Water, Water Everywhere …

I’ve been thinking about the image of the boathouse in my first post. I think there are lots of reasons why this is appealing, but for me, one is the presence of water. I grew up loving the water and someone recently pointed out to me that it tends to crop up over and over in my work. I was skeptical at first, but it turns out they were right. Sometimes, writers are the last to know what their own obsessions are, but when you’re confronted with the evidence, it’s hard to argue.

In my first novel, Annabel Again, two friends live on opposite sides of a lake, which becomes central to the story. In The Big Dig, three boys set out to dig a pool in one of their backyards. In Duck for a Day, part of what the kids have to do is construct a ‘suitable aquatic environment’ for Max, the class duck, so there is a lot of concern with ponds and pools and mudbaths and the like.

But it’s in my latest novel, Surface Tension, that the watery theme really comes to the fore, and in this case it’s directly related to a childhood experience. Back in Year 7 or 8 I went on a school camp to a town called Tallangatta, in north-eastern Victoria, and the interesting thing about Tallangatta is that there are two versions of it – the town you can live in now, and the town that sits, drowned, at the bottom of a lake.

The marker at the site of ‘Old’ Tallangatta, and an article about the surfacing of Adaminaby, another drowned town.

Tallangatta is near Lake Hume and was flooded in the 1950s to make way for the expansion of the dam complex. When we were there, the water was quite low, and you could see some of the remnants of the old town above the surface, including the beginning of a road that led down into it. I remember being taken by the idea of setting off along the road and following it underwater all the way into the town. That image sat in the back of my mind for years until one day the line The day that I was born, they drowned my town came to me, and very slowly, a story began to form around it.

It became the story of Cassie, who starts swimming up at the lake in a quest for bandaid-free water, and Liam, who joins her up there for reasons all his own. As the drought kicks in and the water level drops, an old secret begins to come to light, and it’s up to the two of them to make sure it gets all the way to the surface.

Curiously enough, it’s just occurred to me that I have another water-related book waiting to be written. I wonder if there are other obsessions I’m unaware of? I guess I’ll have to wait for my readers to let me know.

2 Responses so far

  1. 1

    Tierney Reardon said,

    I’ve read Surface Tension, and I love it! I really like the mystery of the drowned city.

  2. 2

    Meg McKinlay said,

    Oh, that’s great, Tierney. I’m so glad you liked it.


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