My guest today is from the other side of the equator and in an entirely opposite hemisphere. Please welcome Meryl Brown Tobin, a fellow Wild Rose Press author from Australia. She’s here today to provide insight into her debut novel, BROOME ENIGMA.
Meryl has a unique background for composing a mystery, and she’s multi-published in a number of fields. Here’s her bio:
Meryl Brown Tobin is an Australian writer who writes fiction and non-fiction for adults and children, poetry, educational puzzles and the odd cartoon and comic strip. She has had 22 books published, including two with other writers, and hundreds of poems, puzzles, short stories, travel and other articles, and cartoons published in more than 150 print and digital publications in Australia and overseas. Her debut novel, ‘Broome Enigma’, a romantic suspense novel, was published by The Wild Rose Press in November, 2023. Details: https://sites.google.com/view/merylbrowntobin-author and Meryl Tobin - Society of Women Writers Victoria (swwvic.org.au).
I’ve watched some TV series and movies but read only a few novels set Down Under. Tell us about your book's premise.
On a working holiday in Australia's cosmopolitan Outback town of Broome in 1986, Jodie, a young book designer and artist is open to romance and adventure.
At the holiday village where she is staying, she meets Joe, a young man who works there. Despite the strong attraction between them, the many unknowns about his earlier life keep them apart. To try to uncover his mysterious past, they travel to Perth and back to Broome and are drawn into not only bizarre but also dangerous situations.
Is Joe the person she thinks he is, or is he some alter ego? Can Jodie and Joe stop their relationship from developing until they have answers and know if he is free to love her?
That sounds intriguing. Why did you choose this setting and time period for BROOME ENIGMA?
Broome is now a top tourist destination attracting many thousands of tourists each year. With its remoteness, turquoise sea, rugged red sandstone cliffs and kilometres long stretch of white sands at Cable Beach, Broome is a colorful exotic place to visit in Outback Western Australia, Australia that goes back to the Dreamtime. A pearling town from the late 1800s until the mid 1900s, it is peopled by Aborigines, Japanese, Chinese, Malayans, Filipinos, Koepangers (East Indonesians) and Europeans, a truly cosmopolitan town. During World War 2, it was turned into a military garrison.
As I am a travel writer as well as a fiction writer, I had already written a chapter on the area in my travel book ‘Exploring Outback Australia’. But that was not enough––it is such a unique place, I wanted it as the setting for a novel.
On one of our Outback trips, we met a good-looking young man who was a maintenance man at a holiday park we stayed at. Dressed only in jeans and sandals and shifting around sprinklers, he was longish-haired and perfectly tanned and looked as though he had just stepped off a film set about surfers. However, he did not smile and had a ‘dampened down’ personality. That prompted me to wonder how someone like him came to be working in a caravan park and I played the ‘What If...?’ game. In time answers formed and I came up with a hero whose past life was shrouded in mystery.
Okay, you’ve hooked me. Let’s read a sample:
A big gust of wind rocked the van and flung Jodie hard against Joe. He pushed her off.
“Joe, it’s me, Jodie! Wake up, wake up!”
“Jodie, is that you?” He threw his arms around her and buried his head in her chest.
She brushed his hair back from his sweating face.
“Take it easy, Joe. Take deep breaths. It’s okay. It’s going to be okay.”
He stopped shaking and pulled back from her. “What’s happening?”
“It’s the cyclone. Don’t you remember?”
Another huge gust shook the van and sent Jodie sprawling on Joe’s bunk and into the wall. “Ow, that hurt!” She picked herself up and rubbed her head. The van rocked violently again. Joe and Jodie grabbed for handholds.
“Quick, come into my bed with me, Joe. It will be safer there.” Tripping and feeling their way along the wall, the two made their way to the double bed and clambered in.
Her breathing coming in short spasms, she lay on her back and took deep breaths. The storm whined and screeched about her, and the roof creaked and scraped.
“Oh, my god, the roof’s going to take off any minute!”
Joe’s arms enveloped her. “Hush, everything will be all right. But will you be okay if we have to make a run for it?”
“Yes.” She let out a sob. “But I like our chances better in here than out there.”
Joe kissed her forehead. He pulled her closer and they lay locked against each other while the storm raged around them.
Whew! Can’t imagine riding out a storm like that. Readers agree:
COMMENT BY EARLY BIRD READER OF ‘BROOME ENIGMA’
Felicia Di Stefano
“Finished your book. Very much a page turner kept me up till 1.30 am one morning.
Wow what a thriller. Would never have worked out the end!”
More comments on https://sites.google.com/site/merylbrowntobin - NOVELS.
I’m an “into the mist” writer. What’s your process?
For no particular length of time––could be minutes, hours, days, months or years––I’ll have ideas forming in my mind. My mind is like a giant computer that keeps making and storing pieces of jigsaw. One day they’ll align and I’ll have the germ of a story. I might think it over in bed that night, and, in the morning I can’t wait to get to the computer to write it up.
A novel like ‘Broome Enigma’ might take decades to write. In the last 30 or so years, I have written six novels, along with hundreds of smaller pieces, including short stories, articles and educational puzzles. With the help of Val Mathews, a now former editor with The Wild Rose Press who showed me how to write in a style to suit the publishing house, and current editor Ally Robertson, I have now published my first novel and, in time, will rework my earlier novels.
With all your experiences publishing in so many writing fields, yet BROOME ENIGMA being your first published novel, can you share some tips for aspiring writers?
- Read widely, especially in the genre of your interest. Try to analyse why a work is successful or not.
- Write what you know and what you can research to fill in the gaps.
- Do a writing course. It’s a lot quicker than learning by trial and error.
- If you are a novelist, consider writing short pieces as well and send them out for publication. It is a long time between novels and having your name in print establishes your reputation.
- Network with other writers by joining writers’ support groups and critique groups.
- Get constructive criticism, whether from a TAFE course, writing buddies, a mentor or a good editor.
- Plan your novel. You might fully set it out before you start or you might have an outline in your head and let your novel unfold as you write.
- Show, don’t tell. To help you master this, read the two books recommended by editor Val Mathews: Mary Buckham's ‘A Writer's Guide to Active Setting’ and Janice Hardy's ‘Understanding Show, Don't Tell’.
- Write your rough draft without worrying about editing. The main thing is to get it down. Editing can come later. Once edited, let it jell before sending it off.
If you think writing a novel is hard, wait until you try to find a publisher or an agent, or, if you self-publish, a market. Consider trying The Wild Rose Press Inc, which published my debut novel Broome Enigma. The publishing house was established by two authors who believe publishing should be a joint effort between publisher, author and editor.
I heartily second the recommendation for THE WILD ROSE PRESS, as that's my publisher too.
Three cheers for Meryl Brown Tobin for giving us a peek into life on the other side of the equator. Show her your support by checking out BROOME ENIGMA at these worldwide sites:
Better Read than Dead (Sydney) Welcome to BRTD - Better Read Than Dead Bookstore Newtown
Barnes & Noble (USA) Broome Enigma by Meryl Brown Tobin, Paperback | Barnes & Noble® (barnesandnoble.com)
Booktopia (Australia) https://www.booktopia.com.au/broome-enigma-meryl-brown-tobin/book/9781509250639.html
Mighty Ape (NZ) https://www.mightyape.co.nz/product/broome-enigma/38222278
https://www.exlibris.ch/de/buecher-buch/english-books/meryl-brown-tobin/broome-enigma/id/9781509250639/ (Germany, Switzerland, Austria?)