It’s not long now before my ninth novel, Walking, steps out into the world – in February – and I’m letting myself get a bit excited.
This story has been fifteen years in the dreaming and scheming, and as always, she’s a bright, bold piece of my heart – maybe even brighter and bolder for the long wait.
I came across the inspiration for Walking way back when I was researching my first novel, Black Diamonds. That story was set during the First World War and, much to my shock and dismay at the time, about halfway through it I blew my hero up – then had to figure out how I was going to put him back together again. In the process, I learned more than I wanted to know about early orthopaedic medicine. But it was there that I came across the real-life story of German-Australian surgeon, Max Herz.
Max’s exploits and the challenges he faced were so incredible he deserved a novel of his own, but I wasn’t sure how to tell his tale. He was a medical genius, and a complex man; he was also interned and unjustly, insanely persecuted in Australia during the war – only to then emerge as a quietly powerful hero who changed the lives of thousands of Australian children. What a guy.
The more I researched Max himself, though, the more elusive he became – there just wasn’t enough information out there to show what really made him tick. But then, out of the soul-soup of all that reading and wondering, his essence appeared to me in fictional form. He stepped into my imagination as a man called Hugo Winter – and with him came his young protégé, Lucy Brynne.
Hugo and Lucy took off with the story from that moment on, and at such a pace I could hardly keep up.
Each day writing, and even throughout editing, the rhythms of Hugo’s and Lucy’s intertwined narratives drove me on as though the words were charged with music. And in a way, they are. Real-life Max was a musician and performer in his spare time, renowned for partying like a champ – that man had energy to burn. And the mystery man lovely Lucy falls for turns out to be a bit of a musician too – among other surprises.
As the story shifts from scene to scene, so too do the tunes, ranging through jumpin’ jive, tango, jazz crooning, string quartet and big band sounds, such a mix, I thought it might be fun to put together a little playlist of the beats that give Walking her bounce.
And here they are for your listening pleasure …
- The irrepressible Louis Jordan with Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens
- A good old-fashioned tango!
- Al Bowlly’s perennially romantic Goodnight Sweetheart
- A bit of Beethoven with your schnapps
- Glenn Miller’s boppiest rendition of Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree
- Billie Holiday’s timelessly silky interpretation of The Man I Love
- Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue – was a clarinet ever so sexy?
- And the happiest, toe-tapping-est beats ever in Benny Goodman’s Sing Sing Sing
I hope you enjoy that little sentimental journey. And I hope you enjoy Walking, too.
If you’d like to preorder the paperback, you can here at Book Depository, or if you’re local, put your hand up for a signed copy at Collins Booksellers Orange or Books Plus Bathurst. The ebook can be preordered here at iBooks and Kobo. Lots of other retailers to come – including the audiobook edition from Bolinda Publishing. News on all that soon!