My dream from last night floated through my mind,
the details becoming foggier…
At the bottom of the hill, I was surprised to see
someone in the cemetery. Until now, I hadn’t paid much attention to the
old graves, assuming most of its residents had died hundreds of years ago,
based on how crumbled and weathered the tombstones were.
The mysterious woman was kneeling on the soft
dying grass, facing one of the small headstones. Her back to me, she looked
stoic, almost like a part of the graveyard itself.
I slowed my pace, determined not to
interrupt her as I passed. Off to the right, I spotted the same
old farm road from the other day, and I picked up speed,
enjoying the hot wet vibrations of the wind passing by. As I turned
sharply, I took one last look back toward the cemetery. Expecting to
see the stone-like woman, I was surprised to see her gone already.
She must live close by, I wondered, focusing back ahead. Like I did a
couple of days ago, I veered off the beaten path and slipped
through the gap in the trees that led to the fence line.
My eyes traveled the length of its wires as I
jogged in place, noting that the fence was twisted and bent in spots.
Instead of running in the direction of town like I did the other day, I
took a new route, going the opposite direction.
I’ll just follow the fence until it ends so I can
see where it goes, I decided
resolutely. It was silly and childish, but I suddenly felt this insatiable
need to satisfy the curiosity burning inside me…and as I ran, I could feel
the same high from last night returning. The touch and smell of Adam still
clung to my skin…
Moving along the fence line, I tried to catch a
glimpse of something behind the foliage, or the lake I thought I’d seen
the other day, but after jogging nearly a mile, it was more of the
I was in the middle of nowhere now. Peering up
through the clearing, I could see a dirt road with no houses on it.
Suddenly anxious, I stopped and listened. Would
I hear that dog beyond the fence again? I’d almost forgotten
about the barking…
But I couldn’t hear anything besides the rustling of
wind in the trees and the slight clinking sounds of the fence rattling.
A shockingly cold gust of wind blew right
through my sweat-soaked hair, causing me to shiver. What had started
out as a bright sunny day, was suddenly getting colder…and darker. The fence
seemed to stretch for miles, and I was suddenly hit with a strange sense akin
to walking in the desert. Is that the end of the fence line I see? Or
is this some sort of twisted mirage?
But as I moved against the dank and chilly air,
I saw what did in fact look like the end of the fence line. The fence itself
curled around, moving in another direction. One spot in the fence looked
open. It was shaking in the wind, the culprit of the clinking sounds I’d heard
only moments earlier…
All of a sudden, I was running, eager to see. As I
reached the corner where the fence turned, I realized it was loose. There was a
tiny gap at the end, a jagged opening that looked to have been created by
A hole in the elusive fence. How can I resist going
The adult in me was sounding alarm bells, but the
kid in me couldn’t resist…
The gap in the fence was more like a tear, and
before I could change my mind, I did a quick look around to make sure I was
alone, and then I tried to squeeze through the gap. The metal wires were
jagged in spots, and even sucking in my small belly, I barely made it
The wires tore at my arms and torso, and once
through, I stopped to observe my wounds, catching my breath. They were
superficial, but bleeding. Thoughts of tetanus drifted through my mind,
but I quickly tried to dispel them, using my shirt itself to wipe blood
away from the tiny scratches.
On this side of the fence there was thick
vegetation. Impulsively, I pushed through it, trying to stay as quiet as
possible. I don’t see any ‘No Trespassing’ signs, but the fence
made it very clear…I’m not supposed to be back here.
Sharp pointy sticks and roots clustered the dry
earthy ground, so I took my time, pushing through the trees and prickly bushes.
There was no sound; no birds, no nothing, as I entered the dense
Even the fence had stopped rattling behind me.
Hesitantly, I looked back in the direction of the
fence, but couldn’t see it now through the murky wall of trees behind
me I’d just passed through.
Darting forward through trees and overturned
logs, I prayedthat I wouldn’t get lost.
I felt compelled to keep going, to see what lie
ahead that was so important it had to be fenced in and kept secret like Fort
My heart nearly burst with relief as I saw the trees
widening. I was approaching something…but what that something was, I couldn’t
But that’s when I heard it—soft babbling sounds of a
creek or water source. Was this the water I spotted through the trees
the other day?
Off to my right, the sound of water quickened, and I
followed it like a beacon. A few yards later, I nearly stepped right up to
the edge of the lake as it seemed to appear out of nowhere.
