Monday, September 24, 2012

Carol Preston

It’s my pleasure to introduce Australian writer, Carol Preston. Carol was born in Lithgow, NSW in 1948, and moved to the Illawarra at the age of five. In 1967 she married Neil Preston in Wollongong, where their two children, Tammy and Adam were born. One of Carol’s hobbies over many years has been family history research. It was this research which started Carol on the journey of writing novels. She has great admiration for the lives of her ancestors in Australia and has greatly enjoyed writing novels based on their stories and the inspiring history of the Australian people. 

Tangled Secrets In tragic circumstances Beth and her brothers are left in England to grow up without their parents. When Beth’s childhood dream to be reunited with her father in Australia finally eventuates, she finds that dreams do not always come true. All that seems to follow is more abandonment. Will she ever find true love? Will she discover that she does not have to be alone before it’s too late? 

Welcome to Ink Dots, Carol. It's so great to have an Aussie writer as my guest. Where do you call home and what do you love about it? Home for me is Wollongong, on the South Coast of New South Wales, just an hour south of Sydney. I love it because it’s more like a country town than a city, even though to travel into the city for theatre or visits is quite easy. I’m just ten minutes from beautiful beaches and yet ten minutes from lovely mountain walks and rain forest – and the weather is temperate all year round. What could be more perfect? Indeed... it does sound perfect!

Why did you become an author? I’ve always dreamed of writing a book but until I had gathered nearly twenty years of family history I didn’t really have a passion to write a novel. Once I had all that information about my early ancestors in Australia, my imagination went wild until I decided to write those fascinating stories in some form that my own descendants and others could appreciate and learn from. I hear you. Historical details have a wonderful way of inspiring the storyteller in us. 

Why did you choose this period of history to set Tangled Secrets? When I found that my family history in Australia went back to the First Fleet of convicts sent from England and Ireland, I became very interested in those first one hundred years of Australian history – how white man settled, survived, changed the landscape and developed as a people. It was suddenly very personal. My stories have gradually moved into the beginning of the second hundred years of course, but I still think we have much to learn about that period of our development as Australians. 

What are you reading now? Is it fiction for pleasure or research for you next projectI am always doing research for my next book – on towns and events and people who lived in the period of the ancestors I’m writing about, so history books and articles and on line resources are never far from my desk. I’m also always reading for pleasure. I’ve just completed Dan Brown’s The Symbol, which was fantastic. He’s one of my favourite authors. I’m now reading Jo Wanner’s Though the Bud be Bruised as I like to keep up with what other Australian authors are writing. This is a very moving story.  

Where can we find you on the internet? My website is 
I’m also on Facebook plus I have an author page 

Thanks so much for joining with us today, Carol. I can't wait to hear more about your writing and the journey it's taking you on. 


Carol's heroine, Beth, nurtured a childhood dream to reunite with her father. That's some desire. What was your childhood dream? I bet you're not surprised to know mine was to become a librarian. 

For your chance to win a copy of Tangled Secrets tell us what you hoped would be part of your adult world when you were little. I'll announce the winner in the comment thread here on Friday. 

In the meantime, you might like to read the opening pages of Tangled Secrets. Enjoy, and good luck in the draw. 

“Where is there dignity unless there is honesty?”
Cicero 106 BC - 43BC


Beth stared out over the trees lining the river. The fading afternoon light gave them strange shapes against the sky. A single star winked at her through hazy grey clouds as she leaned back into her porch chair. 
‘How has it come to this?’ she whispered into the stillness. ‘Whatever am I to do?’ 
She clutched to her stomach the soft whiteness of the sheets she had just pulled from the clothesline, and felt the slight roundness of her belly. 
‘Dear God, please help me.’
Tears welled in her eyes and she looked around the back yard of the small cottage which was now her home. The space was empty but for the dim outline of a garden bed. The only sounds were the distant shrill of a cicada and the soft cooing of birds as they settled into the boughs of the trees. They ought to be comforting sounds around her home as she prepared to settle in for the evening. But she didn’t feel one bit at home. There was no sense of comfort, only loneliness and fear. 
The smell of the stew she’d put on to cook earlier, now wafted out to her. Even that made her stomach turn. How long would it sit there bubbling away, waiting for her husband to come home hungry? Would this be another long evening of pacing the floor and wondering how on earth she had found herself in this place? 
Raising her eyes to the skies again, she saw a second and then a third star peep from behind clouds, twinkling as if to draw attention to themselves as the day melted away around them. 
‘Are you trying to tell me something, God? Help me understand what I did wrong.’ She sniffed back tears. ‘I had such hopes and dreams. I’ve waited so long. I was so sure Father wanted me here with him in Australia.’ 
When there was no response but silence, Beth shook her head sadly and rose from her chair. Inside the tiny kitchen, she folded the sheets carefully and laid them on the sideboard. Then she stirred the stew on the stove, licking the spoon as she drew it out of the thick brown sauce. It seemed tasteless. Could she do nothing right? 
‘If only I had someone to talk to,’ she muttered. ‘If only I had a friend. Surely that’s not so much to ask, is it, Lord?’   
Gathering the clean sheets into her arms again, she moved into her bedroom and pulled open the chest at the end of the bed. She laid the linen into it carefully, and then dropped heavily into the armchair in the corner of the room.
‘Perhaps tomorrow.’ She sighed. ‘Perhaps tomorrow will be better.’ 

