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I grew up in a small town in the bush in Queensland, Australia. I spent my time with my head in a book, or outdoors – climbing trees, playing in dry creek beds, or fishing for yabbies in the railway dam under the big sky. Some of my favourite memories were visiting my grandmother’s sheep farm in rural New South Wales where my father had grown up. She was a fifth generation grazier, a lover of history, and a great and gentle teller of stories. My childhood gave me two passions: a love of the Australian landscape and a fascination with words and stories.
I left the bush at 13 when I went to boarding school in Brisbane. I stayed on there to study law and literature at the University of Queensland. After, my work as a lawyer took me first to Sydney and then all over the world, to London, Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo and New York. But I always carried in my head a strong sense of my childhood: the people, the history, the light and the landscape. Those images have never left me and they would eventually become The Woolgrower’s Companion. It’s a story I’ve felt I had to tell. The success of my first novel meant I could go on to write the standalone sequel The Burnt Country, which has also been popular with my wonderful readers. I’m working on a third novel now.
I currently live in London with my husband and our two young children. But I miss the Australian sky.
The idea for The Woolgrower’s Companion came to me out of the times and experiences of my grandmother on my father’s side. She spent much of her life on her family’s sheep property in rural New South Wales, including throughout the Second World War, when Italian prisoners of war were assigned there.
Her recollections of life on the land, the impact of the War and drought on the district, the circumstances of the Aboriginal people, and the strict social codes in place during her girlhood, evoked a sometimes wonderful, sometimes terrible place, which I wanted to capture on the page. Apart from obvious historical events, though, The Woolgrower’s Companion is fiction.
The Burnt Country is a standalone sequel to The Woolgrower’s Companion.