Elaine Forrestal

Christmas brings out the best

Clara Saunders

While I am totally immersed in Clara’s story I tend to forget that the world keeps turning and other things are happening – like Christmas. Two Christmas gatherings this week have drawn me out of my bolt-hole and given me the opportunity to talk to different people.

Naturally historical fiction involves family history. Not necessarily mine, but other people’s. And the more people I talk to the more of them I find with family connections to the goldfields of  Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie. Perhaps I should not be surprised. The population of Western Australia quadrupled in just a few years during the gold rushes of the 1890s. Gold drew people in their thousands from all over the world and many of them stayed to make new lives and bring up their families here. For me it is stimulating and reassuring to talk to these people. It gives me a sense of just how much interest there is in Clara and the world in which she lived.

Getting to know a character is a slow process, for me anyway. I need to do a lot of drafts, to go over and over all the details, to put myself into the shoes, and the minds, of my characters. But knowing that there are people out there waiting to read Clara’s story has spurred me on to greater effort. The story has a shape now and I hope that, by the end of January, it will be ready for other eyes than mine.

Fingers crossed.