Abruptly remembering my dream from
last night, I recognized the same bright white blue water. Mist hovered
like a blanket above it.
Standing at the water’s edge, I could see clear
across to the other side of the lake. There were triangular shaped hills in the
distance and a thick white fog hovering around them.
I followed along the edge, my eyes immediately
drawn to smooth white marble and stone, a building or monument of some
sort standing in the distance.
For a brief moment, I considered turning back…but
I’d come this far. I had to see what else there was back here…
Nervously, I moved toward the stone building,
and as I grew closer, I realized it had crumbling steps leading up to a
flat empty square of space.
Stealing up nearly three dozen stone steps, I
went to the center of it, turning around in circles on the flat
There were no picnic tables or statues, just an open
I didn’t shout, but I know if I did, my voice would
have echoed for miles…
“Neat,” I said, feeling like I’d found my own
treasure. I went back to the steps, plopping down on the top stair. From here,
I could see the brilliant blue lake below, and although I was still not as high
as the trees, I could see farther across the expanse of land on the other side
of the lake.
A massive gnarly twisted tree stood out from
all the rest. Even from this far away, I could see that it dwarfed every
other tree and plant around it.
It looked wicked cool, with massive long
branches pointing in every direction.
Nobody lives here. There are no houses. But someone
must own this property. I wonder why they let it go…
“Miss?” The voice out here was so abrupt and
shocking, that I screamed and jumped up, nearly tumbling down the high stony
I looked behind me toward the sound of the voice,
surprised to see a boy standing on
the flat square surface above.
His head tilted to the side, taking in all of my
features, as though he was trying to figure me out.
“I-I’m sorry,” I stammered. “I didn’t know anyone
was back h-here. You frightened me.”
“I didn’t know you were here either,” he said, his
voice as a low as a whisper. His skin was white as milk, his hair and eyes
nearly matching the shocking bright blue of the lake. If it wasn’t for the
hollowed out cheeks and deep purplish marks beneath his eyes, he would have
“I’m leaving. I just…needed to see what was back
I stumbled a few steps forward, looking back at the
“And now that you have, what do you think? Is it all
that you expected?” His voice was so strange, as was his question, and I found
myself getting scared. I was suddenly aware of how alone I was.
He walked toward me, his feet silent. I realized he
wasn’t wearing any shoes.
His clothes were odd as well, faded dark cloth pants
and a matching black shirt that looked homemade.
“Again, I’m sorry,” I muttered, jogging back down
the steps, eager to leave.
“Wait,” said the man, who really was just a
boy, my age or slightly younger. When I glanced back, his expression
was sad now, as though I’d disappointed him.
“You don’t remember me, do you?” Even though he
was standing no more than ten feet away, his words vibrated against my
skin. The question reminded me of Adam’s question the other day, and I
felt my insides constrict.
“No. We’ve never met, I’m sure of that.” I’d
never been so sure of anything…
“But that isn’t so.” He was smiling now, a secret
curling up the edges of his lips, his words melodic.
Still moving down the steps, I was eager to get away
from this stranger. A stranger who claims to know you, I reminded
“N-no, I just moved here…I don’t know you…”
He was standing at the very top of the stone
platform, his bare feet lined up with the edge. From here, he looked eight
feet tall…and intimidating.
“I know you, Dorothea Landry. I always have.”
And with that, I was running, suddenly scared of the
boy. I raced down the steps and back along the water’s edge, careful
not to slip in, and when I found a decent-sized gap in the trees, I darted
through. How did he know my name? That question
pierced through my mind over and over as I ran.
Fearful I wouldn’t find my way back to the fence,
you can imagine my relief a few moments later, when I saw the glint of
metal up ahead.
“Oh, thank God,” I cried, pressing my face and hands
to the twisted metal. Keeping my hand on the fence, I followed it east, until
I found the same jagged hole I came in through.
I wiggled through hole, faster this time, and
screeched as the metal tore straight through my shirt, slicing a deep cut in my
But as soon as I was out, I kept running,
looking back over my shoulder a few times for the boy. But he wasn’t there, and
for that, I was grateful…
Book: Ocean’s Gift
Hiya, and thanks for having me. I’m a
little nervous, but I shall do my best not to stammer too much.
Welcome, Demelza! It always amazes me when writers say that; they have such a command of the English language and are such magic wordsmiths! How long have you been a writer and how did
you come to writing?
