It’s now only five weeks to the launch of Castle of Dreams. I can’t believe it’s so close. I’ve spoken in the past about the inspiration behind my story but I thought I’d tell you a little bit more about my first visit to the castle ruins at Paronella Park.
A fortunate stroke of serendipity.
I was staying in Mission Beach and went with my daughter and grandchildren to visit a local tourist attraction in the rainforest: Paronella Park.
Jose Paronella was a Spanish immigrant, who came to Australia from Catalonia in 1913. Jose was born in the small village of La Vall de Santa Creu in Catalonia on 26th February 1887. Like many Southern Europeans, he worked in the north Queensland cane fields. He eventually saved enough money to buy his own farm and by buying and selling farms and other investments he became a wealthy man. Jose’s grandmother had often told him night time stories about Spanish castles and his dream was to one day build his own castle.
The natural swimming pool under the falls at Paronella Park.
It was some years after my visit that I decided I needed to do a little research on Jose Paronella and his castle of dreams. I wanted to know more about the Catalonian immigrant and what brought him to Australia. And when I discovered that the castle had hosted Australian and American servicemen during the Pacific War I knew I’d found the key to my story.
Castle of Dreams (still standing structure after the cylonic flood washed away most of the castle)
Robert Shine the fictional American soldier in Castle of Dreams is not based on any particular American soldier but after researching the Americans in wartime Brisbane I created a soldier who comes from a place in Northern California called Paradise.
A photo of Jose and Margarita Paronella at the castle
Jose as a young man
I then emailed Luke Evans who does the publicity for Paronella Park. With Luke’s knowledge and love of the park and his enthusiasm for my project he gave me endless help with my many questions about the history of the castle and its eventually loss during a cyclonic flood.
Here is the link to Goodreads giveaway for Castle of Dreams: