Bridge to Wiseman's Cove" set in a particular place?
Yes, it is set around Fraser Island and two
nearby towns, Rainbow beach and Tin Can Bay. I had to change the
geography a little to suit my story, so I have chged the names. Also, I
did not want the people of Rainbow Beach to think I was modelling the
characters on them, which I did not do anyway, but they might have
thought that I did.
of the characters real?
No. I know Rainbow
Beach, Tin Can Bay and Fraser island very well and used them as the
setting with just a few things changed. However, I don't know the people
of these places at all, apart from my own parents. The characters are
either an amalgamation of people I have met in my life, perhaps the odd
relative included or else they are completely invented to play a
particular role in the story. Skip Duncan is a bit like a salty old sea
captain. You almost expect him to start speaking like a pirate - "avast
there, me hearties. Ahr, ahr". I've seen a few boys like Harley in
schools, even in my own classroom from time to time. All kids like
Harley need is a bit of love and patience and a firm hand and they are
fine. Unfortunately, without a fair go, they end up bitter and
did the ideas come from for the story?
I had always wanted
to do a story set in the beautiful surroundings of Rainbow Beach and
Fraser Island. After a few novels with strong social themes, I just
wanted to write an engaging story. I wanted to show how a boy could win
through, with determination and a bit of help and love.
I was asked
to speak at a conference in Melbourne in 1995. After my session, I sat
in the audience and heard the next speaker, the psychologist, Michael
Carr-Gregg. He said something interesting: that all teenagers eventually
ask themselves this question. Am I normal? I knew what he meant. As a
teenager, I had worried that all the new and at times difficult changes
and emotions happening to me. I realise now that everyone was going
through the same thing but at the time, I didn't. I made Carl worry
about that. He comes to believe that he is unlovable, until the people
and events of the story show him otherwise. He helps to heal himself but
he couldn't have done it without Joy and Justine.
that Harley would be lost on the bay came from seeing half a dozen young
boys puttering about in a two metre long "tinny" with no life jackets
and no idea of the risks they were taking. As for Harley being chained
up - I've been challenged about this - that no one would be so cruel but
let me tell you, children are regularly treated a lot worse than Harley
is by Beryl.
injury and death caused by Dessie Matt, Carl's grandfather, I relied on
an actual incident I witnessed while working in a factory over the
school holidays. One young guy had the hots for the pretty young
secretary. He thought he'd impress her with his driving ability in the
car park one day but lost control of the vehicle and slammed into her,
breaking her leg.
you in writing the book?
I have always liked
the books, "A Bridge to Terebithia" and "I am David" and I think these
influenced my book. I had also read the following books in the few years
before I started "A Bridge to Wiseman's Cove."
Mr Tom" by Michelle Magorian
Shipping News" by Annie Proulx (adult book)
"Homecoming" by Cynthia Voigt and
May" by someone Cynthia Rylant.
movie ‘Il Postino’
If you know
those books, you will probably see similarities here and there eg. the
death or disappearance of a mother, a gentle character of great inner
strength making a new life for himself and his loved ones. There was no
conscious copying of these books but they were an influence.
on the cover?
I took the cover
photo of the boy myself. He was in year 12 at Marist College Ashgrove at
the time and reminded me of what Carl looked like in my mind. The
picture was scanned by Peter Evans who designed and produced the rest of
the cover. The pretty blonde on the back caused a problem. (Sorry boys,
I don't have her phone number) In my story, Maddie was dark haired but
Peter Evans showed her as a blonde. I didn't notice until the cover was
printed. However, since the text hadn't yet been printed in book form to
clue inside the covers, I was able to change the references to
the publishers and I decided we needed a new cover. The same designer,
Peter Evans, came up with the osprey soaring over a sparkling blue
ocean. I like this new cover but still have a lingering affection for
the original. Year later still, UQP redesigned the covers of all my
books and this resulted in a third cover for the novel.