I presented at an amazing range of regional Australian writing events in 2019: from the Boonah Writers Festival to the Rainforest Writing Retreat at O’Reilly’s to the Terror Australis Readers and Writers Festival in the Huon Valley.
As a guest, duties often include being seated at a dinner table with a dozen participants to dazzle them with writerly wit and regale them with writerly tales. Ha! So instead, I usually ask these wonderfully astute readers and budding writers about their hometown stories: hauntings, scandals, crimes. These conversations are a fascinating and effective short circuit to the heart and history of a place and its people.
That year, each anecdote I collected became a secret ingredient to a new story brewing in the depths of my witch’s hat. I attended a ghost story workshop by another festival guest, the extravagant Jack Sim, and the story came together, slithering and snapping onto the page almost faster than I could follow.
Thus, The Midwife’s Garden was born. A short Gothic story of two sisters surviving nineteenth-century outback Queensland by burying the town’s secrets, and their own, in their family garden. But we come to wonder in horror what haunts the current-day residential home that lies on the same plot…
Only ARC copies are available to date, but rave reviews so far include my savvy sister-in-law Chrissy who cursed me roundly for scaring her so, and then asked for more.
And a shout out to all the regional festivals and the awesome people and stories gathering there! In this time of lockdowns and struggles, the only way we can travel is to dive into the past – so please, whisper to me the scandals and hauntings your hometown keeps secret!