Guest blogger: Helene Young
I’m in the Clare Valley in South Australia as I type this. The temperature’s hovering just shy of 40 degrees Celsius and the wind’s gusting in from the north. It’s a little different to the lazy sea breeze that would be ruffling the water and cooling Roobinesque in the Manly Harbour right now. It also means Christmas must be lurking around the corner!
As a Queenslander I’m used to Christmas wearing a sultry Santa suit and it always makes me think of our family home. At this time of year Mum’s backyard is full of the sharp tang of mangoes and the antiseptic smell of the Poinciana tree. The grass is crunchy underfoot, waiting with a silent stoicism for the rain to come.
The iron roof of the little Queenslander where Dad was born one hundred and two years ago protests against the fierce burn of the sun, creaking and cracking randomly. Even with insulation in the ceiling and the casement windows pinned wide open the air lies thick on our skin. As kids, if we were trapped in Brisbane rather than down at Currumbin Beach during the summer holidays, the garden hose would be out and the tables would be set under the spreading branches of the old mango trees. Sadly there’s only one of those trees still remaining and I don’t think Mum’s going to hitch up her skirts and chase us around the sprinkler this year!
Christmas is always about family and this year my family is more widely spread than usual. Capt G will be in the northern hemisphere and I’ll be in the south. He’ll be in Manchester, wearing multiple layers of clothes, eating hearty roasts and drinking mulled wine. I’ll be in Brisbane, cranking up the giant aircon in Mum’s house, eating salads and drinking long cold drinks.
My sister and her family will be in Swindon celebrating with a traditional lunch and I don’t doubt the heating will be gurgling. My brother and his children will hopefully be in Brisbane with Mum, Zeus and me.
I’ll miss everyone who’s overseas, but since technology keeps leaping ahead we’ll be hooked up to Face Time or Skype, being part of each other’s Christmas in a way we couldn’t ten years ago. I don’t doubt that we’ll all be in the same state by the end of the day too—stuffed full of good food, all talked out and drowsy!
For me Christmas is also a time to dream about the year ahead. Capt G and I have big plans for 2015—and we going to kick it off with ARRC2015 in Canberra on 6–8 March! Next will be the launch for Northern Heat in June, and from July onwards we’ll be looking for adventures. I’ll cherish Christmas more than usual this year as Mum heads towards her ninety-third birthday. And I’ll be grateful for the year that’s been, with all its challenges and opportunities to learn …
I hope that wherever you plan to spend Christmas it will be full of family, of love and laughter, and good friends. Are you hosting an orphan’s Christmas as we did many times in Cairns? Are you travelling a long way to return home to your family? Is everyone piling into your house to wallow in your pool? Or heading for the hills where the temperature will be more moderate?
To say thank you to all the ARRA readers for making 2014 my most successful year yet as a writer I’m giving away a Christmas pack, including Safe Harbour and Half Moon Bay, plus some other goodies. To go into the running all you need to do is be a member of ARRA, leave a comment on this blog and tell us how you plan on spending Christmas. The winner will be announced Sunday 14 December. If you’re not a resident of Australia then the prize will be ebooks on your chosen device. (Updated: the giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Deb D.)
Merry Christmas to you and yours, and may 2015 deliver on its promise! See you all in Canberra on Friday 6 March for ARRC 2015 :)
When Darcy Fletcher drags a handsome sailor from a stricken yacht, she finds herself drawn into his mysterious world. Having saved his life can she now rescue him from his dark past? Or will that endanger all she holds most dear?
Noah, keeper of the peace and guardian of the Banskia Cove secrets, knows he can’t he tell Darcy the real reason this man has washed up on their shores. If she knew the links between the stranger and her own dysfunctional family, she’d flee the Cove and he’d lose her love forever.
As they take refuge in an old whaling station, only one thing is certain – by morning, no one will be the same again. Lies will surface. Hearts will break, and not all will find safe harbour.
A heart-stopping novel of high drama and desire by Australia’s award-winning master of romantic suspense.