After finishing university, Amelia Bennett returns to her home town. Determined to lose her old reputation for being scatty, she works hard to prove herself as the treasurer of the local rodeo committee.
Flushed with triumph on the evening of the best rodeo in the town's history, Amelia is driving the bags of cash into town when she becomes the victim of a terrifying smash and grab. Injured and distraught after her ordeal, she's even more devastated when she finds out that she and her boyfriend Paul are the objects of suspicion.
To prove her innocence and that of the man she loves, Amelia must convince a sceptical detective that her account of what happened does add up and that he must help her track down the real culprits…
With its cracker plot, feisty heroine and engaging love story, Emerald Springs will have you reading well into the night.
Fleur McDonald has lived and worked on farms for much of her life. After growing up in the small town of Orroroo in South Australia, she went jillarooing, eventually co-owning an 8000-acre property in regional Western Australia. Fleur likes to write about strong women overcoming adversity, drawing inspiration from her own experiences in rural Australia. She is the best-selling author of Red Dust, Blue Skies, Purple Roads, Silver Clouds and Crimson Dawn. She has two children and a Jack Russell terrier.
Allen and Unwin
Author: Fleur McDonald
Question: How did you come up with the idea of Emerald Springs?
Fleur McDonald: I was having a conversation with my dad, who is the treasurer of the Carrieton Rodeo committee. I was asking how he transported the money that had been made on the night to wherever he had to get it to. He said he just drove to where he needed to get to.
I thought this was really odd, because he'd be carrying quite a bit of money.
-What happens if you are pulled over and the money taken?' I asked. -You're in the middle of nowhere and on dark country roads. There would be no one around to help you.'
Dad gave me one of those -Fleur, your imagination has run away with you again,' looks and said: -That's not going to happen out here.'
I pondered that for a little while and then said: -But I can make it happen,' so I did!
Question: What was the biggest challenge for you when writing Emerald Springs?
Fleur McDonald: I was going through some personal trials at the time so concentration and headspace was the biggest issues for me at the time.
Other than that, it was researching the methods that Dave-the-detective would have used in the investigations. I did that through many phone conversations with -the real' Dave Burrows, Dave Byrne who used to be in charge of the Stock Squad in WA.
Question: How much of your inspiration comes from real life and real people?
Fleur McDonald: I guess the settings are always from real life. I live in country areas so I know I can write about them in a way that people will relate to.
Using people I have met or know in a story can be a little difficult, just because people don't always like the way the author portrays them and it's not something I've done often. (Although in Crimson Dawn I loosely based a character on Rural champion, Catherine Marriot). I prefer to take features of loads of different people and roll them all in to one character.
Question: There are several issues raised in this book. Was this deliberate or did the story evolve this way?
Fleur McDonald: I always like to bring up some of the issues face in Rural Australia. I'm so lucky to have to the ear of many people, I believe it's my duty as a farmer and writer to highlight things that we face in the country.
Milly, from Emerald Springs, struggles with her own identity and the impressions that people have formed of her from when she was a child. As busy mum's and wives we tend to get caught up in everyone else's lives and forget about our own, and we can loose ourselves. That's something I've been struggling with over the passed year or so – remembering who I am, so I made Milly like this too.
Question: What's next, for you?
Fleur McDonald: I'm writing my 7th book titled Indigo Storm. I'm in the process of researching that at the moment and will start writing as soon as I get back from touring Victoria and Queensland.
Interview by Brooke Hunter