This week’s guest on Books Spark Joy is Darry Fraser. Apprenticed on a number of contemporary novels in her early career, Darry returned to writing her favourite genre, Australian historical fiction in 2016. Her first published novel, Daughter of the Murray, began a series set in the 1890s on her beloved River Murray. Darry’s books are set in a rural landscape, and her new novella, Edge of the Blue (2019) is set on fictional Australis Island, which very much resembles her home. The Good Woman of Renmark is due out November 2019, and is the last in the Murray series. Darry lives and works on wild and beautiful Kangaroo Island off the coast of South Australia.
Over to Darry …
My love of Story and books has always been there and by the time I was capable of physically handling a book, I was already enthralled. Story captivated me: the action, the adventure, the characters, the setting. Good vs evil, and I always loved it best that Good won, of course, at least in Story. That might be why I tend to write Happily For Now, no matter what genre. I love to read and also to write a really good Not So Happily At All, but in this day and age, an uplift is always sought after.
As soon as I had pocket money, the book buying began. I’d always had books given to me, as well, and early in life had learned the wonder of libraries. However books came to me, I loved to hold the tomes in my hand. Over the years there were many, many books of all genres, sizes, authors, subjects – 95 per cent all fiction, until a love of a good biography got me. Every so often, I’ll return to that genre for a good read. My great love, some might have already guessed, is historical fiction. I write Australian, but I love all hist fic.
And speaking of all those books, it got to a point where there were so many, it began to be quite difficult to pack up and move, which I’d seemed to do every couple of years over a long period of time. Something had to give, and so with great reluctance, but with the knowledge that the books would all be re-housed and loved again, I gave away or donated hundreds.
Now I have settled a little, and have stopped moving quite so often, I found that I had kept very few books but that they each had a Story to tell in my life. Some of them were not even mine – I have my Grandma’s favourite book of Italian arias, or my Mum’s carefully transcribed first edition copy of one of explorer Sturt’s diaries. There’s a number of first editions I’ve inherited, and a number of well read and much loved books, along with signed copies of books by my favourite authors.
The long weekend just gone here in South Australia has given me a much needed re-set after a two rounds of intense book edits within a six week period of time. So – I, along with a friend over for a fun weekend catching up with mutual mates, went window shopping (I already had my eye on a yellow chair), and things being what they are in a small country town, I was given the key to a shop and came home with bits and pieces for my reading nook, now revamped and popping. This is where I come once I’ve emerged from the (writing) batcave. At my back are my favourite old friends, containing within their covers their Story, but also warm memories of long distant days, of losing myself in Story, and the instant recall of what it felt like to take the gift of a book in my hand and be grateful that the giver knew what it meant to me.
Story and books are my life now, more than before. They’re not something I can ever do without.