Monthly Archives: April 2016

What Elise Wrote-Castle of Dreams

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What Elise Wrote-Castle of Dreams

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

Unknown-2 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:‎

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What Elise Wrote-Castle of Dreams


I have received the proof copy of Castle of Dreams! I can’t wait now to see the final version which will have embossing on the cover and be printed on fine quality paper and have the final text.

The cover was designed by the talented Kirby Armstrong and when it was sent to me I knew it was perfect for my story.

The woman on the cover of Castle of Dreams is just how imagined Vivien in my story would look like.

Here is an excerpt.

Castillo de Sueños, 1935
Vivien and Rose Blake rushed out through the heavy front doors of Castillo de Sueños, yelling to their mother they’d be home before dark. Too late Vivien remembered she’d promised to help Ma in the propagating shed with the orchids and lacy maidenhair ferns, but all day the rich scent of wild honey-suckle climbing over the loggia had drifted through the open windows, and now that lessons were over, outdoors beckoned irresistibly. Feet barely touching the mosaic tiles, the girls ran across the loggia, down the wide stone steps, and across the lawn towards the rainforest.

Vivien had spent her childhood exploring the rainforest with her younger sister. Both girls had been born in Ireland, the cold, rainy place of their mother’s stories. Vivien was three years old and Rose only a baby when they’d left, their mother fleeing her violent, drunken husband. The only home either girl had ever known was this castle in the rainforest. They knew every ancient tree, the names of every flower and bird. They had learned to swim in the natural pool under Mena Creek Falls. Together they’d hurry down the staircase from the castle to the patio, and dive from the board into the cool water. The creek rose in the mountains, flowed down from the high country and wound its way through virgin rainforest before plunging over the falls to the pool below. No matter how far the girls roamed they never lost their way, because every path eventually led back to Castillo de Sueños.

Some months ago I went to a local shopping centre that I don’t normally visit and met a lovely Spanish lady called Maribel and it was her who told me how the Spanish word for castle should be written (the last word in the excerpt above). From what I could source online it’s called a tilde (~) pronounced: tilday it turns the “n” into a “n-ya”. And Maribel (what a beautiful name) is coming along to the launch of Castle of Dreams. It was indeed a serendipitous happening when I met Maribel.

Castle of Dreams is a dual narrative story and Chapter One is set in Babinda in far north Queensland in 2008 and we visit the farm where Stella the granddaughter of Rose grew up. Rose is an old lady now and never talks about her past. Stella knows her grandmother has secrets and when Rose becomes ill Stella determines to find out what they are before it’s too late. But there are perils in visiting the past .  . .

Castle of Dreams is a story about love, betrayal and secrets. It will be published on 27th April, 2016.

Have a lovely day, Elise




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Filed under Allen & Unwin, Castle of Dreams, Elise McCune, What Elise Wrote