Remains to be Seen

Rated 4.00/5 based on 1 reviews
Short story, 12 pages approx. Undercover narcotics agents Michael O'Neill and Baby Johnson, still suffering PTSD from the Vietnam War, quit the Australian Bureau of Narcotics and move to the far north coast of New South Wales. Johnson hopes to renew his relationship with Star. O'Neill thinks settling down with long-time girlfriend Azure might be the solution - but that remains to be seen. More
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About Danielle de Valera

Until now, Danielle de Valera's been best known for her short stories, which have appeared in such diverse magazines as Penthouse, Aurealis and the Australian Women’s Weekly.
All in all, she's had a chequered career. She’s worked as a botanist, an editor, a cataloguer for the Queensland Department of Primary Industries Library and the John Oxley Library, and on the main floor of Arnott’s biscuit factory.
Although the 1st draft of her 1st novel Some Kind of Romantic was placed 2nd in the Australia-wide Xavier Society Literary Award for an unpublished novel, she abandoned writing for 25 years to raise her children, whom she raised alone.
She resumed writing in 1990. With Louise Forster she won the Australia- and New Zealand-wide Emma Darcy Award for Romance Manuscript of the Year 2000 with Found: One Lover.
Her first novel, Some Kind of Romantic, due out here in November 2016, was shortlisted for the Byron Bay Writers’ Festival Unpublished Manuscript Award in 2011, and for the UK’s Impress Prize in 2012.
A freelance manuscript assessor and fiction editor since 1992, she has won numerous awards for her gritty, streetwise short stories. MagnifiCat, a departure from this style, is her first published novel. It will be followed in 2014 by the The Children’s MagnifiCat.


It’s strange the way things pan out in life. My career as a writer almost didn’t happen.
I was in 3rd grade in primary school, slowly getting on top of things, when we were sent home one day with instructions to write our first composition.
I trudged home. My career as an even halfway-coping schoolkid was over. I knew I’d never be able to write a composition.
My mother was in the kitchen, preparing the evening meal. Unusual for him, my father was also home; there’d been very few ships in port that day. When he saw me slumped in misery at the kitchen table, he asked me what was wrong.
I said, “We have to write a composition about trees, and I can’t write compositions.” I began to cry.
My father put down his newspaper and said, “It’s okay. Whatever the subject is, you just talk about it.”
“Talk about it?” I wailed.
“Yeah,” he said, “like how they’re green and leafy and they give people shade. Do you like trees?”
Of course I liked trees. I practically lived in the loquat tree up the back.
“Have a go,” said my father, returning to his paper.
I sat there, chewing the end of my pencil, and tried to write as if I was talking about trees. This half-page took me the best part of an hour.
“How’d it go?” said my father, who must’ve been watching my progress from behind his paper. He read through what I’d written. “Not bad,” he said. “But it needs something.” And he dictated a line about leaves dancing when the wind blew; something quite poetic. “Slip that in somewhere,” he said.
I rewrote the piece, placing the line he’d dictated where, I hoped, a teacher was least likely to notice the extra zing it put into my dreary effort.

By the time the English teacher came into the room carrying our exercise books three days later, I very much regretted using the line my father had written. Now, it was all too late, as she began to deal with each composition in turn, from worst to best — a tried and tested form of torture even when your conscience is clear, and mine certainly wasn’t. Eventually, there were no exercise books left but mine. I was convinced she’d saved mine ‘til last because she intended to expose me before the whole class. Why had I let my father talk me into adding that line about leaves in the breeze?
To my surprise, she pronounced my composition the best, and read it out to the class. I felt no elation, though it was the first time I’d ever come first in anything. How, I asked myself, was I going to continue this run? My father was leaving in a few days for a job at sea. What on earth was I going to do?
We were given a new subject to write about. I trudged home and sat at the kitchen table. Nothing came. I felt like the girl in the fairy tale who was supposed to spin straw into gold. Or else.
In desperation, I decided I’d pretend to be my father. Clearly, I had no talent for writing, but he did. Okay, Dad, I said to myself, what have you got to say about pets? And I began to write.
I was stunned when that composition also came first. Around me, there were boys in tears, boys who hadn’t been able to get even four lines onto the pages of their exercise books.
I knew how they felt.
It was pure chance my father had been home that day.

About that Name

Danielle de Valera’s father claimed he was related to the controversial Irish politician Eamon de Valera on his mother’s side. But he told some tall tales in his time, and this is sure to be one of them. Born Danielle Ellis, she found that this name was replicated many times on the web. In searching for another under which to write, she remembered her father’s story and chose it as her writing name. But she feels any real connection is unlikely.

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Review by: Rita de Heer on Aug. 07, 2014 :
Remains to be Seen is a well realized slice-of-life story of the hippie times in the 1970/80's in Mullumbimby, Byron Shire, Northern Rivers of NSW. Any long time resident knows people who started here like that, if they don't themselves have an intimate knowledge of full moon dances at Kohinoor, the bath on top of the hill at Cooper's Lane and the sunshine cafe above Mitre 10. Those were the days of living in the dunes, in the old milking sheds, in the banana packing sheds, caravans and old cars. Everybody drank. Everybody smoked.

Remains to be Seen is full of the vignettes that make up life at the bottom of the ladder, as well as the heart-breaking flash-back adventure of the main character's tour fighting in Vietnam, which was the other great story of the time. The contrast is well developed, and yet shows realistically how the Vietnam experience segued into the hippies on the north coast experience.
(review of free book)

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