Tricia Stringer talks about her Flinders Ranges series.
1. Tell us more about Jewel In The North.
This is a historical novel, a saga about two families pitted against each other, their loves and their losses. The feud between the Bakers and the Wiltshires began with the first book, Heart of the Country. As often happens with these things they continue with the next generation but the characters in my books had the added problem of being at odds with the land. The Flinders Ranges is not an easy place to live and survive in and drought comes not once but several times over the years. Dust on the Horizon followed Heart of the Country and now there’s Jewel in the North. It is so satisfying to find out what happens to the next generations. I love seeing them grow up before my eyes and I hope readers do too.
2. How did you come up with the idea for the Flinders Ranges series?
I never expected it to be a series. I had this idea for a story, turns out it was too long for one book and it just kept getting longer.
3. Where did you get the inspiration for the Baker family?
I have been travelling to the Flinders Ranges in South Australia’s outback for over twenty-five years. It’s a fabulous place, harsh and rugged but beautiful. Each visit I would ponder what it would have been like for early settlers to try and make a life there. The characters gradually came to life as the story began to develop in my head. By the time I started writing I felt as if I knew them well.
4. Did you do any specific research for the book?
Lots of research. Local history collections, family anecdotes and stories handed down, museums, books and Trove which has the digitized newspapers of the day.
5. What was the most difficult part about writing this book? And what was the most fun part?
It’s always difficult when something bad happens to my characters, even when they’re not so nice. I sit at my computer shedding a tear or two for them. On the other hand I love taking snippets of reality and weaving them into my story, I hope without sounding like a text book, so that readers get a feel for what was happening in reality at the time my story takes place.
6. Do you have a set daily writing routine?
When I’m working on a manuscript I aim for two thousand words a day, four days a week. (I work one day a week in a bookshop.) I like to get up early and write, it’s the best time of day for me. I try to take a walk on the nearby beach part way through. It’s great thinking time.
7. What novel have you recently read that you’d like to recommend to other book fans out there?
I’ve just finished the third of Sarah Barrie’s Hunter’s Ridge series and I loved it. Lots of twists and turns some romance – a real page turner.
8. What is one thing about you your readers would be surprised to know?
I always wanted to sky dive then decided the opportunity had passed. I was in New Zealand a few years back and my two sons were going to do it so I joined them. Fantastic experience.
9. When did you decide to write and what prompted you to start?
I was a teacher and wanted to write a local history story for the middle primary children at my school. I had some ideas and I made a start but never finished. That’s when I realised I needed help. I did a children’s writing course and the writing bug hooked me. I’ve been writing ever since.
10. What’s next for you?
My next book is a rural romance called Come Rain or Shine. It follows on Paula’s story who appeared in ‘A Chance of Stormy Weather’. Lots of readers wanted to know what happened next but you don’t have to have read ‘A Chance of Stormy Weather’ to pick this one up and enjoy it.
A breathtaking historical family saga of love, death and forgiveness and a quest for the Jewel in the North
1895 The Flinders Ranges are a beautiful but harsh landscape as Joseph Baker, a pastoralist in that unforgiving environment, knows all too well. For three generations his family have farmed the land, married and had children at their property at Wildu Creek, but now, struggling with hostility from the local community for his choice of wife, Joseph finds himself fighting to save not just his friends and family but his very existence.
His son William has his own battles to fight: not only the drought that takes over the land but his own despair, as he faces rejection from the woman he loves. Meanwhile, a ruthless enemy will stop at nothing to take from William what he considers to be his. Could the vicious and cunning Charles Wiltshire be his nemesis? Or does another man, in a quest for the Jewel of the North, hold the key to his destruction?
As the First World War looms on the horizon, two men struggle to survive both the elements and each other on a quest to find that they hold dear — but only one will have the courage to stand strong.
The deeply satisfying conclusion to the bestselling Flinders Ranges series.
Tricia Stringer has travelled extensively through Australia’s vast and changing landscapes. Her passion for the places and the people she encountered compelled her to write stories reflecting our country’s uniqueness. She lives in South Australia’s Copper Coast region and delights in her portrayal of rural Australia.