Tag Archives: What Elise Wrote

What Elise Wrote-Harold and Maude

I like dark humour. The cult movie Harold and Maude (1971) is my favourite movie of all time.

Director Hal Ashby has made an optimistic film about an old lady and the recurring suicidal tendencies of a confused young man in this film. It has a unique charm and hits upon a universal nerve. The inevitability of life can be disconcerting but Harold and Maude find little pieces of joy in the most obscure places that make living all the more worthwhile.



Leave a comment

Filed under Elise McCune, What Elise Wrote

What Elise Wrote-Anzac Day


The 25th of April was officially named Anzac Day in 1916. ‘ANZAC’ stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. On the 25th of April 1915, Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of the allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli peninsula.

A series of serendipitious happenings have led me to have a great interest in war and also the homefront where so many stories lay waiting to be discovered.

My uncle, William Lucas was killed in a later war on the Kokoda Track in New Guinea. I never met Bill but his wedding photo, on display in the lounge room of my childhood home, was all the more poignant because his young bride Ethel had predeceased him.

In the school I attended as a young child a painting of the Gallipoli Landing hung in the stairwell. I climbed those stairs every school day and always paused a moment to look at the painting.  I can still see the desperation in the young soldiers’ faces as they climbed towards the unseen enemy on the hill.

I have written about the lost thoughts of soldiers and Dave Sabben MG who was a commander at the Battle of Long Tan has been a true friend in sharing his thoughts on war and its aftermath.

My first novel is set partly in WW2 and Book 2 in WW1.  In both stories I write about the  impact war has on soldiers and also on family and friends left behind on the homefront.

This Anzac day, while I will remember Bill and his final sacrifice, I’ll also remember my family and especially my grandmother who lost her only son.


Private John Simpson Kirkpatrick with his donkey


The will of a Gallipoli hero, Private John Simpson Kirkpatrick, was recently discovered by the State Records Office (SRO) in Western Australia and is now on display to mark Anzac Day.

Simpson and his donkey became symbols of the Anzac spirit, famed for transporting wounded Australian and New Zealand soldiers from the frontline at Gallipoli to safety in 1915.

According to the Australian War Memorial website (a wonderful source of information for a novelist), Simpson was born in England in 1892, joined the merchant marines at 17 and eventually made his way to Australia.

In August 1914, he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force and started training at Blackboy Hill camp near Perth.

Simpson disembarked for training in Egypt and it was there, just weeks before his death, he pencilled a will on April 6, 1915.

‘In the event of my death, I give the whole of my property and effects to my mother Sarah Simpson,’ he wrote.

Simpson was posted to the 3rd Field Ambulance and landed in Gallipoli on April 25.

As a stretcher bearer he decided he would enlist the help of a donkey to carry the wounded.

Only three weeks after landing Simpson was killed by a Turkish bullet during a journey up Monash Valley to help wounded soldiers and became a national symbol of sacrifice and courage.

In the photo of Simpson he has a cheeky grin. I’d liked to have known him.




Leave a comment

Filed under Elise McCune, What Elise Wrote

What Elise Wrote-For the Love of Writing

It’s only a week now until Castle of Dreams is published by Allen & Unwin. I have a Norwegian publisher, Cappelen Damm, and my Norwegian editor is Jorid Mathiassen who wrote to me:

‘I am your Norwegian editor and I love your book, it’s such a wonderful story!’

Wonderful, that one day I will hold a copy of my novel translated into Norwegian.

To be a storyteller is magical. I’m often asked about the process of writing and the simplest answer I can give you is to read. When I was four years old I read picture books with text to my younger cousins and because I couldn’t understand many of the words  I made them up to match the story. The art of storytelling is a long one in history. Think of Scheherazade, a legendary Arabic queen and the storyteller of One Thousand and One Nights and of times past when before the written word stories were told around fires at night.

Have you heard the maxim ‘read everything’?   I don’t agree. Read only what interests you and read good writers of fiction. How else will you learn to write? If you read everything you certainly won’t have time write a novel. If you read rubbish it will creep into your narrative. Join a library if you can’t afford to buy new books and study  the structure of the novels you read.

Stop watching television if you don’t have time to write a novel. It’s amazing how many hours can be spent watching television each week; enough time in which to write a novel.

