I live in a small town just outside Mackay, Queensland, Australia. In between working at the local high school in the special education unit, ferrying my three girls back and forward to swimming squad and carnivals and the rest of that inconsequential mum/wife business, I write.
I am in awe of anyone writing with kids around. How do you manage it?
In those rare spare moments I try to get down a small portion of the many different plots and schemes I have running through my mind.
And I believe you have a "special lady"....
About three years ago, my special lady, she knows who she is, talked me into writing. I ummed and aahed over the idea for ages, I had no idea where to start. But one morning I had an idea and pulled out the laptop and went for it. Most nights now I drop off to sleep planning new scenes. I'm also an obsessive reader. I would simply curl up and die if I didn’t have a book to read. I read anything and everything, when I was younger I would pull out the old encyclopedias if Mum wouldn't let me go to the town library. It is a rare day that I don't pick up a book, even if it is only for five minutes before I nod off.
You must be thrilled to see Sightseers in print. It's an amazing cover! May it soar!
When Alex, Lukas and Marley meet the new guy at their school, Henry, they have no idea what he'll bring to their lives. Romance, an inexplicable connection between the four of them and reoccurring bad dreams for Alex.
They discover a past none of them could have contemplated before Henry's arrival. Alex's nightmares of a child abductor swiftly turn into a frightening reality which affects them all. Finding someone who will help may seem easy, but can they trust them enough to keep their secrets?
It becomes a race against time to save not only the child, but one of their own.
I sat back and watched Lieutenant Kirk's face. At first I could tell he thought Max was losing his mind He shuffled in his spot and kept sneaking glances toward us as if we were going to disappear in a puff of smoke. His eyebrows arched so high at one point I thought they might migrate into his hair for good.
Yep! Obviously he thought we were all crackpots. At least he has the decency to let Max finish what he was saying. When Max did finish the Lieutenant just sat there with a blank look on his face. You could tell his brain had gone way into overdrive. I checked Max's reaction. He was looking back at me, the expression on his face worried. An expression I was fairly certain we all wore. I wonder how long it would be before he'd speak.
"Well, this is a lot to take in. I'm not really sure what to say to be honest and I really don't know what to do," he said as he looked around at each of us.
"Maybe if I explain a bit more about their past you might b—" Max started to say.
"What is that smell? Did you guys put something in the oven?" the Lieutenant interrupted.
"No, we didn't." Henry said wrinkling his nose.
"What's wrong, Lukas?" Marley asked as she saw the look on his face. Next thing I knew she was jumping up off the couch and moving toward him.
What the hell was Lukas doing? He had ripped his jacket off and was in the process off tearing off his T-shirt. What was that smell? God it was awful, like something burning. Then something clicked in my brain, and my stomach dropped.
Marley screamed and we leapt up. Lukas had perfect circular burns appearing all over his arms and chest. His eyes met mine, terrified, as he sank back onto the couch.
Henry grabbed for my hand and I saw the horror reflected in his eyes. I knew what he was thinking, what Marley and Lukas were thinking too. Max was staring at Lukas, his face almost as white as Lukas'. The only one in the room who seemed to have no idea what was going on was Lieutenant Kirk.
"Somebody care to tell me what's going on? Why the hell has he got burns popping up all over him? Max! What's going on?" he asked, flustered.
"I told you, whatever he does to Lauran, it happens to Lukas too," Max said quietly, still staring at Lukas in disbelief.
"Jesus, you mean he has just done this to that little girl? My God, the bastard!" He looked truly horrified.
"Do you believe us now?" Marley snapped as she rounded on him. She was shaking and struggling to hold back tears. Lukas took her hand.
"Don't worry, I can handle it. It's not as bad as my wrists, although it will be hard to sleep tonight. I won't be able to roll over much," Lukas said, trying to put on a brave face for us.
"Max, get the boy the doctor, quick," Lieutenant Kirk barked out. "I'm sorry, son, can I get you anything to make you more comfortable?"
"No, there is nothing you can do." Lukas closed his eyes and concentrated on breathing deeply. He wasn't letting on just how much pain he was in. Marley was whispering in his ear and kissed him gently on the forehead. She was doing a great job of keeping it together.
"Lukas," I said quietly, tears threatening to spill over any second.
"Don't, Alex. It is not your fault. Don't even go there, okay?" Lukas said without even opening his eyes.
I sat back down and stared at him. The poor guy, you could see how much effort it was taking him to block out the pain. Tears ran unchecked down my face. Why is this happening to us?
A small sob escaped, and Marley threw me a look that said, "get it together" and shook her head. She was right. I had to pull it together for Lukas. I stood, went outside, sucked in a few deep breaths, and leaned up against the wall before I completely lost it. Slowly, I slid to the floor and sobbed to myself for a few seconds before Henry's feet appeared in my line of sight. He kneeled down and shuffled himself against the wall next to me. He reached around to pull me to him, holding me while I blubbered. When I calmed myself a little I looked up at him, wondering if I would be able to be as strong as Marley if that was Henry in there in so much pain.
"Feeling better?" he asked gently as he kissed the side of my head.
"Yes and no. He's so strong, Henry, but how can he keep putting up with pain? How can they both keep on going with this? This is crazy, it doesn't make any sense. I was looking at you just now wondering if I could watch you go through that and I don't know that I could. Marley is so strong."
"You know Marley lost it big time when Lukas got the rope burns. She's just figured out that being strong helps Lukas stay strong. And I'm sure you would be just as tough. You have been reliving that dream every night and you haven't lost your mind yet, have you?" he said giving me a squeeze.
I sighed and wrapped my arms around him. "Thank you, Henry. I don't know how I would cope with this if you weren't around."
"We all need to be there for each other if we are going to get through this. Come on, we need to get back in there. All right now, babe?" he asked as he got to his feet.
"Yes, I'll be all right." I took the hand he offered me. He pulled me to my feet and turned to head back to the room. I tugged him back toward me and kissed him softly.
"What was that for?" he asked as I pulled away.
"For being you. For calming me and giving me strength," I said.
And being everything I've ever needed.