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Wednesday 4 November 2015

ℚ♫ Outback Promise - Maggie Bolitho

Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with author to talk about Outback Promise (, AUS Impulse, 203pages) a Contemporary Fiction novel.

Author Q&A | Synopsis | Teaser | About the Author | Giveaway & Tour Stops

A very warm welcome to Maggie Bolitho; thank you for joining us today!

Here at BooksChatter we love music, so Maggie has shared with us her music playlist for Outback Promise - enjoy!

"Not all of these choices were released when the story takes place but they were the main background music as I wrote the final drafts and worked on my edit."

What was the inspiration for Outback Promise?

"My novel, Outback Promise started as a tiny grain of sand, carried back to my Sydney home after three months in the outback in 2005.  During that trip I wrote daily journals, over 100,000 words in total, about the places I saw and the people I met.  The outback made me feel as insignificant as dust.  At the same time I felt connected to that ancient land in a deep, primal way.

Visiting the Devil’s 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 thought of a lost child was planted and years later I found Ros, Grady, and their adored son, Cadel.

It took a long time for the story to come into focus.  At first, the characters were a faraway mirage on a desert highway.  For eight years I worked on the book and shelved it, over and over again, before it was ready for submission.

The vastness of the outback was a compelling inspiration – how it heals and tears asunder, all at the same time.  It’s a perfect place to bare one’s soul, to shed pain and grudges."
How much of yourself is reflected in this book, and how?
"As characters come through me, they arrive with scraps of who and what I am, have been, and might be in different circumstances.  The people and events in my work are based on first and second hand experiences, collected in my travels and absorbed into my psyche.  The characters are all invented and shaped over many months.

The physical settings of Outback Promise are based on real places, although the names of those places may be altered to suit the geography and timeline of my story. "
The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover. Can you tell us about your cover for Outback Promise - why you chose that concept and who the artist is.
"The wonderful artist, Michelle Payne, at HarperCollins Australia designed my cover.  For me it was love at first sight.  The dry grasses in the foreground, bright sun in the distance, framed by the silhouette of two people holding hands, depict the story beautifully."
Why should we read Outback Promise and what sets it apart from the rest? What makes your book unique?
"Very few stories will take a reader into a deep relationship rift like Outback Promise, while leading them on a parallel journey through one of the most hostile environments on earth.  There is danger from within and without for protagonists Ros and Grady.

It’s also an opportunity to see how some people plan for travel in the dusty outback.  Before my husband and I took our trip in 2005, we prepared extensively.  Much of that, like learning to drive a 4WD and trailer across log bridges and up and down 27⁰ slopes, is dramatized in the novel.  Outback Promise is the perfect opportunity for an armchair adventure into challenging terrain, emotionally and physically."
Can you tell us something quirky about Outback Promise, its story and characters?
"One of my early readers didn’t like the name Grady, thought it wasn’t Australian enough. To me Australia is a cultural mosaic. Sure there are dominant colours (names) but there is also diversity. Short story: I couldn’t change Grady’s name. That’s just who he was, from Day 1. So I dug deeper and discovered he came from a Celtic background. His Welsh mother, Lilwen, named all his siblings: Sulwen, Cormac, Kenna, Caradoc and Madlen. In that exercise, which is part of the 22,000 word prequel, I found out how his parents met. In Wales during WW II."
Who would you recommend Outback Promise to and what should readers be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers)?
"Readers who enjoy themes of loss and betrayal, secrets pushing lovers apart, set with the backdrop of a rugged landscape will like this book.

People who have lost a child or had a miscarriage may find parts of the novel difficult but it offers themes of reconciliation and hope as well."
If you could / wished to turn Outback Promise into a movie, who would be your dream team?
"Producer: Hugh Jackman.
Rosalyn: Cate Blanchett
Grady: Hugh Jackman
Lucy: Mia Wasikowska

With Hugh Jackman producing, I could trust all decisions going forward."
What do you like to write and read about?  Do you stick to a particular genre or do you like to explore different ones?
"I’ve written everything from haiku to sci-fi. Most isn’t fit for human consumption but I like playing around. My public genres are contemporary fiction, YA and, just for fun, flash fiction (posted on my I enjoy reading a wide range of books, from fiction to non-fiction, as long as they are well written."
What is your writing process?
"In terms of deadlines and word count, I keep the process fluid. As a minimum, I write something every day. Beyond that, I set reasonable goals for what progress I need to make by when.

Staying adaptable paid off this year when I was in Australia and editing Outback Promise for HarperCollins while on the road. My writing process changed every day as we moved from place to place. In the end I sent Outback Promise in its final form to HarperCollins from Perth in Western Australia. I had started the final edits in Adelaide, 3,000 kms and a month earlier."
What is in store next?
"I’m superstitious and find incubation is an intensely private process. I’m not being precious. The ideas simply aren’t well formed enough to set free. JK Rowling said it best, “I find that discussing an idea out loud is often the way to kill it stone dead.”"
And as a final quirky thing, to get to know you a little bit better... do you have a pet or something that is special to you that you could share with us?
"I genuinely like reptiles and spiders. One of my favourite parts of my Australian life was the number of reptiles, mostly tiny lizards, that lived in the garden and forest around our house on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. This year (2015), my husband and I did a five month tour around Australia.  A highlight was being able to get up close and personal with a number of lizards and snakes on Kangaroo Island, South Australia.

I appreciate spiders more from a respectful distance and prefer that they live outside rather than trying to share my indoor space.  When they do wander inside I practice capture and release, not squish and scrape.  When I lived in Sydney my husband and I used to go on autumn walks to admire the stunning webs of the golden orb spiders."

What a wonderful creature!  Thank you for sharing that image with us :-)

Outback Promise - available NOW!

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Maggie Bolitho said...

Thanks for hosting me and bringing some of my favourite music to the Q&A.

Maggie Bolitho said...

I keep coming back to look at this again and again. What a creative blog!

BooksChatter said...

Aww - thank you! I am glad you like it :-)

Thank you for visiting us and for the interview - I loved the pics with the snake and with the kangaroos on your Facebook page, but that one you sent us is my favourite!


Maggie Bolitho said...

And now, finally, here are some pictures from the trip that inspired Outback Promise: