evening, 22nd November, (along with fellow writers Anna Westbrook, Alexandra Joel and Sulari Gentill) at the incredibly atmospheric Stoneleigh 50 (Chippendale, near Central Station, Sydney).
Thank you to Sandi Wallace for inviting me to play Meet my Character for a blog hop. MEET THE CHARACTER Answer these questions about your main character from a finished work or work in progress: 1.) What is the name of your character? Ginger Lawson. In the 1940s thread of the book, she’s a sixteen-year-old feisty and naive redhead who goes to the Blue Mountains to pose for a notorious artist, Rupert Partridge. In the year Ginger is at his home, Currawong Manor, Rupert’s family suffers a triple tragedy: his wife, Doris is killed by a train, his daughter, Shalimar drowns and Rupert vanishes. Ginger knows the real truth of what happened to the family. In the present day thread when she’s in her seventies, she’s finally ready to reveal her secrets.
2.) Is he/she fictional or a historic person? Fictional, but I was inspired by Pearl Goldman, who was one of painter Norman Lindsay’s favourite muses and models between 1938-1945. I was fortunate to hear Pearl speak at the Norman Lindsay House in Springwood just after starting the book and was really impressed by Pearl’s vivacity, glamorous flamboyance and being so active in her 90s. She added a lot of spark to Ginger.
3.) When and where is the story set? In the Blue Mountains in the fictional upper mountain village of Mt Bellwood between the 1940s and present day and the surrounding bushland of Owlbone Woods. The Blue Mountains is an area I’ve lived in and I’m constantly drawn back to. I love its mysterious valleys, misty landscapes, creative people, gothic atmosphere and changing seasons. 4.) What should we know about him/her? Beneath the seeming confident and self-obsessed facade of Ginger is a young girl willing to do anything to escape her mother’s fate of being one of the ‘Surry Hills rats’ of the 1940s. And not to believe Ginger’s version of events too closely…
5.) What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life? By not revealing what really happened to the Partridge family in the Blue Mountains. Ginger’s had to live with a lot of guilt and anguish over the years. She made two choices back in 1945 that affected many people and she has the burden of the consequences of her silence. 6.) What is the personal goal of the character? The goal of Ginger in the 1940s thread is to escape the drudgery of Molly (her mother’s life) and to become an independent earner. She represents women in Australia in the forties who entered the workforce with the male population away in World War II – and the impact of that transition upon the women of Ginger’s generation. In the present day thread, her goal is to reveal to Rupert’s surviving relatives the truth of what happened to Rupert and his family on the 9th November 1945.
7.) Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it? The working title and the title are one and the same – Currawong Manor.
8.) When can we expect the book to be published or when was it published? Currawong Manor was published by Pan Macmillan Australia in June 2014. I hope you enjoyed this brief instruction to my character and now it is my turn to tag two writers. I have tagged: Kim Wilkins who also writes commercial women’s fiction novels under the pseudonym of Kimberley Freeman. Kim’s an award-winning writer in children’s, historical and speculative fiction. She has an Honours degree, a Masters degree and a PhD from The University of Queensland where she is also a senior lecturer. You can read more about Kim HERE And I’ve also tagged Karen Brooks who is the author of nine books, an academic of more than twenty-years experience, a newspaper columnist and social commentator, and has appeared regularly on national TV and radio. Before turning to academia, she was an army officer for five years and prior to that, dabbled in acting. You can read more about Karen on her website HERE If these writers choose to accept their tags, you’ll be able to read about their chosen charcters on their websites the following Thursday 27th November. Love and Light, Josephine
Currawong Manor has everything I love in a novel – a decaying house creating a dark and oppressive setting (enhanced by the mountain location), a heightened sense of suspense, a slowly-unfolding mystery, and some sinister characters (including the house and the nearby woods). There are also secondary romantic elements, which add to the tension. The standout feature for me was the sense of place; because it was captured so well, it made me want to plan a holiday to the Blue Mountains sooner rather than later.
For those who love a good gothic-style mystery, add Currawong Creek to your to-read list – I highly recommend it. I’ve added Pennicott’s 2013 novel, Poet’s Corner, to my to-read list.
Thank you, Monique. The rest of the review can be read on her review site HERE. I was most taken with the fact she used a painting from Frederick McCubbin, The Lost Child as I was working with that image on an early draft of Currawong Manor. It also means a lot to me when I can make people long to revisit a place through my prose.
