“G’day from Australia! Hello to Shey and the Dudes.
How grateful I am to visit once again my favourite hamsters!
I hope everyone reading this is staying well and safe. It’s been a terrible year. I watch the news from around the world, and I know many of you are suffering.
Here in Australia, we have been very fortunate and have mostly avoided the worst of the pandemic. We are a big country, big in square miles/kilometres. We are an island, and we share our borders with no other country. Our population is around 25 million, most of whom reside in seven major cities. We have seven States, (Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, and Western Australia), and two Territories – Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory.
Outside of the cities, we have thousands of little country towns. Some are small hamlets or villages. Some, especially in the Outback, are just a pub. If you’re lucky they also sell fuel for your car.
I love the country towns. I love the people, the humour, and the culture of small towns.
During my brief lockdown period, I began writing some stories about life in small country towns. There’s no mention of Covid-19 –
I mean, why write about it when it’s more fun to escape inside a story and be uplifted by characters who manage to live their humble lives through thick and thin, in sickness and health, etc, etc.
After writing the first book, out popped a second. Yes, you guessed it, and a third.
My new series about life in a small Queensland town is called Thompson’s Ridge Series.
There are so far five novellas in the series – glimpses of life, happy times, sad times, tough times, and boom times. I think my characters are universal, in as much as even though they are fair dinkum Aussies, small towns in any country have similar big-hearted, quirky residents whose stories are similar.
So, the first book in the series starts a few weeks before Christmas. In Australia, Christmas is a big deal no matter what religious beliefs you have or don’t have. We don’t tend to celebrate Thanksgiving. Christmas occurs in high summer, and Chrissy, as we call it, is often a gathering of family and friends outdoors or at the beach with lots of happiness, love, and warm feelings.
But in every country, the Holiday Season can be tough for people who are alone, lonely, and just plain sad.
Book number 1 is called ‘The Christmas Orphans’ Club’.
No prize for guessing what it’s about.
It’s a slice of Aussie life, and introduces the reader to an eclectic mix of characters who will travel through subsequent books in the series. They are short novellas, not hard to read, but hopefully hard to put down.
Here’s the blurb for The Christmas Orphans’ Club.
The festive season is coming, and so is the social event of the year for a group of residents in the country town of Thompson’s Ridge – a Christmas Day lunch for those without family. But while some members of The Christmas Orphans’ Club regard it with excitement and joy, others feel trepidation and uncertainty.
For reluctant bachelor Bob Wilson, owner of the local school bus, the end of the academic year sees him reflect on the slow demise of the timber town he grew up in – now a shadow of its thriving past.
Former primary school principal Maggie Hardcastle, regarded highly by the locals, rues the contraction of her old domain to a single teacher, one classroom school, while current teacher-principal Jamie Zammit worries the school will close completely if enrolments continue to fall. Jamie is also concerned for his star student, Becky Carmody, whose mother has become disturbingly reclusive since her husband’s death.
Joely Davidson, who hosts the Orphans’ lunch at her cafe, invites Kirsty McJames and Ruby Weston, to the event. Christmas to divorced Kirsty means separation from her beloved twin boys as their father, unconcerned the rest of the year, claims holiday custody rights to take the boys away.
Louise Smith is a newcomer to Thompson’s Ridge recovering from the shattering loss of her high-flying career in the city. Seen as standoffish by the locals, she is taken aback when Christmas Orphans’ Club founder Fran Hobart enlists her to take over running the event. It’s an opportunity for Louise to use her old skills, but can she take the baton and run with it?
Another resident seeking to revive old talents is retired stage actor Charles Davenport. His drunken behaviour at last years Orphans’ Club lunch appalled no one more than him. He’s cleaned up his act in the intervening year, but can he play the most difficult role of his career – his real self – and will Maggie Hardcastle forgive him for what he did?
Come Christmas Day, will the hopes and fears of The Christmas Orphans’ Club come to pass or fade away?
The Christmas Orphans’ Club
By Noelle Clark
Book 1 in the Thompson’s Ridge Series
Available now for Pre-Order .99 cents US$ until December 1st, then $1.99 US$
Noelle Clark www.noelleclark.net
Noelle Clark is an Australian author of Australian fiction, contemporary romance novels, and historical fiction.
Her books feature characters who deal with love and loss; and who experience the often difficult facets of life, such as forgiveness and redemption.
Noelle lives in a secluded cottage in sunny Queensland, Australia, surrounded by lush rainforest.
She has two grown up children and four grandchildren.
When Noelle’s not writing and travelling, she enjoys growing her own organic vegetables and herbs, photography, bushwalking, playing guitar, reading and cooking.
Noelle is a proud member of Australian Rural Fiction; Queensland Writers Centre; Bathing Beauties Writing Group; YON Beyond Writing Group; Romance Writers of Australia; and Australian Romance Readers Association. She is currently published independently by Stop Press Publishing.
Noelle is an author with the acclaimed Bindarra Creek Romance group.
Noelle’s books have been Finalists in several literary awards, including the Chatelaine Awards, and the ARRA Awards.