What's in a name?

Gabriella's year 4 Adélie Penguin

Gabriella's year 4 Adélie Penguin

People often ask why I wrote this particular book. It's a difficult question to answer! For me, it all started with wanting to write a romance involving environmental issues. The environmental aspect was to be climate change. But how to weave this into an upbeat romance? As soon as I had my characters the process wasn't too difficult - though I have numerous folders on environmental science and historical figures that have been condensed from hundreds of pages to mere paragraphs (and emails, posts and texts - you'll see what I mean when you read the book). I knew something about the legal regulation of climate change through work I'd done in this area, but I had a lot more work to do!

At first I thought my female protagonist would be an environmental scientist and I honestly can't remember when she became an environmentalist. Something to do with looking out for whales in Antarctica I think. So Harriet is an environmentalist who cares about global warming and the effect it's having on the planet.

National Geographic  November 2015

National Geographic November 2015

How about my male lead? This is where the whole Scott and Amundsen idea came about. The first manuscript I ever wrote (still a work in progress - now called On the Same Page) has a Norwegian male lead called Lars. I wrote 135 000 words of that manuscript without giving him a last name. Looking for inspiration I googled Norwegian surnames and came up with Amundsen, and a reference to well known Amundsens. One of them was Roald Amundsen, the first man to reach the South Pole. Norway was forging it's identity as an independent nation in the early 1900's (when Roald Amundsen's expeditions took place) - he is very well known not only in Norway, but (in the context of exploration, anyway!) around the world. I not only thought Amundsen would be a good surname for Lars, it sparked another idea for the climate change story that had been doing cartwheels in my mind for months. The end result was that my male lead for In at the Deep End would not only be a climate scientist but a naval officer (like Roald Amundsen) and the South Pole would feature!

My female lead Harriet became a Scott, namesake of the second man to the South Pole, the Englishman Robert Falcon Scott. I knew about Scott partly because my grandmother was a great fan. She read Elspeth Huxley's 1977 biography Scott of the Antarctic a number of times (her fond memories of him are why I kept the biography - even though I'd never read it until I started writing this book). So I guess Scott could easily have led me to Amundsen instead of the other way around. 

Australian Geographic July-Sept 2001 at 76

Australian GeographicJuly-Sept 2001 at 76

It was natural for Harriet and Per to meet in Antarctica's Southern Ocean. And everything that happens next flows from this setting. So … Robert Falcon Scott and Roald Amundsen, Harriet Scott and Per Amundsen. For me, the names started it all!

Elspeth Huxley,  Scott of the Antarctic , Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London 1977

Elspeth Huxley, Scott of the Antarctic, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London 1977

Walking Sydney

Still in the midst of editing my novel, which is why I have been an inconsistent blogger of late. But I have had a couple of days respite from editing and work to embark on something new - Wednesday walks of Sydney's coastline!  Last week I walked from Bilgola Beach on Sydney's northern beaches, to Palm Beach at the tip of the peninsula. Then back again to Bilgola. It was 16km on this circuitous route). This week's trek was from Bilgola again. Caught the L90 bus to Collaroy, and walked all along the coast back to Bilgola. Only around 15km yesterday but there were kilometres of beach to walk along on the route (and quite a lot of climbing over rocks to get around the headlands). Perfect Spring Sydney weather to walk in!

Now back to editing. When it is over I will have time to blog about it. But since much of In at the Deep End is set on the Northern Beaches peninsular, I guess this is all related to my writing. Note the picture of the rock shelf, crevice, and the lime green algae. A similar scenario marks a very important turning point in my novel!

Narrabeen Rock Shelf

Narrabeen and Collaroy beaches

Narrabeen and Collaroy beaches

Turimetta Beach

Turimetta Beach

London and home

I'm at Heathrow airport hiding scones from the First Class Lounge (I am not travelling first class - I was smuggled in).

I'm expecting my structural edit for In at the Deep End on Monday morning - I'll have a very busy two weeks after that! I'm really looking forward to the editorial process - my only regret is that I'll have to leave the characters from the novel I'm working on now to languish for a while…..

The Australian Romance Writer's Conference is on from 18 to 21 August. It will be great to spend a few days in Adelaide attending sessions, catching up with old friends, and meeting some new ones.

In keeping with my diary of the Coast to Coast walk, here are a few London photos. I'm posting horse ones because…why not! We had a great couple of days in London. The weather was great, and it was lovely to walk through the parks for hours at a time. 





So….last night I dreamed I was to teach a two hour blogging course to a group of students who wanted to improve their skills in blogging.  One of my biggest fears was that I had to connect to all these blogging people doing my course via Skype (or was it a conference call?). Whatever it was I didn't know the number/ address to connect with them, so I couldn't even get to the point of bluffing my way through two hours of telling them what to do in the blogosphere. This dream is obviously linked closely to my current state of mind.

But all is well because I have signed up for a two hour course on blogging. It will be held on Wednesday evening so I will report here. Or maybe I won't have to. The proof of the pudding will be in the eating…. 

Photo for today is of Daphne (and Donald Duck). Its only relevance to blogging is that it was taken at 5am this morning (after I awoke from my dream). Daphne represents my blogging students. I am Donald Duck, the blogging teacher.

Website Activation Day!

It's been a long weekend for the Queen's Birthday, but I haven't managed to do much writing. Then again, I have made a few useful notes. As Agatha Christie said, 'The best time for planning a book is while you're doing the dishes…' I was driving to Woolies when I had my useful thought of the day. Can't wait to record it!

Pathway for today is from the Ku Ring Gai Chase National Park...



Characters in literature go on a journey… and it's often a turn in the road, or the selection of a particular pathway, that determines where their stories will lead them. I'm walking across England in a few weeks time, so I thought this journey of mine might be a good way to start my blog. I'll also share my writing news - I'm waiting for my edits on In at the Deep End now - and give you updates on how some of my writing friends are progressing on their own roads to publication. Many are already published, so I'll be able to share their exciting new book news too.


A Blue Mountains pathway...