If you work during the day perhaps get up an hour earlier. A page a day is a novel in a year. Time to write should be a right and not a privilege.

Don’t treat writing like a hobby but rather as the job you love best in all the world.

Have a lovely day,




Leave a comment

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

What Elise Wrote-Pablo Neruda

Perhaps one of Neruda’s most beautiful love poems Poema 20 comes to life with classic footage of Rudolph Valentino.

Pablo Neruda has always been my favourite poet. He had the soul of an angel.


One of 21 video poems in Four Seasons Productions newly released Moving Poetry Series – Three innovative new films – RANT * RAVE * RIFF. Poema 20 was written in 1924 by Pablo Neruda. The poem is recited in its native Spanish by Carlos Alfaro and includes English subtitles translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin.


Leave a comment

Filed under Elise McCune, What Elise Wrote

What Elise Wrote: Castle of Dreams

Thrilled to let you know the rights for Castle of Dreams have been sold by Allen&Unwin to Norwegian publisher, CappelenDamm. The publisher is very well known and extremely reputable.

I loved writing Castle of Dreams a story set in Australia and weaving the two storylines together. I felt immersed in the story from the start. It is set in two time periods: WW2 and contemporary times. I had visited Paronella Park some years previously and never forgot the sense of mystery and decided the castle would hold my story together.

After three novels in the bottom drawer, a memoir, and a lost romance novel I was thrilled when Louise Thurtell from Allen&Unwin’s innovative Friday Pitch made me an offer to publish Castle of Dreams. I can’t speak more highly of the support I received from the whole team at Allen&Unwin and they did enjoy the cake my daughter and grandchildren delivered to their office in Crows Nest in Sydney!



Leave a comment

Filed under A Writer’s Notebook, Allen & Unwin, Castle of Dreams, What Elise Wrote

What Elise Wrote-Castle of Dreams

Like a lot of writers I had trouble thinking of a name for my story. When Castle of Dreams was finally selected from various other titles that had been suggested I didn’t realise what an intriguing title it was: the stuff of legends and myths. Now I have a link from my story to a fairytale world.

Think of King Arthur’s Camelot and the Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty castles. Vivien and Rose the two sisters in my story grew up in a castle in the rainforest in far north Queensland.

Real world castles are just as magical and most often are linked with stories and fairytales of their own. I have a board on Pinterest called ‘castles’ but I must admit I haven’t added any to it for some time now. Busy with writing Book 2 and the publicity for Castle of Dreams.

Bran Castle can be found in a ghostly and remote corner of the Carpathian Mountains in Romania. It sits high upon craggy peaks within Transylvania, bringing vampires to mind.



More to my liking are fairytale castles from the movies of Walt Disney.



And this is the castle that was the inspiration for Castle of Dreams.

Paronella Park in far north Queensland.

This photo shows the beauty of the castle ruins.  12924442_1211785945501244_3096888427000293893_n.jpg

Have a lovely Sunday

Good writing, Elise

Leave a comment

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

What Elise Wrote-Castle of Dreams

Found on Instagram12920387_10154304254189384_162470706636004089_n.jpg

Leave a comment

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

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:




Leave a comment

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

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




1 Comment

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

What Elise Wrote-Castle of Dreams

cropped-castle-of-dreams-facebook2.jpgA ruined castle deep in the rainforest holds a secret that unites three generations of women: two sisters who find themselves in love with the same man as the Second World War rages and, decades later, a young woman determined to uncover the secrets in her grandmother’s hidden past.

Growing up together in a mysterious castle in northern Queensland, Rose and Vivien Blake are very close sisters. But during the Second World War their relationship becomes strained when they each fall in love with the same dashing but enigmatic American soldier.

Rose’s daughter, Linda, has long sensed a secret in her mother’s past, but Rose has always resisted Linda’s questions, preferring to focus on the present.

Years later Rose’s granddaughter, Stella, also becomes fascinated by the shroud of secrecy surrounding her grandmother’s life. Intent on unravelling the truth, she visits the now-ruined castle where Rose and Vivien grew up to see if she can find out more.

Captivating and compelling, Castle of Dreams is about love, secrets, lies – and the perils of delving into the past . . .

Castle of Dreams is exactly the sort of story I love to read.



Leave a comment

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