When War Came to Australia

Land Army

Women’s Land Army, WW2. Photo from splash.abc.net.au

Mea culpa.

Yes, it’s been a while since I posted. The exciting news is that I’ve almost finished writing my new novel. Hey, there’s only so much a person can do in one day.

I’ve taken a short break from crime mysteries to make space for a story that has been bouncing about in my brain for around fifteen years. It started out as a family history: a story of migration, of the struggle to adapt to new ways, and finally of acceptance. My research journey took me to archives in four states, libraries, historical societies, museums, and of course the fabulous internet. It produced a mass of documents and gave me quite a few shocks along the way.

Then I realised a sad truth: who wants to read yet another family history?

Back to the drawing board, or rather the computer in the corner of my office.

After a complete rethink, all that material now forms the backdrop to a novel about World War Two in Australia. This was a fascinating period of our history: a time of innocence and wisdom and wild paranoia. For example, naturalized Australian citizens of German, Italian, or Japanese origin were arrested like common criminals, transported thousands of miles, and imprisoned for the duration of the war.

Just like that! No evidence, no proof, no trial.

The story is told from four perspectives: Delahunty, a state politician; Luigi, an Italian-Australian farmer; Edith, who runs the family farm in her husband’s absence; Ted, a guard at the Loveday Internment Camp. The action takes place in three separate locations: Far North Queensland, Brisbane, and the Riverland District of South Australia.

Researching the period from 1939 to 1945 has proven to be a joy. I did not live through those amazing years, but I’ve come to realise that the living history, the stories of first-hand experience that make names and dates come to life, will soon disappear. People who remember the headline PEACE! – printed in three-inch letters in the Telegraph on the 15th August 1945 – are now in their nineties. In a few years they will be gone.

What I’ve uncovered, I want to share … lest we forget.

So stay tuned. You’re in for a few surprises.


About Debbie Terranova

Debbie Terranova is an Australian author of contemporary and historical fiction. 'The Scarlet Key' published in 2016 is the second Seth VerBeek mystery. The crime-busting reporter is back with a new cast of unforgettable characters and a new puzzle to solve. It's about live, love, death, and tattoos, with a touch of the mystical. 'Baby Farm', her debut novel, is a cozy crime mystery about forced adoptions of the 1970s, and a surrogacy and baby trafficking racket. It is the first of the Seth VerBeek series. Debbie Terranova is a prizewinning author of short stories: 'Mowbray Brothers' about growing up in East Brisbane in the 1920s; and 'Mischief' about reinventing yourself and in the process falling in love ... with an adorable but mischievous cat.
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