Joining me on Read Round Oz is author, Annie Seaton. Although a prolific author in various genres, Kakadu Sunset is her first contemporary single-title novel with Australian publishing house, Pan Macmillan.
Having such fond memories of ‘The Top End’ on my first camping trip around the country (a while ago now) I was excited to read this one. You will find my review after the Q&A.
Let’s talk camping and Kakadu Sunset with Annie Seaton.
Where were you when you decided Kakadu would be the setting for a novel?
In 2013 we toured the Northern Territory and we visited many places and camped beneath the stars in our trusty camper trailer. Darwin, Dundee Beach, Daly Waters, Katherine and each of the settings we visited were beautiful and memorable. We spent the last week setting up a camp at Jabiru in the north of Kakadu National Park. From there we toured many of the beautiful sites in Kakadu. The Park is World Heritage listed and is also culturally significant. The spirituality of some of the settings such as Ubirr Rock, and the rock paintings at the Nourlangie site and walk really impacted on me. However it was the breathtaking beauty of a sunset at Yellow Water that brought the story (and the title) together for me.
What is it about Kakadu that made you want to set a book there?
There are so many beautiful places in the national park and we have only explored a few of them. Places like Ubirr Rock, Yellow Water (which becomes the fictional Makowa Lodge in the story), Jim Jim Falls, Twin Falls, Sandy (Djarradjin )Billabong, Black Jungle Springs and Cahills Crossing all feature in the story. There are two reasons for setting the book there. I see it as a way of using words to enable people who have not been there to ‘know how beautiful it is and to give them the desire to see the wonderful places Australia has to offer.
Eg: Up at the top of the escarpment, a single, narrow ribbon of water trickled down the rock face to a large pool. The water was dark green, but crystal clear. Kane let his gaze wander around the huge expanse of pure white sand edging the large pool. Towering red cliffs rose majestically on three sides of the gorge.
I also want to raise awareness of valuing our land as mining exploration impacts on these pristine environments across Australia.
Did you have a pinch-me moment – a favourite spot or experience while in Kakadu researching this novel?
The grandeur of Jim Jim Falls after a quite arduous walk in across huge rocks has to be seen to be believed. Photographs do not do it justice: the silence, the awe-inspiring cliffs and the colour of the water is something I will never forget.
The pinch me moment was at Jim Jim falls when I heard that a tourist had broken his ankle walking in and had to be rescued by helicopter. The other moment was during my online research and read about a German back packer who was taken by a crocodile at Sandy Billabong in 2002. These events began to thread my story together
Tell us something funny that has happened during your travels.
My husband found it quite amusing that I was constantly pulling him away from the water’s edge everywhere we went in the Northern Territory. I developed a healthy respect (read ‘fear’) of crocodiles and he perhaps thought that I was a little bit too wary! When we reached Daly River and he watched the fishermen stay in their boats as they were loaded onto the boat trailers because of the monster crocodile that harassed fishermen at the river, he began to believe me!
Where to next – in your writing and in life? More travel? More exotic settings?
Daintree Sunrise, Book 2 of the Porter Sisters series which I researched in 2014 in the Daintree Rainforest is with my editor. In 2015 we travelled to Western Australia and I researched Kimberley Moonlight, book 3 which is set in the beautiful East Kimberleys.
In 2016 we are planning a trip to North Queensland. We will visit the Dinosaur Trail and fossick as we travel. There will be a future book set up there too.
After we return I am heading off to the UK and Europe for a short holiday! Thanks you for having me and I hope you all get to visit Kakadu one day!
My review – Kakadu Sunset
The sun might be setting in The Territory, but Kakadu Sunset is a new dawn for Annie Seaton who has previously been published in ebook.
It was a pleasure to be taken on a journey back to Kakadu – a place I lived and worked some thrity-five years ago. Annie Seaton’s story oozes authenticity, evoking many good memories of my own time spent in the region. In fact, I lived and worked at Cooinda (which is mentioned in the story) and had a croc encounter of my own. Yes, I lived to tell the tale!
There are some magical descriptions in this novel and Annie has some outstanding turn of phrase that I loved. For example:
“…lingering worries clung to her like sticky cobwebs” and “Ellie hovered on the quiet edge of her memories.”