Darry Fraser’s first novel, Daughter of the Murray, is set on her beloved River Murray where she spent part of her childhood. Where The Murray River Runs, her second novel, is set in Bendigo in the 1890s, and her third novel, The Widow of Ballarat, takes place on the Ballarat goldfields in the 1850s. Darry currently lives, works and writes on Kangaroo Island, an awe-inspiring place off the coast of South Australia.
Welcome to Behind the Story, Darry! Please tell us about your brand new release, Elsa Goody, Bushranger, and also about your give away!
You know me and historicals – how did we women really fare back in the day? Not too far back for me, I only go back to the late 19th century in Australia but still, how did things work for women then?
So many things were happening. Some big iconic events – Eureka Stockade, for one, trade on our rivers. Federation was around the corner, some colonies had the vote for women and – there were bushrangers. I’d already written The Widow of Ballarat set just after the Eureka incident (and there are many stories still to be told from those days), and set three books on the Murray, our beloved, beleaguered river – Daughter of the Murray, Where the Murray River Runs and The Good Woman of Renmark. Many stories there, too.
So, bushrangers. Australia loves them, hates them but they’re ours – Ned Kelly and co being probably the most famous. Ben Hall another. They definitely take a writer’s eye; some thought they were heroes of their day. Now the not-so-bad ones are legends we love to love (mostly) for all sorts of reasons. But there weren’t so many bushrangers after Ned’s demise in 1880, so how was I going to write about a bushranger, and a female one at that sixteen years after bushranging stopped being safe for one’s health?
My heroine came to her fame accidently. She was on a mission to find what she believed to be rightfully hers and ‘something’ happened on the way. Throw in a deadline to be back home for the first election in Australia in which as a woman she was entitled to vote, a snarky older sister with her own agenda, and a family of three brothers in another colony. What could stop her? What could go wrong?
I was also able to use a family legend of my own in the form of the tin of gold coins Elsa Goody is trying to retrieve. Gold sovereigns were hard to come by, much less thirty of them. And how would a dirt-poor farmer be able spend one, let alone more of them, without raising suspicions?
I found a wonderful line of country in which to set Elsa Goody, Bushranger: Robe through Penola in South Australia, across the border into Victoria and the town of Casterton, the home of another of our icons, the kelpie.
So I was set – great countryside, an icon, a quest for gold, a so-called lady bushranger – with a twist.
Hope you enjoy the read.
Thank for having me, Alli.
Darry is kindly offering one lucky commenter a copy of her new release, Elsa Goody, Bushranger. All you have to do is leave a comment below and tell us about your favourite historical female – real or fictional. Give away entries are open until 1 July, 2020 at 11.59 pm AEST.