by Kim Kelly

Millthorpe pop up flowers

MEET THE AUTHOR IN MILLTHORPE

PAMELA COOK

Our Millthorpe Pop-Up is a celebration of Australian writing, our books all gathering together in a little gold-rush era village with stories whispering from every wild colonial verandah post. So tell us, Pamela, how has your Australianness, or your experience of Australia, inspired or influenced your storytelling explorations?

My novels are all set in rural Australia. Spending a lot of time in the country as a kid (even though I lived in the suburbs of Sydney) had a huge impact on me. I developed a great love of open spaces, the coast and country towns which has stayed with me into adulthood. I’ve been lucky enough to travel to lots of areas in rural New South Wales with my daughters attending horse events, and have had a lifelong love affair with the south coast. Now we live on a property just south of Sydney and I get to sit on my veranda and be inspired by the bush, birds and the occasional goanna while I write.

If you were to set a tale in Millthorpe, with its many layers of history – from the Wiradjuri wars to boutique stores – what sort of a tale might you tell?

Funny you should ask! My current manuscript is set in a fictional town ‘very similar’ to Millthorpe. I wanted somewhere not too far from Sydney but far enough to be a bit of a chore to get to for a quick getaway. Also, somewhere with gorgeous heritage buildings and a thriving arts community. It’s the story of a woman has to confront a disturbing part of her past when she becomes foster mother to her childhood friend’s ten-year-old daughter.

That sounds fascinating – you’ll have to come back and launch it here! But for now, please tell us about the wonderful tales you’ll be bringing to the Millthorpe Pop-Up from far and wide.

My novels all feature strong women dealing with difficult family relationships, a 9780733636851confronting issue from their past and a complicated problem in their present. The first three, Blackwattle Lake, Essie’s Way and Close To Home are all set in fictional towns on the south coast of New South Wales, while the fourth, The Crossroads, is set in outback Queensland. I love immersing myself in the settings I choose and my stories usually include some reference to horses. There’s also a thread of romance woven through the pages and a hopeful ending to leave my readers smiling (although you may need a few tissues along the way).

What’s your favourite Australian story – be it a novel, a film, or legend? And why do you love it?

Too hard to stick to just one! The Man From Snowy River is the first one that comes to mind – the whole horse thing, the courage, the setting and the rollicking rhythm of Banjo Paterson’s ballad never gets old. My all time favourite Australian novel is Cloudstreet. Winton’s depiction of the Lamb and Pickles families is total genius. That scene where Quick is out in the boat fishing and looking at the stars gives me goosebumps every time. The characters, the setting, the language are all pure magic!

Lovely! Describe the view from your storytelling window today.

I’m looking out at the peeling trunks of gumtrees, a patchy grass paddock where our horses are picking and a cheeky magpie I nicknamed Buddy when he kept turning up every day after we moved in. Our dogs, Spencer and Luna, the groodles, and Bridie, an old staffy, are lazing on the veranda. Koda the crazy cat (who thinks she’s a dog) is lurking nearby and our goats Sven and Elsa are patiently waiting for dinner.

If you were to write the Great Australian Novel, where might you begin?

Right here in my own backyard.

Of course! Must be time for cuppa, hmm? Fortunately, Millthorpe has plenty of options, from country pub to hatted restaurant, and several gorgeous cafes. So what’s your yen? Coffee and cake? Beer and chips? Coq au vin and Pinot Grigio?  And while we’re here, which Australian author would you like to invite to your table?

The café for morning tea, pub for lunch and the hatted restaurant for dinner. It all sounds too good to pass up! We are so spoilt for choice when it comes to wonderful Aussie authors. My writing idol is Tim Winton but I’d be far too nervous to eat if he were at the table so I think I’d invite a bunch of my favourite author buddies so we could talk about our favourite books and compare notes on our writing journeys.

Well, cheers to that! Thanks for bringing your story love to Millthorpe, Pamela.

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 Find out more about Pamela Cook here.