When marketing executive Tessa Mathison leaves London to attend her great-aunt's funeral in Australia, her life is in turmoil.
An indiscretion during a boozy night out has resulted in Tessa's name being mud in London's cliquey marketing scene, and soon after she arrives in her homeland she discovers she's been sacked. Tessa's childhood home, Danjar Plains, is an isolated station which holds some bad memories for her. She plans to escape it as soon as the funeral is over, but then an unusual request in her Aunt Violet's will makes it impossible for her to leave.
When charismatic and charming Brendan McKenzie introduces himself to Tessa, staying at Danjar Plains no longer seems such a hardship. As various secrets begin to unravel, Tessa realises letting go of her heart may hold the key to unlocking both her past and her future.
From the author of the bestselling outback sagas, Red Dust, Blue Skies and Purple Roads, this moving novel is about making peace with the past, overcoming fear and insecurity, and the healing power of love.
Fleur McDonald grew up in Orrorroo, South Australia but completed her secondary education in Adelaide. After school she spent a couple of years jillarooing in the outback. She now lives with her husband and two children on an 8000-acre station near Esperance in Western Australia.
Allen and Unwin
Author: Fleur McDonald
Question: How do you find time to write whilst working on your family's 8000-acre station in regional Western Australia?
Fleur McDonald: Oh, I wish I knew the answer to that question! I actually spend a lot of time, these days helping out my Mother-in-law, who is unwell, so between that, farming and running around after the kids, my writing time feels like it's non-existent!
But I maintain that if you love something you will make time to do it. I can say I don't adhere to any particular writing schedule (it would only get broken if I tried to and then I'd get cranky!) I write when I can and don't get cross with myself if I can't.
Sometimes I see a break in the traffic and think: -Oh, beauty. I've got five minutes, I'll write that scene I've been planning in my head,' race into the office and stand in front of the computer and bash something out, knowing I don't have time to sit and still be standing there half an hour later!
Really, I just write when I find the time.
Question: How much inspiration does your writing take from your day to day life?
Fleur McDonald: Well the scenes and setting are taken from my day to day life and what I've experience in the past. It's been a while since I've spent much time on a northern cattle station, but I remember, vividly, what it was like. So for Silver Clouds, which is set on a station out on the Nullarbor. There isn't mains power and so they have to use either a generator or solar. They do put people who have passed away in their cool room, because it's the only way to stop decomposition. So everything about station life is different to what I experience farming closer to big towns or what is lived in towns or cities.
The stories can come from anywhere though (something I hear on the radio, which is what happened in the case of Silver Clouds) something I read or hear.
Question: What was the best thing about creating the character of Tessa Mathison?
Fleur McDonald: I loved writing Tessa. Out of everyone I've written, she is my favourite. When she jumped into my head, she was a wild, dark haired, girl with a seriously bad attitude. By the time I'd finished with her, I thought she was pretty nice (I just wish a few strokes of the pen could wipe the bad attitude from my teenage daughter, as easily!) and she played the part I wanted her to.
She's flawed and a bundle of both insecurity and goodness and that just made her so much fun to write.
I enjoyed seeing her evolve to become I person I needed her to be and that was probably the best bit.
I'm not convinced her story has finished at the last line of Silver Clouds, either.
Question: What goes into creating a location such as Danjar Plains?
Fleur McDonald: For me, not a lot of research, because I spent so much time on stations when I was a kid. Most school holidays, through out primary school I would visit Bond Springs Station, which where my Aunty and Uncle live, not far out of Alice Springs. You know how some memories are burned into your head, when you're a kid? Well I've got heaps of those from that time; dingo's howling on moonlit nights, my Uncle's old ute, rattling out of the house compound at ten o'clock, every night to turn off the generator. I remember how my Aunty would drive into Alice and get a -bush order' from on of the big supermarkets – that meant she would send a telex (do you remember the old telex machine?) with her order and it would be waiting for her when she arrive.
All these memories help created Danjar Plains.
Question: How important is it for women to make peace with their own past to overcome fear and insecurity?
Fleur McDonald: Personally I think it's imperative. Most of us have things we're not proud of in our past, something we're scared of. If we run away or let these take us over, which Tessa does, we won't be able to move forward. To me, forgiving yourself is the key and sometimes this can only be done with love of someone who accepts you no matter what.
Question: Are you currently working on another novel?
Fleur McDonald: Yes! This time next year, Crimson Dawn is due out and I'm hurrying to get more than a few lines written each day to make my June deadline.
I can't tell you much about it yet, (mainly because it all isn't cemented in my head yet!) but it's set down in the south of South Australia and once again will have a mix of family mystery and farming.
Allen and Unwin
Author: Fleur McDonald