Bonnie Doon

bbbWriting is a strange alchemy. Today I was reminded again, that what ends up in the final draft of a book is a mere shadow of so much more.

I’m currently on holiday with my husband in what we in WA call ‘the eastern states’. As someone who grew up on this side of Australia, that term always makes me smile – I feel like I have a foot in both sides of our vast country.

This afternoon Pete and I drove the long way from Melbourne to Albury via the mountains, where many of my relations hail from. In particular, I wanted to visit Bonnie Doon…

When I was writing Light Horse Boy, I needed a town for my fictitious LH Boy to come from. My mother claims that we are linked by marriage to Steve Hart, from the Kelly gang, and many of my relies were stunt men in the movie, The man from Snowy River. Men of the high country are fabulous horse riders and I’m sure that these connections influenced my decision to make fictitious ‘Jim’ and ‘Charlie’ hail from the high country.

Whilst writing Light Horse Boy, I scanned Googlemaps of the places of my ancestors; particularly Mansfield and Bonnie Doon. So, today when we were driving from Melbourne, I wanted to detour via Bonnie Doon to see whether it was as I had imagined and to take some photos. The weather wasn’t great but I took some photos of the lovely WW1 memorial.

When we arrived at Albury, I found Mum’s copy of the book and sat down to reread the Bonnie Doon part.

To my surprise, Bonnie Doon wasn’t there!

Of all my books, the editing of Light Horse Boy was the most extreme. Two thirds of the first draft was chopped because of an overarching plot shift. The final version is better for this, however it was interesting that in my mind, Bonnie Doon, the town that Jim and Charlie galloped away from, the town that was so important in an earlier draft is actually no longer in the story. Instead we jump straight to Mansfield…

dddddIt was also interesting for me to remember that there are so many hidden layers to a story. Shadows of things that have been culled but that somehow still leave a sense of place and memory – at least they do for me as the author. Perhaps those shadows enrich the story, it’s hard to know, but I’m glad we made the detour…

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