Today we welcome Darry Fraser to the chair.
Her debut print novel is released today!
Annie, thank you so much for having me in the chair.
What inspired me to write Daughter of the Murray?
To be honest – I can’t remember! It was so long ago, back in 1983. I’d just moved to Alice Springs and I’d spent some time on the Murray at Swan Hill. Those days were pretty happy days for me. I don’t think I ever forgot it.
So, when in Alice with a bit of time on my hands I thought I’d write a novel. I’d always written stories, but at the ripe old age of 23 or so, I thought it was about time to get serious. I put pencil to Collins Notebook and inside the year I had a novel finished. It was a masterpiece; it was going to rule the world!
Until I saw All The Rivers Run on the tele, then my masterpiece was swiftly, sadly relegated to the bottom drawer. I would go to writer’s purgatory if I published my story (believing, of course, it was worthy of publication)… It was all about a young woman who finds herself taking an adventure on the mighty Murray in the majestic and the not-so-majestic paddle steamers of the day.
All The Rivers Run had a very similar premise.
My story had lots of adventure and bad men in it. At that time, it didn’t have any behind-the-bedroom-door stuff.
Over the years, with the advent of word processors and computers, my story was transcribed. It kept changing shape, growing, and growing up and finally I felt game enough to give it to someone to read, to see if it would be worthy enough to put in front of a publisher. That was in 2015 – thirty-two years later. And from that point, and with that reader’s advice, the story blossomed, and was accepted for publication in November of that year.
In the last couple of years, the inspiration to mature the story has been the emergence of women as equals in society, and how they fitted into the world that was shaped for them, a world owned by the men in their lives.
My heroine has to choose between survival and independence, and learns the hard way that, in her day, they are very different things. The women’s suffragist movement was well underway, gaining momentum, but as we know with a long road to travel.
One thing I did not want to do, was make her – Georgina – a modern 21st century woman in 19th century costume. She might be her own person, but she was still constrained by the laws of her time, not to mention society’s expectations of her.
Domestic violence was rife, and women who were very much at the brunt of it at the time, and for a very long time since, had literally nowhere to go to seek refuge. I touched on this in Daughter of the Murray, especially within married relationships, and DV at the time is explored further in another story yet to see daylight.
If a woman wanted independence then, she had to be careful. And smart. I hope in Daughter of the Murray Georgina proves she as been both.
Of course, the River Murray is once again a hot topic of debate, and needs to remain in our focus.
Thanks again, Annie. You’re an inspiration yourself, and a wonderful mentor.
A well written story set in an interesting period of Australian history on the mighty Murray RIver.
Georgie is a strong feisty woman, making her way alone after suffering setbacks in life.
The description of setting evokes the Australian landscape beautifully, and the historical period is realistically portrayed. The depiction of the characters is realistic, and the sexual tension in Georgie’s first relationship lets us see the confusion of an inexperienced young woman who has the courage to go for what she thinks she desires
Darry Fraser’s debut novel is stunning with the promise of things to come.
1890s, River Murray, Northern Victoria
Georgina Calthorpe is unhappy living with her indifferent foster family the MacHenry’s in their crumbling house on the banks of the River Murray.
Unlike the rest of the family, she isn’t looking forward to the return of prodigal son Dane. With good reason. Dane MacHenry is furious when on his return he finds his homestead in grave decline. Unaware that his father has been drinking his way through his inheritance, he blames Georgina and Georgina decides she has no option but to leave. Unfortunately she chooses Dane’s horse to flee on, and when Dane learns she has stolen his prized stallion, he gives chase.
From this point their fates become intertwined with that of a businessman with a dark secret, Conor Foley, who offers Georgina apparent security: a marriage with status in the emerging nouveau-riche echelons of Melbourne. But none of them could imagine the toll the changing political and social landscape would have on homes, hearts and families.
Will Georgina’s path lead her into grave danger and unhappiness, or will she survive and fulfil her destiny?