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Guest blogger: Marilyn Forsyth

7 May 2017

Opal fever

I have this ‘thing’ for opals, so it’s probably no surprise that the setting for my latest romance, Falling in Love Again (book 2, Outback Gems), is an opal mining town. In one scene, my heroine Gemma experiences digging for opals for the first time. Now, Gem’s a practical person, a scientist—a paleontologist to be exact—and way too level-headed to succumb to opal fever. Until she unearths an opalised shell.

That’s when the chills take over, accompanied by the pounding heart and the loss of breath, the flushed face and the glittery eyes. All the symptoms that come with the thrill of discovering an opal in the raw.

What would I know about opal fever? I’ve felt it!

Well, kind of.

Marilyn at Lightning Ridge

When I was researching opal mining for this book, my husband and I visited a friend who lived at Lightning Ridge. Like most of the residents of the town he had a small mine on his property. After a quick lesson on the basics of how to find opals, he left us to our treasure hunting. With torches strapped to our helmets and armed with freshly-bought shovel and pick, we clambered several metres down the rusty vertical ladder onto the dirt-piled floor of the mine.

In the confined space, we took turns at digging, one of us chipping away at the earth with the hand-pick while the other shovelled away the dirt. It was hard work, but we were feeling lucky (plus, the prospect of becoming instant millionaires really kind of appealed). It was my turn when, in the torchlight, a shimmering blue gleam appeared in the earth wall. That’s when I felt it—the chills and the thrills of a find!

The possibility of locating more gems was overwhelming. We continued digging (enthusiastically), with that brilliant blue seam constantly showing, until it grew late. We gouged out some samples and carried them up top.

Our friend couldn’t believe our luck—he’d been digging down there for months and found zilch. Eagerly, we emptied our clumps of earth onto the table and watched our blue gleams reveal … nothing!

It turned out that the brilliant gleam was actually bright-blue paint from the brand-new hand-pick!

Ah well, I may not have made my fortune ☹, but I did get a taste of the excitement of opal fever. 😊

In this excerpt from Falling in Love Again, Gem gets her first taste of opal fever:

Gem gave an involuntary squeal and, fingers trembling, gouged the nobby from the clay to weigh it in her hand as Jamie had shown her. Excitement raced along her limbs; the hair on the back of her neck tingled. The clod felt heavy. She turned it over, heart in her mouth, searching out a flash of colour.

And there it was.

The sight stole her breath. Trapped within the shell a riot of dancing colours came leaping out at the play of light from the torch on her hat. Chills exhilarated through her body.

‘Look!’ She squealed, holding out the treasure for inspection.

Jamie picked up the nobby, gave a lick and put it up to the light. Pinpricks of fire flashed as he angled it in different directions.

‘It’s a little beauty,’ he said, handing it back.

She grabbed the shell, flung her arms around him and attempted to jump up and down in the tiny space. ‘Isn’t it? My God, it’s-it’s exquisite. I can’t believe…Oh wow, this is so exciting.’ She was babbling and bursting with pride.

‘That’s the way it should be.’ Jamie had the sexiest laugh.

She grinned back at him, a glow of pleasure burning deep inside.

‘Uh oh,’ he warned. ‘You’ve caught it.’

‘Caught what?’ One hand lay against her chest, attempting to slow the wild thumping.

‘Opal fever.’ He nodded knowingly.

Because he couldn’t stand upright, their faces were very close. She looked him directly in the eye. ‘Is it fatal?’ she asked on a laugh.

He grinned. ‘Once the fever hits your bloodstream, you’ll never get rid of it.’

Marilyn Forsyth would love to live in a world where everyone’s story has an ending as happy as those in her books. Her emotion-packed outback romances combine hunky heroes and huggable heroines with settings in some of Australia’s most remote and beautiful places.

She lives, surrounded by bush, with her husband in the foothills of a coastal village south of Sydney. She is also part-owner of a castle in Scotland. (Okay, it’s only a one-square-foot plot in the castle grounds but, hey, it entitles her to be called ‘Lady Marilyn of Chaol Ghleann’. 🙂 )

The Farmer’s Perfect Match (book 1, Outback Gems) was published in February 2016. Falling in Love Again (book 2, Outback Gems) was published in April 2017.

You can find Marilyn here: Website | Facebook | Breathless in the Bush

  1. Enisa permalink
    7 May 2017 7:24 pm

    Hi Marilyn. Opals are gorgeous and mysterious too with their range of colours and sparkles so writing a romance featuring the gemstone is a great idea. And what a gorgeous romance you give us. I loved Gemma and Jamie’s journey as they fell in love again. Full of emotion.

    • emforsyth permalink
      7 May 2017 7:29 pm

      Thanks Enisa! So glad to know you enjoyed the journey. xx

  2. Malvina permalink
    7 May 2017 5:24 pm

    I’m looking forward to getting a bit of Opal fever when I read your book, Marilyn. I do love opals, their fire and flash are so beautiful. Congratulations on your new baby, and what a wonderful cover.

    • emforsyth permalink
      7 May 2017 6:48 pm

      Thanks so much, Malvina! I do hope you enjoy Gemma and Jamie’s story.

  3. Sharon Burke permalink
    7 May 2017 4:00 pm

    Hi Marilyn, I think the flashing colours of opals have a magical quality. I also love the feeling of mystery and excitement that accompanies a visit to an opal town. Lightning Ridge, White Cliffs and Coober Pedy – they all have special atmosphere uniquely their own. This distinguishes them from other mining towns. What great places to set romance novels!

    • emforsyth permalink
      7 May 2017 6:51 pm

      Hi Sharon! Yes, opal mining towns do have their own special ‘feel’ to them. You can’t help absorbing that ‘this could be your lucky day’ vibe and acting on it by having a go at digging.

  4. 7 May 2017 1:31 pm

    Hi Marilyn

    Great story about mining I can’t imagine how thrilling it would be to find and opal but Gemma was most taken woohoo on the new book I thoroughly enjoyed it the setting and the characters 🙂

    Have Fun

    • emforsyth permalink
      7 May 2017 6:54 pm

      Hi Helen! I’m so happy that you enjoyed Falling in Love Again. My hubby bought me a beautiful little opal to add to my charm bracelet to celebrate the book’s release. I love it!

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