Q. What inspired you to write this book?
I’ve had an interest in the Australian Light Horse for some time. Mainly through my friendship and association with author/historian Ian Jones. Ian wrote and produced the 1987 film The Lighthorsemen and penned the book A Thousand Miles of Battles which I designed for him together with other titles.
The order that the horses were not to return with the men at the end of WWI always angered and upset me. How the men felt leaving the horse that they had rode into battle many times was hard to imagine. But imagine I did and came to the conclusion that I would rather stay with my horse. Hence the seed of the story.
Q. Summarize your book in one to three sentences.
Before Aboriginal trooper Lewis Dunbar can ride off into the Sinai Desert on his horse Spade, it is stolen by A’isha, a mute Bedouin girl. The chase to catch up and the ongoing competition for ownership of the horse leads to a series of dangerous episodes involving the spirits of the deserts, a displaced Bedouin family and the renegade remnants of the war. All come together in the dramatic discovery of those hidden spirits we carry within.
Q. What is the overall theme of the book?
The main characters are both nomads. The aboriginal trooper Dunbar and the Bedouin girl A’isha, both have spiritual beliefs, though from different cultures. Spade, the horse, is their only means of travel through the desert and must be kept safe from mounting threats.
Q. Where does this book take place?
The Sinai Desert in Egypt at the end of the first world war.
Q. Who are the main characters and why are they important to the story?
Lewis Dunbar was raised on an outback Queensland cattle station. Half Aboriginal from his mother and half Scottish from the station owner. Spade was born and reared by Lewis before heading off to war together.
A’isha is a mute Bedouin girl who mistakenly thinks she was a prisoner of the Australians before her escape on Spade.
The idea of the main characters being both nomadic and deep in spiritual cultures lends itself to the Djinn forces believed to exist in the Sinai desert and the Aboriginal Dreamtime and Songline beliefs.
Q. Why do you think this book will appeal to readers?
Having a horse as a main character will appeal to female young adult readers, whereas the three-way relationship, the dangers faced and supernatural elements will appeal to both male and female.
Q. How is your book relevant in today’s society?
Tolerance of differing cultures and beliefs are as important today as they were in 1919. Adding the disability of a mute girl and her frustrations and challenges will equally be understood today.
Q. What makes your book different from other books like it?
The setting of the story for one thing. The characters and their see-saw relationship is another. The Djinn, Genie, spirit element is a vehicle to the end as opposed to the usual overpowering protagonist.
Q. What do you want readers to take away from your writing?
A better understanding of tolerance and a satisfied journey.
Q. What other books have you written?
SECRETSINCITY under my pen name Deray Ogden. I also wrote THE FORGOTTEN SPIRIT, an original screenplay for a twenty-minute short feature film way back in the 70s.
I have two other stories in the works.