I’ve been writing for over 20 years, but
I’ve only been published for four of them. Ah…come to writing or come to
writing something I intended to publish? Because the first book I wrote was
actually the third book I published, and there’s a reason for that. Nightmares
of Caitlin Lockyer…no, the whole Nightmares Trilogy, is very dark .
Psychological thriller type dark. It was based on a series of recurring
nightmares I had during the trial of two notorious serial killers in my home
town. While I won’t go into the gory details, they kidnapped and tortured women
before they killed them and disposed of the bodies. The only reason they were
caught is because when they were about to kill one of the girls, she managed to
escape and get help. That’s where the similarity ends, though, because my
serial killers are subject to a much darker kind of justice than the Australian
I thought the whole thing – which was just
the one book then, not a trilogy at all – was too dark to publish or even show
anyone, but I was talking to some other authors on the site Wattpad, who
expressed a desire to read some of it. They’d tell me if it was too dark, they
So…I posted the first few chapters. And
within a matter of days, those chapters had over ten thousand reads. So I
posted a few more…and a few more…until in the end I posted the whole book on
Wattpad, and the website staff offered to feature it to their (then) ten
million readers. I think it had more than two and a half million reads or
something – a very popular book. So, I went from believing it was too dark to
release, to publishing the first book…and two more in the trilogy as it stands
But if you’re asking about why I published
my first book…that’s Ocean’s Gift, a light comedy urban fantasy.
How did you come up with this
Ah….that’s kind of a funny story, really. I
did my Masters research on shipwrecks at several remote islands off the West
Australian coast, and as I was writing up my dissertation, I came across one
shipwreck that just didn’t make sense. During a cyclone in the 1920s, a fishing
boat broke free of its moorings with the two-man crew still aboard. One man
managed to swim ashore, but the other couldn’t swim, so he disappeared in the waves
when the boat sank. Everyone thought he drowned, but his body wasn’t
found…until more than three weeks later, when it washed up miles from where the
boat went down, in the complete opposite direction to the ocean currents.
Stranger still, the man was recognizable – which meant his corpse hadn’t been
floating at sea for all those weeks – and he’d done some first aid to his
broken leg. There was nowhere the man could have been all that time except in
the ocean, because if he’d washed up on the island, someone would have seen him
and helped him. So how could a man survive for three weeks at sea, do first aid
on himself, and yet drown within sight of land?
No matter how much research I did, I
couldn’t solve the mystery, so I wrote “mermaids did it” in my report
and left it at that.
When I did the final proofread of my
report, I burst out laughing when I saw that bit, because it was still there. I
quickly deleted it, submitted my dissertation, and decided to celebrate with a
glass of wine.
Wine in hand, I decided to search mermaid
myths on the internet. Was it actually possible? I was amazed to find heaps of
mermaid stories from all over the Indian Ocean, and of course I also dug out my
copy of Hans Christian Anderson’s tales to read the fairytale I remembered.
Put the two together with my miracle man,
and I had a story. What if the reason mermaids went ashore was a biological
imperative – they needed human men in order to breed – but instead of saving
the man like the prince in Anderson’s tale, what if my Indian Ocean mermaid
accidentally lost him to the waves? She’d be heartbroken, not wanting to return
to the place she lost the man for a very long time.
And a very long time later, she did come
ashore again, at the same islands, investigating an environmental issue. Right
at the same time as a brand new deckhand starts work on a lobster fishing
vessel at the islands – a deckhand who’s very interested in the woman who lives
in the fishing shack next door to his. And he just happens to have the same
first name as the man she lost to the waves…
What are the best and the worst aspects of
The best part is getting lost in the story.
I love the research and working with new characters in amazing places and
seeing just what they can come up with to make their story special. The worst
bit…is when the characters are so real to me that they hijack my head, the
story and anything else they can get their imaginary hands on. So when I was
writing Joe Fisher, the deckhand who’s in love with the woman he doesn’t know
is a mermaid, and I walked past a reflective window while I was wearing a
low-cut top, the thought that popped into my head was a very clear, “Ooh,
boobs!” I’ll never forget that moment, because it was like Joe Fisher was
alive in my head…and perving on me.
What inspires you to write?
Anything and everything, especially when my
characters won’t shut up. I swear they’re either having a party in my head or
starting World War III. At least, I think it’s war. It might be a particularly
violent orgy, which is entirely possible, as Lucifer features in several of my
books and he gets quite vocal. I honestly don’t know.
