About the Book
Title: Outback Promise
Author: Maggie Bolitho
Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction
Published: November 1st, 2015
Publisher: HarperCollins Australia – Impulse Imprint
Age Recommendation: 18+
Tragedy. Betrayal. Hope.
After losing their only child, Roslyn and Grady Balfour’s lives are destroyed, shattering their perfect marriage. When Ros discovers Grady’s infidelity, it sets their love on a destructive downward spiral. Grady hopes that three months together camping will rekindle what was lost so long ago.
Attempting to repair their broken marriage, Ros and Grady set out on a journey of self-discovery and redemption deep into the Australian outback. Packing resentment and bitterness along with them on their quest, the couple struggles with what they’ve lost. Forced to battle the challenges of the other travelers along with the dangers of the harsh outback, their only chance for survival lies in facing the secrets of the past. Will Ros and Grady find a way to hold onto each other when everything else has fallen apart?
About the Author
A free range child, Maggie Bolitho grew up on an island in Canada’s Pacific Northwest. She spent her formative years constructing alternative universes, flying under the radar and wishing for 20/20 vision.
She set out to see the world shortly after her 17th birthday. Eventually she met and fell in love with a wild colonial boy. After five years of futile resistance, she moved to Melbourne, Australia and married him. In 2007, Maggie and her husband made Canada their permanent home. They now live in a leafy suburb on that island where Maggie grew up and neither of them wishes to be anywhere else, except for when memories of the sunburnt country beckon.
While living Down Under, she started writing fiction and explored the outback. In 2015 HarperCollins Australia published her novel Outback Promise. Her debut novel Lockdown (YA) was published in 2014. Some of her adult short stories appear in different anthologies in the US, Canada, and Australia. She has had poetry published in Quills Canadian Poetry magazine.
Describe your relationship with a good book.
A good book is as addictive as a drug to me. I obsess over it. I want it surgically attached to me, so carrying it around as ebook on my iPhone library is a perfect solution. I read it every chance I get, standing in line ups, on public transportation, and in waiting rooms. Once I’m finished, I go back over my favourite parts, maybe even copy-type some of them in a grateful attempt to channel the author’s gift. In the meantime, I pester my friends to read it so we can discuss it.
When did you first start writing and what was the first thing that you wrote that you were proud of?
In Grade 7 I fell in love with ancient Greek and Roman history. I read every book on those cultures that in the small school library. Then I wrote a story about a captured Greek slave who dies as he labors in a Roman senator’s fields. It was published in the junior high yearbook which back then was about eight amateur pages, more like a newsletter than a bound keepsake. All the same, I was thrilled with this tiny success.
Please describe your work ethic as an author.
#1 rule – Make time for writing. Make time because waiting to find time is like waiting to find a unicorn. #2 rule – do all the aspects of writing, even the ones that are less fun: reading, writing, researching, revising, improving skills, networking, and social media. #3 rule – manage social media time so it doesn’t suck the life out of the day. #4 rule – never give up.
How do you balance your work as an author with the other aspects of your life?
I set deadlines and priorities and make sure I’m always flexible enough to just to do something different for the sheer impulsive joy of it.
Why did you write this book?
I was on an outback walkabout, dazzled by the dramatic landscapes when a story started to form in my head. At Devils Marbles (the area known to the traditional owners as Karlu Karlu) I encountered notes about the Aboriginal dreamings. They told of the Kwerreympe spirits that live in the caves under the rocks and lure children away from their families:
“The spirits say ‘Follow me’ and [a child] can’t go back. It happened like that for my cousin. He disappeared. The old people made a big ceremony singing the ground and the rocks to make them let my cousin come back. We’ve lost that song now. We’ve got no song to bring children back.”
The thought of a lost child was planted and years later I found Ros, Grady, and their beloved son, Cadel.
What experiences from your past do you find yourself drawing upon repeatedly for inspiration in your work?
The seven basic plots in storytelling are: overcoming the monster, rags to riches, the quest, voyage and return, comedy, tragedy, and rebirth. All of these are woven through my life either literally or figuratively. I select from the most compelling events, depending on what my story needs. I try to avoid repeating the experiences I draw from.
What do you hope to accomplish in the next five years, both as an author and in your outside life?
As an author I hope to see my next four YA novels published. They are all drafted and in varying states of readiness.
In my personal life I hope I finally unpack the boxes in the basement that moved in with me two years ago and haven’t been opened since.
Since you are a storyteller, please tell one good lie about yourself.
Only one? Here are three scenarios and only one is true. You decide which is fact and which is fiction:
- Years ago, I hitchhiked across Canada with a girlfriend. It wasn’t until we arrived in Toronto after two weeks of sharing beds and sleeping bags that she declared her love for me. I was quite naive and hadn’t picked up on her vibes at all. Our friendship was strained for a while but it survived.
- I am ¼ Coast Salish First Nations. My grandfather married his housekeeper who was a Salish woman, although back then the coastal people didn’t claim their heritage with pride. She died when my father was only sixteen and I never met her. There were no records of her clan in any of my father’s papers when he passed. We think he may have burned them in shame.
- In my teens, a friend and I borrowed another friend’s van to go to a party. We had no insurance or registration papers when we were pulled over by police. Both of us were carrying small baggies of weed. The cop looked at RS’s driver’s licence and sent us on our way. My friend swore it was his telepathic message to the cop, telling him to let us go, that stopped us from being busted.
Curious? I can be contacted through my website, www.maggiebolitho.com, for the answer.
Suzanne refilled both our glasses. How many bottles of wine had we shared over the years? I eased my glass to my lips and emptied half of it.
‘Does it have to be camping?’
[…] she set her fork down and cleared her throat. ‘Okay, you can stop the act now – what I really want to know is, when’s the big divorce?’
It took every bit of my willpower to bite back the first questions that sprang into my head. How did you find out? What do you know? I speared a small green leaf and chewed slowly, half-smiling at her. My pulse raced as I tried to imagine what she’d heard and how.
She drained her glass of chardy while her attention lit on a surfer half her age strutting past on the beach below. When I didn’t answer she continued, ‘You know – the two of you. Sleeping in a tent. Nothing around but dirt, dingos, and drongos. How long’s that going to last?’
‘Not so fast. There is some good in all of this.’
‘Grady and I are planning and doing things together. I can’t remember the last time we shared a project or worked to the same goal.’
‘I guess this trip is better than him buying a sports car and taking on a mistress.’ She gestured for the bill with a wiggle of her fingers. ‘Now that’s a laugh. Grady, the most loyal man ever to draw breath, having an affair. There’s one thing you’ll never have to worry about!’
I put on my sunglasses and ignored the lies that hung between us. Six years earlier Suzanne knew every detail about me, large and small. She had been at my side when I miscarried my first child and again when Cadel was born. While we rejoiced at the birth of my beautiful baby, she consoled me over the emergency hysterectomy I’d undergone.
‘One healthy baby will bring you unlimited joy. Quality trumps quantity,’ she said and kissed Cadel’s tiny fists.
Now I couldn’t even tell her how a stray voice at the Supershow had almost stopped my heart. She didn’t know that far from being the most loyal man on earth, Grady had inflicted fresh pain when the old wounds weren’t fully healed. She also didn’t know how close we’d come to bankruptcy when he had managed our finances. She saw what the outside world was meant to see: two people, affectionate and loyal, the public face of our marriage. I needed a holiday in ways she could never guess.