Saturday, 22 June 2013

From my desk, 22/6/13

With winter upon us it would now be a great time to stay indoors and settle at the desk with a cuppa, ignoring the cold, wet day outside.  However, there are chores to be done and more writing has to be put aside accordingly, but only temporarily and for just a few hours.
I’ve recently returned from a trip to the Land of the Great White Cloud, New Zealand, visiting my family, and have come back refreshed and ready to go again.  And yes, it was cold and wet there, too.  But, it is also a beautiful country and worth the effort to go see it.
I am happy to report that my first novel, Interrupted Romance, has been well received, and energises me to continue with my second book, as yet unnamed.  But if all goes well it should be released before mid-August this year.  The proverbial “writers’ block” did hit me before my holiday, but I am back on schedule now and working towards chapters in the middle of my story.  Which, incidentally, is written around the times of 1815-1820, in old Parramatta, [known as the birthplace of the nation], when convict labour was available to private enterprise, and was, in reality, the making of the country’s wealth at that time.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Topsy's week that was



Hey, everybody… Excitement has reached fever pitch in our household with the release of both the eBook and the paperback versions of ‘Interrupted Romance’, my first novel.
Watching the figures pile into the promotional screen has been an eye-opener. It’s very encouraging to see that so many people are taking a copy of this first book of mine, and I hope to use that adrenalin to continue with the current story that is floating around between my head and my computer. 
I’ve been reading about the hospital system available to convicts during the period of 1811-1816, which is the timeframe of most of the next book. It’s astonishing to realise that for a time the hospital in Sydney was no more than a collection of tents. There were 4 men to a tent, sleeping on grass mattresses. One blanket to a tent – imagine that! So the strongest patient obviously got the blanket, and the rest went cold. Over many decades the hospital was altered, renovated, rebuilt, enlarged etc. and the medical and nursing staff were engaged often from the ranks of convicts, some qualified, some not. When reading the history of the hospital it struck me that it’s a wonder people survived at all, under what today would be called primitive conditions. Hygiene and sanitation were not all that impressive, and operations were the strap-me-down-and-cut-me type in many instances. The original nursing staff was apparently more often drunk than sober, and there were ‘odd’ goings-on in the nurses’ quarters upstairs – if you know what I mean! How things have changed… As time went on and fully qualified doctors and administrators took charge, the convict nurses were replaced with a more gentile type of woman who was given real medical training towards the end of the 19th century. 
The ‘dead’ house, or morgue, was moved away from the kitchen block to an area closer to the dissection room when new buildings were erected within the yard confines of the hospital grounds. I rather fancy that being a cook in that era would not have been very nice! 
Does anyone out there have any early Sydney hospital notes to add?