Really excited to have another wonderful and talented Australian author as a guest today. Please make Heather Garside very welcome!
Breakaway Creek, is a rural romance written with a dual timeline. How did you come up with the idea?
Many years ago I read a book form my mother's bookcase, about a young woman who visited a cattle station and fell in love with a stockman, only to later discover he was of mixed heritage. The story was set in the 1950s when such things mattered! It resonated with me and became the premise behind Breakaway Creek.Another storyline in the novel was inspired by people I knew who had been through marriage break-ups and subsequent custody battles over the children.
You have a small farm, you are heavily involved as a volunteer in your town and you work in a library – lots of places to get ideas, BUT where do you get your ideas for your stories?
I wish I had more story ideas than I do. Generally an idea will come from real life, or perhaps something in a book I'm reading, which will resonate with me and spark an idea. Ideas can also be inspired by events in the news.
Tell us a bit about your current project?
It is set in rural Queensland in the 1890s.
When Mercy Forbes finds her abusive husband murdered, her shock is tempered with relief. But she hadn't expected the local Sergeant to include her and her son in his list of potential suspects. Add to that her growing attraction to the widowed Sergeant Morrison, and the situation becomes more fraught than she had ever bargained for.
Two city women - a century apart - find love and adventure in the Queensland outback.
Two love stories; two parallel lives; two destinies.
Set in the 19th and 21st centuries, Heather Garside's debut novel is a passionate rural romance of love and its consequences.
Shelley and Emma are separated by time but bound by a dark secret to a place called Breakaway Creek.
Betrayed by her long-term boyfriend, Shelley Blake has fled the city to return to her home town. Her interest in a photograph of her great-great-grandparents is piqued by her family's reticence about the mystery couple, and a search for answers takes her to the cattle station Breakaway Creek.
Here she meets Luke Sherman, a man embroiled in the bitter ending of his marriage and a heart-breaking separation from his two small boys.
Shelley resists an instant attraction to Luke, as neither is ready for a new relationship.
And, while Luke struggles to reclaim his children, Shelley uncovers the truth about her ancestors, Alex and Emma.
A story of racial bigotry and a love that transcends all obstacles takes the reader back to the pioneering days of the 1890s.
Heather grew up on a cattle property in Central Queensland and now lives with her husband on a beef and grain farm in the same area. She has two adult children.
She has previously published three historical romances and has helped to write and produce several compilations of short stories and local histories. The Cornstalk was a finalist in the 2008 Booksellers’ Best Award, Long Historical category, for romance books published in the USA. Breakaway Creek was a finalist in the QWC/Hachette Manuscript Development Program.
She works part time at the local library, at home on the farm and helps produce a local monthly newsletter, amongst other voluntary activities.
‘It shouldn’t be long now.’
Sarah wiped the woman’s sweating brow with a damp washcloth and hoped to God she was right. They were eighty miles from the nearest doctor with only an Aboriginal midwife and herself, newly married and ignorant. Things were looking desperate. After twenty-four hours in labour, Eliza was exhausted. The hot sun pounded on the tin roof of the maid’s tiny room and the heat from the kitchen next door exacerbated the stifling conditions. Sarah fleetingly pressed a hand to her own stomach and vowed her baby would be born in Clermont.
She flinched when Eliza screamed and threw her head back, dusky features clenched in agony as she writhed with another spasm. Sarah watched helplessly as the Aboriginal midwife made an exclamation in her own language and bent between the patient’s legs.
‘Is it coming, Mary?’ The woman didn’t answer, but Sarah heard the first tiny cry and her heart leapt in dizzy relief as the baby slid free. She moved closer to check. ‘You have a little boy, Eliza. Well done!’
For a moment euphoria pushed aside Sarah’s revulsion. She hadn’t realised what a messy, terrible business childbirth could be. The midwife grasped the wailing infant and cut the cord with the kitchen knife Sarah had provided, before wrapping him in a blanket and laying him against his mother’s breast. Weakly, Eliza fumbled with her nightgown, so Sarah helped her open it and guide the nipple into the child’s nuzzling mouth. Then she stiffened. For the first time she noticed the baby’s skin through the coating of blood and mucus. Her stomach cramped.
Her gaze jerked up to the black midwife’s frightened face.
‘What’s wrong, Mary?’
Mary pointed and Sarah stepped cautiously closer, nostrils twitching at the metallic smell; blood. It gushed from the birth canal, staining the bed linen in an ever-widening tide. She grabbed some towels and pressed them against Eliza’s body, but they did little to staunch the flow. Mary ran to the doorway and grabbed her dilly-bag, then moved the towels aside to pack handfuls of leaves in their stead. Sarah watched in dismay, wondering if the woman had any idea what she was doing. But who was she to stop her?
A touch on her arm made her look down at Eliza’s greying face.
‘Missus, will you look after my baby?’
The voice was reduced to a whisper, the dark eyes dull. Eliza was slipping away as surely as the blood poured from her body. Sarah glanced at the suckling infant.
‘Who’s its father, Eliza?’
Eliza’s lips moved and Sarah bent closer to hear the whispered words. She froze, all her suspicions crystallising into grim knowledge. Wave on wave of pain and disillusionment lashed her like the sting of the stock whip her husband used on unruly cattle.
Could she possibly take responsibility for this child? She wondered if she had a choice. Sarah straightened, drew her breath in deep, and said the words – God help her – she knew the dying woman needed to hear.
‘Yes, I’ll take him for you, Eliza.’