In 1923 nineteen-year-old Jack Manning watches the construction of the mighty Harbour Bridge and dreams of being more than just a grocer's son. So when he's offered the chance to manage Absolution Creek, a sheep property 800 miles from Sydney, he seizes the opportunity.
But outback life is tough, particularly if you're young, inexperienced and have only a few textbooks to guide you. Then a thirteen-year-old girl, Squib Hamilton, quite literally washes up on his doorstep - setting in motion a devastating chain of events...
Forty years later and Cora Hamilton is waging a constant battle to keep Absolution Creek in business. She's ostracized by the local community and hindered by her inability to move on from the terrible events of her past, which haunt her both physically and emotionally.
Only one man knows what really happened in 1923. A dying man who is riding towards Absolution Creek, seeking his own salvation...
From the gleaming foreshores of Sydney Harbour to the vast Australian outback, this is a story of betrayal and redemption and of an enduring love which defies even death.
In the course of her career Nicole Alexander has worked both in Australia and Singapore in financial services, fashion, corporate publishing and agriculture.
A fourth-generation grazier, Nicole returned to her family's property in the late 1990s. She is currently the business manager there and has a hands-on role in the running of the property.
Nicole has a Master of Letters in creative writing and her novels, poetry, travel and genealogy articles have been published in Australia, Germany, America and Singapore.
Random House Australia
Author: Nicole Alexander
Question: What inspired the story of Absolution Creek?
Nicole Alexander: The idea came from a story that my grandfather told my father in the 1940's; there is an area, 40km from our property called the Garah plain and in the late 1800s a child was travelling in the rear of a dray with family and fell off at some stage and was later on found wandering in the bush and the child was never reunited with the family because it was too young to speak. My father couldn't tell me whether the little child was a male or female but basically the child was brought up, by someone else. It may sound strange but such events really weren't uncommon in the late 1800s as the roads were so bad and a lot of travelling was done at dawn and dusk because of the great distance involved. That story is where I got the initial idea for the role of Squib Hamilton in the book as she is the little girl who falls off the wagon.
Question: What research went into writing part of the story in 1923?
Nicole Alexander: Starting off in 1923 was specifically to do with the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the research was quiet involved as I had to go to the Sydney State Library and the Mitchell Library. I went through a lot of old, archival material which has all now been photocopied and microfiche which made it reasonably easy to access. What I was specifically looking for was firsthand accounts from people of the period so I could get a real feel for the disruption that occurred there. A hundred families and businesses had their properties resumed by the government for nothing in order to make way for the bridge approaching from both the north and the south side of the harbour.
It took a couple of days to start getting the information together and then I found a tutorial history of the north shore in the State Library book shop and that had all the photographs of what the areas had looked like in that time period that I was looking at writing about which was really helpful.
Question: What did you enjoy most about writing the character of Squib/Cora Hamilton?
Nicole Alexander: Squib Hamilton is the young girl who falls of the dray in the 1920s and she grows up to become Cora Hamilton. I always like to have quiet strong, engaging characters in my work because that helps to drive the narrative forward and keeps the reader interested and engaged. With Cora Hamilton I wanted someone who was going to live her life faced with great difficulties from what she had experienced in the past as she was physically hurt when she fell from the dray, forty years prior and emotionally wounded by what happened in that period of her life as well. I wanted her to be an inspiring character and also a damaged character because most of the characters that people write about are flawed in some way and they have to be flawed because humans are not perfect.
Question: Are you currently writing another book?
Nicole Alexander: I am indeed; Sunset Ridge will be released in September of 2013. Sunset Ridge is partly set in France during First World War.
Question: How is your tour for Absolution Creek going?
Nicole Alexander: I'm currently in Ballarat for an event and I've been travelling around Australia for two and a half weeks of the four and a half week tour.
I am in Victoria for another week and then I have a day in Sydney before flying up to far north Queensland for a six day library tour which will be very interesting as I am going to remote areas where some places have no book sellers and it's a little unorthodox because I am physically buying the books from Random House to be couriered to the areas where there are no book stores and I can sell them to anyone who is interested in purchasing them. I am a part of the National Year of Reading this year and I know what it's like to live in a remote area where you don't get a lot of cultural opportunities including visiting authors; I'm very excited to go because I meet so many great people.
Interview by Brooke Hunter