My new novel, Bright Spirit, is a story that is heartbreaking but also full of hope. I can’t wait for you to meet my characters: Lizzie and James, Mrs Rawlings, Connie, Ben, and Tom. Set in the mid-nineteenth century, the novel begins in Creswick Creek, Victoria where Lizzie, a young orphan, can barely believe her good fortune when she is offered a home with strangers. Chance takes her to Ballarat, and its fields of gold, where she meets James, a man of God, and on to Moonta, a copper mining town, in South Australia, where to escape a life of poverty she unknowingly brings disaster into her life. It is a novel of love and desire in a time when it was dangerous to be a woman.
My story is inspired by one particular woman in history I could not forget after reading about her. Then, as these things sometimes do, by way of serendipity, several years ago I was a guest speaker at the Batlow Writer’s Festival. I was staying in a guesthouse, sadly destroyed in the recent devastating bushfires, with other authors, when one evening, as we sat around at the end of the day, drinking wine as one does, I mentioned my idea to a fellow writer. It was he who encouraged me to start writing Lizzie’s story. When I arrived home, even though I was writing another book, I started researching more about this women who has been long forgotten and so my story came into being. I went to Adelaide to research Lizzie’s life further, I lay flowers on her grave, and picked up a small stone from it that now sits on my desk.
Bright Spirit was an emotional book to write: women and men were not equal in the nineteenth century, I knew that,and women were trapped by poverty, I knew that too, but I was shocked by how being born a woman, could mean the difference between life and death.
Now I am on the final edit. Wish me luck!
Warm wishes and stay safe,