Wild whales, kamikaze kangaroos that try to kill her and strange stories about the Nannup Tiger slinking south for the winter…a normal day in the life of Belinda, a fictional student midwife at Albany Regional Hospital in Western Australia.
West Australian author Demelza Carlton's latest book, Water and Fire, tells Belinda's story amid the scenic Great Southern town of Albany.
“In a departure from my Ocean's Gift series and my Nightmares trilogy, the character of Belinda really fascinates me,” Demelza said. “She's a passionate nurse whose own baby was stillborn. Instead of seeking help for her sorrow, she throws herself into saving other women's babies from a similar fate.”
Originally a short story written for the Watty Awards, an international writers' competition in Canada, Demelza decided there was more to Water and Fire – and Belinda and Aidan, the main characters.
Drawing on her experience in the health sector, Demelza crafted a story set against the backdrop of Albany – including the whales, the local restaurants and the distillery. Braving seasickness in a heavy swell to capture photos of humpback whales in Albany waters, she researched the town thoroughly, using her photos and video in video trailers for the book.
“I think the food was the most fun, really. After spending most of the day on a boat, then hiking around Stony Hill, the Gap and the Natural Bridge lugging my camera gear, I decided to finish up with restaurant research. Trying to work out where Aidan would invite Belinda to dinner, I wandered into the White Star Hotel – while live local band Limerick was playing. Looking at my serve of hot shark fillets, I knew exactly where he'd take her.”
“The whisky was the easiest decision. With a local distillery, when the whisky connoisseur doctor opened a bottle, it had to be Limeburners. I only hope the staff at the Great Southern Distillery don't mind my use of artistic license – placing their head distiller in danger and turning their ethanol fire into a more traditional wood-burning one.”
This is Demelza's fourth book. Her previous titles include Ocean's Gift and Ocean's Infiltrator, part of the mermaid Ocean's Gift series, and Nightmares of Caitlin Lockyer, the first book in her thriller trilogy.