Sunday, October 18, 2009
Return from Oz
RHYS: I know I've been invisible and silent for a while, but I've had a good excuse. John and I have been in the Australian Outback. This was one of those trips that we've put off, until we realized that we can't count on good health forever and we should do it while we're both fit.
It was not by any means a first trip to Australia. In fact Australia has played a big part in my life. I went to work for Australian Broadcasting in my twenties, met John in Sydney and reluctantly moved to California with him. My brother followed me to Australia, married and settled there. My parents also settled there when they retired. So for a while my whole family was in New South Wales.
I visited many times. I was there when my parents died. So the place carries powerful memories and emotions for me from weddings to funerals. But my experience of the Land Down Under has all been of the Eastern coast--green, fertile, lots of lakes and rivers. I realized I should never really know Australia until I had visited the Red Center.
So this trip took us to Alice Springs, to Uluru, to various bright red mountains and gorges with secret waterfalls and refreshing cold pools. We went to Darwin and Kakadu National Park and saw more crocodiles than we wanted to, and water buffalo and camels and kangaroos, frilled lizards, goanas and zillions of birds. We have come home sated with nature--and with a greater appreciation for the real outback; lonely cattle stations bigger than Belgium, supporting one cow per acre, red dust that clings to everything, amazing sunsets. It's an impressive country and there is nowhere else on Earth that I have been that has given me the impression of being truly far away and different. I've taken pages of notes and hope to write a book some day.
And speaking of books, this trip has meant that I missed Bouchercon--the World Mystery Convention--for the first time in many years. Of course now I'm regretting this and hope that my Jungle Red Sisters will chime in with reports on the convention and any juicy gossip that's fit to print.
HALLIE: Well, the #1 bit of gossip from Bouchercon is that Rhys Bowen (yes OUR Rhys Bowen) won the Sue Feder Memorial Award for Best Historical Mystery for A ROYAL PAIN. Congratulations, Rhys! To add to your formidable collection.
I came back early after teaching at the wonderful Sisters in Crime before-conference writing workshop. Donald Maas's session was fantastic--gave me a slew of ideas for revision my WIP (work-in-progress). And Nancy Picard's talk left me laughing and inspired, a great combo.
Indianapolis was great -- and I especially loved meeting all those librarians! There were about 80 of them at the Sisters in Crime Librarian's Tea...another brilliant moment.
ROBERTA: Yes, big Rhys congrats to you! Jim Huang and his committee did a wonderful job with the convention--an amazing and backbreaking job if ever there was one. I was very proud of the presence of Sisters in Crime in Indianapolis--organizing a few of the events was my swan song on the board. Not sure how I'll fill up my time--maybe a trip to Australia??
In fact my hub and I are discussing where to take vacation next year. We've never been to Japan, China, Australia, New Zealand, South America, India--a long list of possibilities. Would be happy to hear suggestions!
RO: So jealous! I've had the Aussie fantasy ever since The Thorn Birds and all of those great Australian movies/series from the 80's - A Town Like Alice, Breaker Morant, The Last Wave, Gallipoli. I did get to meet Bryan Brown once (and practically fainted) but that was as close as I've gotten.
RHYS: Thanks for the congrats. I was really surprised to win this time, given the serious historical writers who were my fellow nominees.
A Town Like Alice has always been one of my favorite books, which was one of the reasons I was so anxious to see the real town. It doesn't have much going for it apart from its location, actually. Right in the middle of the continent and fabulous mountain ranges around it. (Oh and I loved the movie, speaking of Bryan Brown....very sexy guy.)
So the Australian Outback is crossed off my bucket list. I still have to see the pyramids in Egypt and go on an African safari, but I'm less and less inclined to subject my body to those long flights and all that airport annoyance. One thing that came across about Australia was how pleasant the people are. Even the airport security guys could joke and speak in pleasant tones. And everyone in stores has time to talk. If it weren't so far away, I'd get rid of the condo in Phoenix and spend my winters Down Under.