Saturday, June 16, 2012

Book Cover from Oz . . .

There's something unexpected about researching online. Since it's increasingly unlikely I'll be traveling to Tasmania anytime soon, I've been searching out videos on YouTube and images about key points, Port Arthur, Hobart Town, and the midlands of Tasmania, then trying to imagine what these places must have been like in the mid 1840s -- what plants, what birds, what bugs, what weather, what people. I've found impossibly blue skies and a rich terrain from tropical fern forests, to trackless brush covered mountains, a myriad of small islands, and milder flat plains, ideal for sheep and cattle. 

Intrepid photographer, historian, motorcycle buff, antique book lover, and writer Murray Bernard of Tasmania has posted many exquisite photos online. But this picture of Sarah Island seems to capture the essence of my current work in progress, Years of Stone

Sarah Island (@ Murray Bernard)
Perhaps the sharp contrast between the ruined stones of what was once a prison on Sarah Island and the natural beauty of towering eucalyptus draws me. Few letters or books speak to what conditions were like so long ago for those men and women transported to Tasmania, to the land beyond. But should I choose to self-publish in about a year's time, this will be the cover. Thank you, Murray!

Sarah Island, active between 1822-1833, has the reputation of being the harshest penal colony in Van Diemen's Land. I've read somewhere that writers are to 'torture' their characters, but because my story is set in 1842-1844, my characters didn't have to go to Sarah Island. They suffered enough. Here's my other favorite of the view from Port Arthur, also taken by Murray Bernard.

Port Arthur (@ Murray Bernard)