Feeling absolutely helpless in the face of the madness and violence of the world. I’m making things up to keep sane. I’m in control there.
One of the surreal moments of writing is just as you submerge yourself into the world of your present project and you’re flipping between states of exhilaration and despair – you’re suddenly having to do publicity for your previous book. I enjoyed two author events in Newtown in June, presented by my local bookstore Better Read than Dead.
First a glamorous High Tea which which I was gratified to have sell out very quickly. Thank you to all who bought tickets.
I was interviewed by Mischa from BRTD and it was a joyful moment to see so many faces from this local area that I’ve connected with over the years. When you don’t have family living near, these connections become so valued. Parents and teachers from Daisy’s baby years – to friends I’ve remained steadfast through all of life’s changes: also many unfamiliar faces, who came to discuss books and creativity. It was a delight to have such an enthusiastic, interactive audience.
The following Tuesday night I spoke at Newtown Library with my favourite librarian and book club member, Gayle Donaldson, about the influences and stories behind Currawong Manor.
Thank you to everyone who braved the winter chill to watch my slide show and have a peep at my working notebook. I’m planning a future post on my notebooks. And thank you to Better Read than Dead for the image via their Instagram feed above.
Better Read than Dead provides a valuable link in the inner-city with its focus on building ties in the community between authors and books. I consider myself fortunate to live in an area where a bookstore is such a buzzy place. If you live in the inner west – check out what’s happening from their website; attend some events or join one of their book clubs. I was inspired by a friend who came to my High Tea solo; saying if she had brought a friend, she’d clutch onto her and not mingle. It’s a good practise to take yourself out of your comfortable zone and make new connections: it’s stimulating and keeps you young.
If you would like a signed copy of either of my mystery novels Poet’s Cottage or Currawong Manor, if you contact Better Read than Dead HERE, I’m happy to pop into the store and sign a copy for you which they could post out. If you already have bought books, if you contact me through my website or Facebook Author Page, I’m happy to send you signed bookplates.
When you are writing, imaginary people become so close that sometimes you forget you do need to mingle in the ‘real’ world with 3D people. It’s been a pleasure to connect and be inspired by community.
And I was totally exhilarated to see that as a result of my events, Currawong Manor shared the No 1 spot that week with the Legend Herself in Better Read than Dead – so many thanks to all who supported my book.
Don’t forget to check back to see the results of my Giveaway.
Keep yourself creative. In Love and Light, Josephine
Currawong Manor has been receiving some very positive early reviews:
Academic, columnist and author, Karen Brooks’s review you can read in full HERE:
The settings are richly and beautifully drawn. You can smell the flowers, feel the cold press of the snow or the dewy warmth of a humid summer. Likewise, as the mystery unravels, you can feel the whispers of the past and the weight of guilt that hangs upon those who carry their secrets, determined to protect themselves and others. Like the birds that occasionally darken the eaves of the house, doom walks through the pages and reading Currawong Manor becomes a visceral experience – at once exciting and dramatic. A Gothic treat for lovers of mystery, family dramas, history and suspense.
Shelleyrae at Book’d Out says:
An impressively crafted literary story, Currawong Manor is an absorbing and dramatic tale. Full review HERE
Kathleen Easson at Aussie Mum Network:
There is more than one mystery to be solved within these pages. The book contains hints of Agatha Christie, the kitchen and garden of Sunday Reed and subtle references to various famous artists including Norman Lindsay. I could not put this book down, it was an enjoyable and easy read. I look forward to further works by this author. Full review HERE
A reminder that on Tuesday 24th June, I’m talking at Newtown Library with Gayle Donaldson and so hope to see you there if you live locally. You can book tickets for this event. HERE.
And I made a video where I’m talking about some of the inspirations behind Currawong Manor including my brief meeting with Pearl Goldman, Norman Lindsay’s life model and muse. I hope you enjoy. Please feel free to share with any people you think might be interested in the book.
Keep yourself creative.
In Love and Light
Over the next two weeks, I’m going to post a couple of Youtube clips I made for Currawong Manor. This first one is a peek at the palette of the book that I was working with. Next week, I’ll post a video where I’ll talk about some of the different inspirations for the book. I hope you enjoy this glimpse into the world of my gothic mystery. If you feel like sharing it with kindred spirits in your online life, I’ll be most grateful.
Love and Light,