I’ve just been back to my home town, a trip I’ve been doing at least once a year for my mother’s birthday. She turned 94 and is well, but I’m always very conscious of the fact it could be the last time I see her. Of course I could die tomorrow myself but you know what I mean. Mum has already outlived her parents but her grandfather was 98 when he died, so we have good genes.
It always feels a little odd going home, because of course it’s not my home anymore. I’ve lived in Bendigo now for over 20 years and this is home but Mildura is where I spent most of my childhood and those teenage years I remember so well. It’s curious how places I’ve lived and people I knew pop up in my stories, almost of their own accord. Not that I would deliberately use any actual person in any of my fiction stories, but they are all influenced in some way by real people. At least the best ones are.
Place is something I’ve certainly made use of in stories and experiences of my own, like hitch-hiking to the river on a hot day and running across burning bitumen with bare feet, both of which I’m using in the story I’m working on now, ‘Dark Innocence‘. My last book, ‘Stony Creek’, is a rural romance and I used my own memories of living in Melbourne as well as attending a wool-shed dance in the outback as a child. I did grow up in a country town, but I had to research for that one, my knowledge of life in the outback being minimal. Quite a lot came from the recesses of my memory locker though! I suspect writing in 1st person makes it easier to access those memories and I chose to do that, as doubtful as I was at how that would be received. It’s actually doing very well on Amazon so there are clearly plenty of readers who are happy to read in 1st person.
So after driving around Mildura and visiting some of the old haunts with my sister, as well as a very nice new art gallery, and seeing my other siblings and a couple of nephews and nieces, I’m back home and happy to be here.