After living in Australia for fourteen years, we made the decision to return to the UK to be nearer to my family. We left Australia on October 20th 2014 and so it seemed fitting that almost a year on (we arrived in the UK October 26th), I write about the setting for my novels so far.
I spent nine years in Melbourne and five in Sydney and Australia will always hold a special place in my heart. I set my first novel in a fictitious town on the Central Coast with my characters visiting and working in Sydney itself, then Handle Me with Care was set in the fictitious suburb of Huntley. Handle Me with Care really let me embrace my love for Melbourne and talk about all the fantastic places that have seen it named the World’s Most Liveable City several years in a row. I love everything about Melbourne – the friendly and approachable people, the tram network that’s just so easy, the surrounding green space.
My third novel is due to be released in only two weeks’ time, on November 3rd, and yes, you guessed it, it’s set in Australia too. This time I’ve set the story in a fictitious town called Magnolia Creek and What Rosie Found Next is the first in my Magnolia Creek series. The series will be made up of standalone stories but will all be set in the same beautiful area nestled in the Dandenong Ranges near Melbourne.
The Dandenong Ranges always hold a good memory for me, not only for their beauty. When I first arrived in Australia a friend and I decided we would go to the Dandenongs and explore – we’d heard there were quaint little shops that sold freshly baked scones with cream so we were sold. Now, remember these were the days before iPhones and Sat Navs so armed with our copy of the Melways – an enormous book of maps – off we went.
Disappointed, we returned to work the next day moaning to colleagues, and a little embarrassed, that we hadn’t seen Melbourne’s Dandenong Ranges with their breathtaking scenery, low mountain ranges, rolling hills and Mountain Ash trees, and when we told them we’d been to Dandenong and seen a suburb much like any other, the people we worked with found it hysterical. Dandenong is a whole different place…’The’ Dandenongs were in a different direction entirely.
Anyway, we lived it down, eventually, until the day we went to visit the Grampians, but that’s a different story altogether!
Setting my books in Australia came naturally when I wrote The Friendship Tree. I’d been living in the country for such a long time that I never considered a different place. I had fun with fictitious suburbs and when I formed Magnolia Creek I wanted to return to Victoria but set my story in a small town with gorgeous Australian scenery, a vibrant community, characters who had stories to tell and problems to solve.
So will I always set my stories in Australia? Well, that I’m not sure of. What I do know is that I’ve had a lot of fun with the setting so far and I’m already back in Magnolia Creek as I work on the first draft of book four bringing new characters to town. But who knows where it’ll be after Magnolia Creek…maybe over to another country entirely. Now that could be fun!
Helen J Rolfe.
What Rosie Found Next is the first novel in the Magnolia Creek series and it’s available for pre-order now. The book will be released November 3rd 2015…
Secrets are unearthed, promises are broken, friendships are put to the test and the real risk of bushfires under the hot Australian sun threatens to undo Rosie once and for all…Will Rosie and Owen be able to find what they want or what they really need?