Posted by Literary Titan
Beyond Sun and Shadows is a sweeping tale set on an Australian cattle station in 1948 and follows the lives of a small community as their lives are thrown into turmoil by unforeseen circumstances. The setup to this novel is unique and vivid. What were some influences that motivated you to write this story?
This novel is about my own experiences as I have explained in the note in first pages.
My father took me and my brother with him away from boarding colleges out to Roy Hill Station, south of Nullagine in the outback of Western Aust. to Roy Hill station (named Row hill station in the story). That place now belongs to Gina Reinhardt with her copper mines all around. I mentioned that I altered the names in the story. We stayed there and worked for some years until I went To Ethel Creek station down the track to help the Managers wife and children; and my Dad and Brother were moved north to Waterloo Station, near the Northern Territory border. Later on I joined them there. When finding a Lump on my back I was flown to Wyndham on the coast to have it removed. After being there for some weeks, as in my biography, I flew to Darwin and started work there as a clerk
with the Government for over two years.
Everything I wrote included myself (as Lea) and my family. All the story of the station and helping the shearers, mustering, The wet season, and animals are true, as were the staff of aboriginal workers and us going to their camp. We watched them dance and joined in with them clicking sticks in time. One old man Bindi the gardener, used to press his trousers under his mattress.
Some of the characters are from stations I went to during those few years. The main parts of fiction was the two young men who were murdered and the escaped prisoners who turned up there. A few of the events were fiction, but the characters I met there and at other stations were as I found them , except the head shearer who wrote poetry, but all the poetry written in there is mine. The local dialogue is true as it’s written. Many of the things the young daughter and her friend did and felt were my experiences.
This book has a diverse cast of characters. What character was your favorite to write for?
Favourite characters were many – Chipper (not his name), that mailman was fiction, the funny Chinese cook, and the little boy Eric whom I looked after (his name was Micheal). Everything I wrote about Wyndham did happen and were true, even the song they sang. The young girl who lived with her father, the weatherman, was my actual friend there.
I felt that the books themes seem to be humankind’s connection to the land and the pioneering spirit of the Australian people. What do you hope readers take away from your book?
I really hope that people reading my story will understand and realize this is the real outback country, and how the people of the outback come across. Not false or artificial, but as I described them. Their life is is in this land and most of them become part of the free spirit of the country with it red plains and spinifex whirling into the sky as willy willy’s do. Even my poetry in the book symbolizes the land and it inhabitants. I have written many story poems about the outback, the trees, the animals, pioneers and ordinary bush people. Some are humorous, some sad.
An epic adventure story set on the coast and inland, detailing life in Western Australia in 1948 on a sheep and cattle station. This is real outback living where dramatic events can occur and unforgotten shadows effect the everyday lives of others. When the meatworks were in Wyndham, escaped prisoners strike terror… a family and a stockman with unhappy pasts… the mailman finds a strange body on the road… an accident in windy weather… a shearer with talent… a tragic death daunts natives… a minister’s plane crashes… cattle rustlers cause a stampede… three girls lost in the mountain range discover the past… and even love alters lives…
Posted in Interviews
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Posted by Literary Titan
Lesley J. Mooney’s Beyond Sun and Shadows is another epic and sweeping tale from the author. Set in Western Australia on a sheep and cattle station in 1948, we follow the lives of a diverse set of characters who are faced with the harsh daily realities of living in the outback with all of its perils and wildness. After they learn of the escape of two dangerous prisoners and then a corpse is found by the local mailman, Ezrah, the community is thrown into turmoil. What ensues is a story of love, adventure and mystery in the Australian bush.
The books primary themes seem to be humankind’s connection to the land and the pioneering spirit of the Australian people, but there are also themes of love, ancestry and the masculine and the feminine. Although the story is set in the 1940’s/50’s, many of its concerns are modern so the book feels both historical and contemporary.
The thing that I loved most about this book was discovering some of the heritage of Australia, such as Aboriginal culture. Landscape plays an integral role in the story, and Mooney excels at writing environment and place–her prose is beautifully lyrical in these instances. Her descriptions of the vastness of the landscape and the tempestuous nature of the bush are particularly vivid and affecting. Not only does she invoke the wide open spaces of the outback, but she also conjures up the minutiae and ‘everyday’ aspects of life such as cooking, and working with the horses and cattle, in evocative detail.
Reading the book, I felt like I had been transported to a land completely foreign to me as the author writes with a very ‘Australian’ voice, but I felt immersed in the world in spite of being ignorant to it. Mooney’s dialogue feels natural. I really enjoyed her use of dialect and Australian phrases and idioms in the writing as well as the inclusion of songs and poetry. Writing dialect can be difficult to pull off, but I actually relished in the musical language of the characters, which added to the authenticity and overall tone of the narrative.
Mooney’s worlds are always fully formed and engaging throughout. She has created a troupe of memorable characters who stay etched in your memory; it is as though they have been living in the author’s mind forever ready to come alive on the page. Because the narrative encompasses so many characters and storylines, it can seem quite meandering at times, and I occasionally felt like I was reading a book of short stories rather than a novel. The book is quite lengthy, and I don’t think that it would have suffered for being a little shorter, but the yarn spun by the author kept me intrigued even whilst the pace was slightly lagging.
This is a rewarding read, full of intimate detail and stunning imagery which left me with a real yearning to visit the sprawling outback of Australia and experience it for myself.
Pages: 537 | ASIN: B072J3M6QV
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