How did you conduct your research for Ocean’s
Ah…well, I used my Masters research, but
part of that included site visits to the islands where the book is set. I’ve
stayed in those shacks, walked the jetty, been out on the fishing boats…and
visited Giuseppe’s grave, and the site where his boat sank.
What are 3 of your favorite quotes from Ocean’s Gift?
Oh hell…that’s a hard one.
~ When Joe Fisher has a few too many drinks
and then tries to drive his dinghy back to the island in the dark:
“I checked out of Hotel Consciousness.
At least I got to dream of Vanessa naked.”
~ Ah…this is an introduction to what Joe did
for a living before he signed on as a deckhand, constructing remote mining
camps with his offsider, Dean:
“While we worked, we lived rough. We
were the last people who actually camped there. We slept in swags and cooked
outside, in the beam of the spotlights on the top of the car, which was a ute.
There was one ute to two men, and I shared mine with Dean the plumber. Dean was
full of shit, so it seemed natural that he was a plumber. Still, he was a
better cook than me and a good mate, too.”
~ Dean calls Joe while they’re both between
assignments, asking for his help on his uncle’s fishing boat:
“Look, he needs someone as soon as
possible. How soon can you get up here?”
Dean’s in Geraldton, then.
“I could finish up at the end of the week
and fly up on Sunday,” I told him reluctantly.
“Cool, I’ll get my cousin to sort out your
flights and he’ll meet you out on the islands. You can see how it goes the
first week and if it works out you get paid to go fishing for the rest of your
holidays. Seeya.” He hung up.
Shit. What’ve I got myself into? Knowing
Dean, this was going to be a disaster. Oh well, next trip I can always get back
at him by putting huge spiders in his swag. He’s terrified of them, but he
always forgets to zip his swag up properly. And he screams like a girl when he
finds them, too.
What’s the worst that can happen? A week on
a free fishing charter and possibly getting paid to fish for weeks after it.
And if it didn’t work out, the next three months of seeing Dean do a
high-pitched jig every night when he found spiders in his swag. Hell, there
wasn’t a downside that I could see.
I started writing down a list of things to
Are reader reviews important to you?
Of course! Without reader reviews, nobody
would ever know how good a book is. If you enjoyed it, leave a review!
What do you do when you don’t write?
Honestly? Probably researching my next
book. It might not have been my intention when I stepped onto the whale
watching boat/jetty over a volcanic lake/the walkway into a million-year-old
cave or waded into the water with my dive gear, always with my camera in hand,
but by the time I get home, I usually have a new story idea in my head – or
something I’d like to include in an existing book.
I should tell you about the snorkelling
trip where I spent around an hour chasing this shark around so I could get a picture
of it. I never did get a good one. I’ll have to try again sometime.
Tell us about your other books?
Are you sure? I have almost thirty of them
Ocean’s Gift has two other books in the
series – Ocean’s Infiltrator, and a prequel about Belinda called Water and
Fire. I realised after I wrote these that there’s ninety years missing in
Vanessa’s tale, so I started writing what I thought was a single book called
Turbulence and Triumph. Ha. Now, that’s the name of a series of seven books to
date, all of which take place in the 1920s and 1930s, starting with Ocean’s
My Mel Goes to Hell series is about an
angel sent in as a temp to the office from Hell. Quite literally, as the CEO is
the devil himself and Mel’s supposed to find out his plans while she’s working
there. But the devil falls for the angel – and falls hard – which makes her job
a lot more challenging.
My Nightmares Trilogy I’ve already
mentioned, but an odd spinoff from that is my Romance Island Resort series. You
see, the girl was in a band, and because of what happened to her, she managed
to garner some media attention, and once the lead singer’s interview went
viral, the band just sort of took off.
Five years later, that lead singer, Jay
Felix, is one of the hottest rock stars in the world, with more money than he
knows what to do with, and the band breaks up. He buys Romance Island Resort, a
luxury celebrity resort off the West Australian coast, and proceeds to look for
love…inspired by the resort’s library of romance books. But what works for most
romance heroes always seems to go wrong for him, even if he does get the girl
in the end. Just not the way he intended.
Yes, I have other projects in the works…but
that’s all I can talk about for now.
Thank you so much for joining us and sharing a little of yourself with our readers and fans. We’ll be looking for you on the ‘Bestseller Lists’!
Thank you so much for having me – and
letting me chew your ear off about my books.