Chapter One

Wiltshire, England, May, 1829
The stone bench under Bill’s buttocks was hard and cold, but not nearly as icy as the twisting knot in his stomach. His face contorted as tears ran from his eyes, over his bristly cheek and into his beard. 
The other prisoners gave him a wide berth. He knew they would find no words of comfort to offer him. As if it wasn’t bad enough to face the prospect of never seeing his family again but then to have the news that not only his wife but his three-month-old baby had passed away. Now Bill’s other three children would be left motherless as well as fatherless. Even the most hardened of criminals would cringe at the thought. And Bill Nipperess certainly didn’t think of himself as a hardened criminal. Poaching one lamb to feed his family seemed a paltry reason to be shipped to the other side of the world for the rest of his life.
Bill wasn’t a man to say much at any time, but now he couldn’t even bring himself to look at the small huddle of prisoners who had gathered on the far side of the cell. He wondered if he’d ever have the heart to speak again. It had been hours since the warden had hissed his gruesome message into the darkness, as if were some piece of irrelevant gossip. In another life such heartlessness would be considered utterly inhumane. But Bill knew the prisoners’ lives had ceased to matter to their jailers. Soon they would all be taken on board one of the ships being readied to sail to New South Wales. In no time at all they would just be forgotten refuse. 
‘Can I get you a drink of water?’ One of the prisoners called, his voice cracked with pity.
Bill didn’t answer. He sat as stone-like as the walls and floor around him, his eyes staring into nothingness. 
‘P’raps he’ll go stark raving mad,’ another whispered. 
‘P’raps it’d be better to be so,’ said a third. ‘Better than knowin’ what we’re to go through … an’ thinkin’ about his younguns all alone.’
‘I heard he has sisters. Let’s hope they take care of the little ones.’
‘Small comfort I should imagine, for he’ll never see them again now.’


Bill was thirty years old when he arrived in Sydney Cove on the convict transport, Katherine Stewart Forbes. It was February eighteenth, 1830. Along with some of his fellow prisoners he was assigned to tented convict quarters at Parramatta and put to work on one of the farm plots taken up by members of the military corps. As the months passed, his body hardened and tanned with the physical work but his mind remained tortured. He was sure he would never heal from the devastating loss of his freedom, his home, and his family. He would never forgive himself for leaving his Martha alone, pregnant with their fourth child and ailing from the impoverished existence he had been able to provide in Wiltshire. He had nightmares about Martha’s last days and hours. Her ravaged face was etched into his mind like a raw burn. Her anguished cries woke him often and he would wretch with the agony of the sound in his ears.
However, as the months turned to years, Bill could not deny the glimpses of hope rising within him. He had heard other convicts talk of bringing their families out from England. The pessimism that had reigned in the early days of the colony had gradually been replaced by visions of rich pasturing and successful industries. Even a modest land holding and hard work could produce a life that far surpassed the meager existence available for the common man in England. Well-behaved convicts were regularly given Tickets of Leave before their sentences expired. This enabled them to work as paid employees rather than in servitude. They could become more independent and make choices about their future. If they were seen to honour this privilege they were sometimes granted a Certificate of Freedom, which saw them released from all the obligations of their convict status. They became free men in a new and growing colony where prospering was encouraged and assisted. 
In June of 1839, after working hard as an assigned convict for nine years, Bill was granted a Ticket of Leave. He was given a transfer to Fielding’s sheep farm in the Parramatta area where he became known as a diligent worker; a no-nonsense character who could be trusted with responsibility. It was here that he began to dream of a better life. Although at first he had tried hard to push thoughts of his children from his mind, now he began to think about them more and more. Beth was his eldest. A pretty, fair-haired six-year-old she had been when he left. Then there were his boys: Tom and Henry. They’d been just four and two. His sisters had called Tom, ‘Nipper’, from the beginning. He wondered if the nickname had stuck. He teared up whenever he thought of their rascally grins, their hazel eyes and masses of floppy curls. Could he possibly bring them to this foreign place? Could he take them from the only family they would likely remember? Would they want to be with him? Could they ever forgive him?