My favourite beach is a bit further south than you are. It’s called Pearl Beach and it’s tucked in the Bouddi National Park a couple of hours north of Sydney. It used to be a bit of a fisherman’s retreat with a few cobbled together fibro holiday houses and a shop that smelled of fishing bait and outboard motor fuel and sold warm chocolate milkshakes, the odd ice cream and day-old newspapers. Sadly the shop’s long gone, replaced by a rather smart restaurant and coffee shop and even a real estate agent, but Pearl Beach and a few memories were the starting point for my story Tree Change.
It was where Cassia and Jake lived and this is the beach that inspired Cassia’s driftwood sculptures before fame and fortune dragged her away to Sydney.
Most of the old fibro shacks really have been replaced by million dollar holiday mansions just like the one Jake built, but the view is still the same!
I’m fascinated by that first idea - the stepping stone that leads to a story. I had no idea where Tree Change (The Shack as it was originally called) would lead but Pearl Beach was definitely my inspiration. I must be a places person because my next book Lily’s Leap is set in the time-warp village of Wollombi where I now live and it couldn’t be anything other than a historical, could it?
Maybe, Annie, we could make a collection of ‘stepping stones’ and find out what who or where inspires authors to begin their stories. I bet it was sitting in that chair of yours over looking the ocean that started Holiday Affair. Am I right?
Despite her success in the Sydney art world Cassia yearns for the idyllic life she once lead with Jake in their shack over looking the Pacific Ocean. Seeking closure she falls, like a recovering addict, straight back into his arms, and out again equally quickly. Not only has he taken up with his brother's wife but they have a child.
Truth is Jake is living a lie, sworn to secrecy and hamstrung by a promise. Cassia’s fey, artistic character and magical body possess his imagination and his heart. Can he convince her to trust him long enough to save the crumbling remains of their relationship?
There’s a longer excerpt here but this was the original Pearl Beach part of the story.
From his vantage point high on the cliff top, Jake could see Cassia across the beach, paddling through the shallow water as though she didn’t have a care in the world, bending occasionally to collect fragments from the sand. The cold water didn’t seem to bother her. She held her shoes in her hand as she danced through the shallows. He smiled at the picture she made, the sun silhouetting her long legs through her flimsy, bohemian skirt.
A large wave surged up the beach, and Cassia was unexpectedly knee-deep in the foam. She tipped her head back, and her flaxen hair cascaded down her back. He laughed aloud as she skipped away from the tide line then turned back to the ocean.
Counting the waves.
She was the only person he knew who followed the ridiculous belief that the seventh wave was always the biggest.
Cassia! Welcome home.
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Lurking in the back of Téa’s brain somewhere was the knowledge she would one day write a novel. It probably started with a rather risqué story in the back of an exercise book at boarding school and featured the long suffering school gardener - not really the stuff romantic heroes were made of but it was before she knew any better.
Life and few heroes of her own showed her the error of her ways and with a baby under one arm, a husband and a half built house she entered a Mills and Boon competition. To her absolute earth shattering amazement she won second place – the prize was a bottle of perfume! Next time she determined she would do better.
But it was still the stuff of fantasy and her family, a herd of alpacas, a protea farm and teaching intervened until one day she decided it was time to do or die. No more procrastination. The characters and plots that had lived in her head for so long were clamoring to escape.
In August 2011 she got serious and joined Romance Writers Australia, entered the Harlequin Mills & Boon New Voices competition and to her horror discovered she hadn’t been…discovered that is. Not even a bottle of perfume this time. But in reality she had won. With procrastination conquered determination set in. It was time to get serious.
Tree Change is her first contemporary romance novel and is available now. Her second, a historical novel Lily’s Leap - set in Wollombi, the time-warp village she calls home – was accepted by Lyrical Press and will be published in mid 2013. She is currently working on her second Australian historical novel Matilda’s Madness - inspired by some of the fascinating characters haunting the local museum.
When Téa is not in the museum she can be found on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.