Real life issues create some of the strongest conflicts for writers. Pamela Cook talks about how the Hendra virus led her characters into dark places in "Close to Home", releasing late June. (available for pre-order at Amazon: http://bit.ly/1AwO3HB)
Lovely to be on Susanne’s blog today, talking about where I got the inspiration for my upcoming release, Close To Home.
As with all books, the story didn’t originate from just one source. The initial impetus though, was a discussion at a pony club event about the potential dangers of the hendra virus. For those who aren’t aware of it, hendra is a virus that is transferred from bats to horses and has resulted in many equine deaths and four human deaths since the mid 90’s. Naturally anything that is life threatening induces a huge amount of fear and the heated conversation about whether or not horses should be vaccinated made me realize what a volatile topic it was. Since conflict is the bedrock of any good plot I thought this was a great topic to weave a story around.
The hendra idea led me to create a main character who is a vet but not in the traditional sense. Charlie Anderson works for the department of Primary Industries and oversees outbreaks of the virus. This meant I could create a character who is smart, independent and assertive – just the type of character I like to write.
Charlie Anderson returns to the town where she spent her teenage years, which happens to be on the south coast of NSW. While the virus has to date been centred in Queensland and the north of NSW, it isn’t entirely impossible that outbreaks could occur further south. Since I’m lucky enough to have a second home there, I base a lot of my descriptions on the area. Naringup is a little bigger than Milton – probably more like Berry in size – but the surrounding bush and beach areas are, in my mind, very similar.
One thread that emerged as I was writing was the issue of domestic violence. It’s a classic example of the way a story can take on a life of its own and lead you in a direction you hadn’t originally intended. I don’t want to give away too much here but there is a plotline that involves emotional and physical abuse, one that I found difficult to write at times and that definitely changed my perspective on the issue. I have a post coming up about that on my own blog very soon.
As always I was inspired by my love of horses, strong female characters, rural landscapes. And just a touch of romance.
Orphaned at thirteen, Charlie Anderson has been on her own for over half her life. Not that she minds - she has her work as a vet and most days that's enough. Most days. But when she's sent to a small town on the New South Wales coast to investigate a possible outbreak of the deadly Hendra virus, Charlie finds herself torn between the haunting memories of her past, her dedication to the job and her attraction to a handsome local.
Travelling to Naringup means coming face to face with what is left of her dysfunctional family - her cousin Emma, who begged Charlie not to leave all those years ago, and her aunt Hazel, who let her go without a backwards glance. But it also means relying on the kindness of strangers and, when she meets local park ranger Joel Drummond, opening her heart to the possibility of something more . . .
As tensions in the country town rise, can Charlie reconcile with the past and find herself a new future in the town she left so long ago?
Pamela is proud to be a Writer Ambassador for Room To Read, a not-for-profit organisation that promotes literacy and gender equality in developing countries. She teaches creative writing through her business Justwrite Publishing (www.justwrite.net.au) and divides her time between her home in the southern suburbs of Sydney and her ‘other’ home on the south coast of NSW. When she’s not writing she wastes as much time as possible riding her handsome quarter horse, Morocco.
Pamela loves to connect with readers both in person and online. You will often find her lurking in one of these places: