1. I love this series and characters. Where did the inspiration come from for Charlie and Travis?
Aw, thank you so much! I had seen some pictures from an R.M. Williams clothing catalogue and just knew they were these boys. It fit them perfectly. I love writing these Australian Outback characters. I grew up in regional Australia (not the Outback) so I can relate to the people in these books. Every character is a little slice of someone I’ve known in real life.
2. Since there is a real “Sutton Station”, have you visited it and experienced the red dirt for yourself?
I did base Sutton Station on a real, working station in the Outback. You can see it here https://www.google.com.au/maps/place/Lucy+Creek,+Anatye+NT+0872/@-22.4440797,136.291595,181501m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!3m1!1s0x6a738c86bfa74965:0xa27244c5d3026759
Though you’ll need to zoom riiiiiiight in. I based my fictional property on this location, not size.
I have been through the Outback, many years ago. Though it’s not a place that leaves you in a hurry. And I will say, the fine red dirt gets into everything. Every. Thing. Lol
I have climbed Uluru (back when it was known as Ayers Rock and it was climbable) and visited Kings Canyon. Quite a remarkable place.
3. The scenes with Matilda and now Nugget are adorable and yet so real. Did you visit or have any experience with animal rehabilitation facilities for kangaroos and wombats?
Not in the rehab facilities as such, but we had a pet kangaroo when we were kids. Growing up in a small rural Australian town, caring for sick or injured wildlife is common. I did a little research on proper care of joeys (both kangaroo and wombat) but most of what I wrote was just what I knew.
4. Is there a set number of stories for this series or is it open ended?
There will be 4. I’m almost done writing book number four now, and I expect it to be released early 2015. I have no plans for more Charlie and Travis after that, but I do like to never say never. 😉
5. The current state of equality in Australia seems to go along the lines of state rights in the US regarding marriage and adoption. There is no gay adoption in the Northern Territory where the Sutton Station resides or gay marriage in Australia. Will that play out in the stories to come?
It is something the boys discuss and encounter in book 4. I haven’t actually written that part yet, so I can’t say for certain exactly what will come of it, but yes, it is in the series.
6. How do you feel about the status of LGBTQ rights in your country and do you feel stories such as yours help to bring greater acceptance? Australia has one of the biggest gay Pride events in the world. Have you ever been?
I went to Sydney Mardi Gras a LONG time ago, and I’ve only been once. I’d love to get there again.
I hate that Australia is so behind in equality. I think we will need a change of Prime Minister before we see any move forward. Our current PM is a giant setback for a lot equality in this country.
I’d like to think my stories bring greater acceptance, and I’ve had people write to me and tell me they appreciate my ‘voice’ which has been lovely. I figure if I can make acceptance and understanding start in my house and bring my kids up to believe as such, then I’ve done my job.
7. Your favorite place you would want tourists to see in Australia? What would you want them to experience and take away with them?
Oh, wow. There really is too much to see in Australia. LOL We have deserts, rainforests, coral reefs, beautiful cities and rolling country sides. I love it all for different reasons. I’ve seen a lot of Australia, and I’d have to suggest that people get off the tourist tracks and meet some genuine Aussies.
8. I love that we experience two national views that are so similar in some respects with Charlie and Travis. It is a wonderful aspect to this story that we get the “insiders” and “outsiders” perspective on life on the farm and the Northern Territory. Did you plan that from the beginning?
It wasn’t really planned, but I have LOVED writing the differences between Aussies and Americans. I have a good friend in California who I talk to all the time and we quite often joke at the differences between us, even though we both speak English. And being an Aussie who has written mostly American characters for years, it’s been fun having the characters bicker about different word uses. I think it gives them a sense of realism.
I have loved writing in Australian English. And funnily enough, I have found myself having to change words back to “Australian” because I’m so used to writing “American.”
9. What would be a Australian comfort food?
Well, that can vary from house to house given we’re such a diverse country. But I’m a seventh or eighth (not sure exactly) generation Aussie. My ancestors came out here from Ireland with the convicts LOL. So a “comfort food” for me would be maybe corned beef and béchamel sauce, or a pot of tea and something sweet like a cake or slice.
10. If you have a favorite childhood book, what was it and how did it impact your writing. today.
I loved The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. I’m not sure it impacted my writing, just my love of reading
11. What’s next for the Red Dirt Heart series and N. R. Walker?
RDH4 is next. I would also like to get a short Christmas story out, and I have my next novel planned/outlined in my head. It’s a sci fi-ish vamp story which is not normally thing but these characters are not letting me get out of writing it. I will look at and aim to have between 6-8 releases next year, but looking at my very blank 2015 yearly planner, it feels a little ambitious.
Thanks for having me here today. Great questions