.
However, all plans are compromised when Samuel is manipulated into visiting a workhouse to choose a new housekeeper, and Colleen seizes her chance — literally grabbing Samuel and begging for her life. The only way Samuel can oblige is by marrying her, but on one thing he stands firm — there is no way he will fall in love…
Please click HERE to read my review of His Convict Wife