Hi Nicole, welcome to Café Cala,
It’s great to have you visit Café Cala. I Iove your books and The Great Plains is no exception. I devoured it recently after having you speak at a venue on the Sunshine Coast. It was delightful to meet you there. I’ve been making some savoury goat’s cheese, sun-dried tomato and basil muffins this morning. Would you like tea or coffee with yours?
Yum. Love a coffee. Thank you.
1 Where did you get the idea for The Great Plains?
It’s always my imagination that drums up an idea, however I have a father who is a big fan of westerns and of course I’m inspired by the Australia’s bush heritage. So with The Great Plains my aim was to write an epic narrative that told the story of two lands, two frontier worlds, Australia and America and the people both settlers and indigenous who inhabited those countries. During the American Civil War, a confederate soldier, Joseph Wade gets caught in a skirmish and is killed, his young daughter, Philomena, abducted by the legendary Geronimo of the Apache Indians. This is Philomena’s story, and also that of her descendants, strong-willed women, whose destinies are altered by fate and whose lives are hampered by the prejudices of society and the mixed-blood that runs in their veins. It’s also the story of the powerful Wade family across two continents, America and outback Australia and the men who became obsessed with these women as well as the families who struggled against adversity during periods of enormous change.
2 What have you found most rewarding about your writing?
I love getting out and promoting reading and writing in regional, rural and remote areas. When I tour each year (usually for a month) many places don’t have book stores or if they do they rarely have authors to visit because of their location. The promotion of literacy is a cause dear to my heart and living in a remote area myself I know how much people appreciate it when authors get off the beaten track, so to speak, and visit.
3 How did you start writing?
I started writing over twenty-five years ago but my interest in the craft started long before that. In my early teens I read a novella by the great American author Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and The Sea. I loved the book. The battle of man versus nature, at times, epitomised by own families struggles which the harshness of bush life and it was this novella that inspired me to write. My passion for the written word began as a hobby. I wrote travel articles, poetry, genealogical works and the odd short story gradually building up a list of publishing credits which lead to my first novel, The Bark Cutters published in 2010.
4 What would you say has helped you most?
I’ve always been a disciplined person that likes a challenge (luckily-writing a book a year isn’t for the faint-hearted).
5 What are you working on at the moment?
My current work-in progress is set in 1830s Australia and will be released towards the end of 2015.
6 What advice would you offer aspiring writers?
Read widely and often and rewrite your work until the seed becomes a shining pearl. Dedication, persistence, timing and luck all come into play when hoping for publication.
7 Which authors do you enjoy reading?
I have very eclectic tastes. I read everything from historical tomes, Edward Rutherford, Diana Galbaldon and Phillipa Gregory through to Lee Childs, Wilbur Smith, Kate Grenville and Patricia Cornwell. If it’s a great story I’ll read it.
[Excerpt] The Great Plains
‘There was a white woman with the Apaches.’
Aloysius stood, his chair falling backwards to land with a loud thud on the timber floor. He scanned the contents of the letter.
‘The similarities are strong,’ Clarence said evenly, ‘but obviously we cannot be assured that the woman mentioned is –’
Aloysius tapped at the letter. ‘They say she is blonde-haired, striking in appearance,’ his eyes grew misty, ‘and aged in her thirties.’
‘The details are compelling, I admit but I urge you, my friend, not to get your hopes up,’ Clarence replied carefully.
‘It’s her. It’s Philomena.’ Aloysius’s voice grew tight with emotion.
‘I know how long you have prayed for this moment, Aloysius, but the probability that this woman is indeed your niece remains slight.’
The single sheet of paper trembled between Aloysius’s fingers. ‘They have found my dead brother’s daughter.’ He looked to the ceiling, ‘God be praised.’
‘If it is her,’ Clarence cautioned, ‘if it is indeed your niece, as your friend I can only advise you to temper your happiness until you learn the true nature of her state.’
Aloysius frowned. ‘What rubbish are you speaking of, Clarence?’
‘It is over 20 years since her abduction.’
‘And I have never stopped thinking of the child. She is my brother’s blood.’
‘She has been raised by savages,’ Clarence countered. ‘Please, dear friend, I share your joy if indeed the woman is Philomena, but I also urge you to prepare yourself.’
Aloysius folded the letter, returned it to the envelope and tucked it inside his suit coat. ‘I have been preparing for this moment for 23 years, Clarence. My niece was born a Wade and no Indian, Geronimo or not, can ever take that away from her.’
No, Clarence thought, they can’t take a name but they can take other things.
The Great Plains is available at all good book stores or you can head to my web site www.nicolealexander.com.au there is BUY NOW link on that page