I got the idea for my current work in progress, Balmain in Love, from watching an old man tend the roses at Elkington Park, Balmain. I never spoke to the man so I don’t know why he was taking care of the roses in a park but he sparked an interest in me and I created his back story which was that he had lost his wife and this was his memorial to her. My travelling partner had other ideas and believed that there was treasure under the soil.
The other part of the backstory came from microfiche versions of the Sydney Morning Herald. I was just researching generally for the time period to understand Sydney society in the 50s and 60s (when my main character was a young man) and I chanced upon an advertisement for the Sydney Morning Herald Garden Competition. I decided that it would be an interesting exercise to make my character enter this competition at the behest of his wife.
To do this I needed to understand more about gardening and with a fairly barren front and back yard in my sub-tropical home, I decided to start gardening. Little did I realise that as well as creating an outdoor writing space and giving me an insight into my fictional character, I would find a new creative love for me. Now not a weekend goes by without me going to a nursery or the local trash and treasure markets to find another piece to add to my recycled garden.
Gardening has bought my fictional character a new depth and has bought me a passion that will last long after this novel is finished.