My debut novel, Blackwattle Lake, published by Hachette, was released on 27 November.
A captivating story about learning to forgive.
Blackwattle Lake is available for Kindle at Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/aazqvbh
In paperback: Booktopia:http://tinyurl.com/b2248vy
Also available at Dymocks, Unleash, Target and Big W or ask your local bookstore to order a copy
Read 5 star reviews of Blackwattle Lake at Goodreads here: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15853652-blackwattle-lake
Excerpt: In this scene the main character Eve, accompanied by her best mate Banjo the kelpie, makes a visit to town and discovers that keeping a low profile isn’t going to be as easy as she’d hoped.
‘Angie Flanagan. Long time, no see.’
Eve’s feet were rooted to the floor. Her knees locked and her stomach flipped. She pictured the face before she turned around, but when she did the image of the scruffy blond farm boy she’d imagined hardened into that of the handsome, solid man who stood before her. Thankfully, it wasn’t the face she’d anticipated.
‘Grant.’ She said his name in such a hush of relief that she didn’t even know if he’d heard her. They stood looking at each other, not speaking.
‘You two know each other, then?’ the older man asked.
Grant answered first. ‘Yeah. Yeah, we do. Tom, this is Angie Flanagan – Nell’s daughter.’
‘Oh, right.’ Eve could tell by the lilt in Tom’s voice and the nodding of his head that he’d heard the stories. It got her back up. She hadn’t come here to provide the town with a new source of gossip.
‘Actually, it’s Eve now, not Angie. Eve Nicholls. Nice to meet you.’ She reached her hand over the counter and surprised Tom into shaking it before she turned to Grant and did the same. ‘How’ve you been?’
‘Good. And you?’ ‘Not bad. You know, clinging to the wreckage.’ She laughed awkwardly. Her cheeks felt hot and she knew she was blushing.
Why the fuck did I say that?
‘Sorry about your mum,’ said Grant. ‘Things won’t be the same around here without her. Shame you couldn’t make it back for the funeral.’
Eve sighed and looked out the door to where Banjo had taken himself to lie in the shade of the van. ‘Well, we weren’t exactly the best of friends, Nell and I, as you know.’
‘No. But family . . . anyway. It’s good to see you again. Jack should be here any minute – you ought to hang around, say hi.’
‘Yeah. I assume you remember him.’ Grant gave Eve a smirk. ‘He and I bought this business a few years back.’
Eve felt herself shrinking at the mention of Jack’s name. The prospect of running into him right now wasn’t something she wanted to risk.
‘Okay. Well, I can’t really stay, have to get back to the mare, see you around. Bye, Tom.’ She grabbed the bottle from the counter and hotfooted it to the kombi, feeling four eyes burn into her back all the way across the car park. She turned the key and revved the engine, reversing and driving out, giving the two men a wave and feigning a smile as she left.
Back on the road Eve sighed into the seat, shoved the gearstick into second then third, getting as much distance between herself and the town as possible. ‘Shit, Banjo. I haven’t even been back for twenty-four hours and it’s already getting tricky. I knew it. Why can’t people just get on with their own fucking lives and keep their noses out of everybody else’s?’
But she already knew the answer to that question. In a town as small as Yarrabee your business was everybody else’s. It was part of the deal, part of the reason you lived here – the sense of neighbourhood and community, the sense of all for one and one for all. It was only when you broke the code, asserted your individuality, did things the ‘town’ frowned upon, that you became a pariah. And that’s when the whole idea of being part of something bigger than yourself got ugly, that’s when you knew it was time to leave.
Eve pressed the button on the CD player, hoping that music would drown out the hum of frustration in her head. The mournful sound of Tracy Chapman flooded through the speakers, something about an old lover, not really what she was after. She flicked the switch and laid Tracy to rest.
Of all the people to have bumped into on her first day back in town, why did it have to be one of the Mitchell brothers? But it could’ve been worse – it could’ve been Jack behind the counter. That would’ve really topped off her morning. Grant still looked pretty good, considering it was twenty years on. She wondered how time had treated his brother.
There was only fourteen months between the two of them and back then they’d looked almost like twins. All these years she’d pictured Jack as a cute eighteen-year-old, the age he’d been the last time she saw him. When she’d been driving back yesterday, thinking about who might still be around, who she might have to prepare herself to see, Jack hadn’t even been on the list. She thought he’d be long gone. All those hours they’d spent daydreaming about getting out and seeing the world, leaving behind the life of small towns and even smaller minds. And he was still here.
The road took a sharp turn. Eve slowed down, realising she’d taken the long way back from town without meaning to. Funny how the brain can switch into autopilot. If she’d known sooner she would have stopped and turned around, but now it would double the length of the trip. She steeled herself for the words on the sign up ahead, tried to focus on the road. But she didn’t have to look to know what it said: Blackwattle Lake.
Her fingers tightened around the steering wheel as she accelerated. She turned the music back on and pressed ‘random’, hoping for something more upbeat to take her mind off the past. P!nk’s ‘Funhouse’. That was better.
She wound down the window and let the wind stream through, blowing her hair all over the place as she sang. The crisis had been averted, no harm had been done and the sun was shining. In fact, the closer she got to being back at the farm and around the horses the calmer she felt. Until the chorus started up, and she remembered she had her own collection of evil clowns in the closet.
She flicked the stereo off again and drove home in silence.
Signed copies of the book can be purchased from me for $25 including postage. Please email me for further information at firstname.lastname@example.org