Lots of people have asked me whether my first novel, Homecountry, is true. In case you haven’t read it, it’s a thriller set in the Australian outback, in a mythical town called Clarkes Flat.
I like to call my book gritty because it doesn’t pull any punches.
Clarkes Flat doesn’t exist on a map.
But maybe there’s a measure of truth in Homecountry, but only a little bit.
Like Peter Clancy, I grew up in the bush in northern Australia. For those of you who are not from here, the bush is what we call rural Australia. I lived on a cattle station as a kid (a cattle ranch, for my American cousins).
It was a cattle station about the size of Luxembourg and three generations of my family had worked it, brought up their families on it and died for it. I was the fourth and, sadly, the last of a long line.
I loved growing up in the bush surrounded by stockmen, animals, crocodiles, and more things that can kill you than you could ever possibly imagine. That was a normal life to me.
I heard a lot of bush tales and I lived a lot of things most urban people could never imagine. One day, my sister in law, her eyes as big as saucers while listening to the stories said I should write down what I heard and saw.
Now, I’m not fussed on bush poetry. In my mind they don’t say how hard it really was, and they romanticise it far too much. I feel much the same about the movies that have been made about bush life. What a load of crap.
Most people wouldn’t last a minute in the Australian bush—it will kill you in a heartbeat if you don’t know what you’re doing. It can also be very isolating.
My blog, if you stick with it, will uncover the funny, tragic, ugly and beautiful truth about the Australian outback experience, starting first with my own.
It’s been a love affair that has endured a lifetime.