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Writing about Australia in the 1860s is a trying historic task - but I selected the period and the city of Melbourne for that was the place and time my great grandparents settled. It is just that I have to work hard to get all the physical aspects dead accurate - the type of public transport, the common types of food, the style of male and female dress, the common crimes of those days. A four-in-hand did scamper along on the best coach roads but over a day's travel it was still an average of about ten miles an hour, taking in the stops at team change stations.
There are great research sources, such as community historical groups and government archives, as well as what the internet throws up. Professional photographers were wandering the countryside by then, recording family groups and big street scenes. In most of the family groups the head of the house was usually seated, attired in his best Sunday clothes, while behind him stood his wife and perhaps a daughter or two, then if there was a youngster he or she sat at the feet of their father. These photos were carefully scripted - father looking most grave, perhaps hands resting on his cane, the female hair and clothes beautifully arranged in a manner never worn that way before or after.
What is hard to find are the truly contemporary casual street photos of what the people were really doing, day to day. There are sources for what is available from 150 years back but the heap is quite thin.
The style of writing for historic mystery narratives is a fair distance from my earlier scribblings, covering courts and local government for radio and newspapers but the same topics are still with us, which makes the whle process fun.
My first book was Eleventh Horse; if Robin Cork hadn't volunteered for the Maori Wars in New Zealand, he would not have had a life-and-death axe fight on the Waikato River, he wouldn't have needed to recover in a country village back home, wouldn't have been in the midst of murderous cattle and horse thieves nor would village women have set their eyes on him. But he did meet one woman who was most concerned about the visible and not so visible wounds he carried.
You can contact me at email@example.com. Love to hear from you.
on Oct. 17, 2012 :
Derek is a fabulous author. I have been reading his copy for 30 years.
He is always good
(reviewed the day of purchase)
on Aug. 28, 2012 :
Asolutely loved this exceptionally well writen informative story which contains factual & historically acuate info about early Melbourne life, I would recommend it to all detactive buffs.
(reviewed long after purchase)