As I write this, the door propped open, birds singing in spring rain, I am filled with joy and excitement to announce that my debut middle-grade novel – an Australian historical fiction time-slip adventure, set at Mt Buffalo, inspired by and featuring Guide Alice Manfield – will be published by Riveted Press/Yellow Brick Books, in 2023! It tells the tale of 13-year-old Clara Wilde, as she faces her grief, and works through insecurities and anxiety about her life and herself, while a mountain and a maiden call her towards courage. I can’t wait to share Clara and Alice’s story with you, and to bring the incredible Mt Buffalo National Park and The Chalet, alive.
The story was inspired by the life of Alice Manfield, commonly known as Guide Alice, who was a mountain guide, amateur naturalist, chalet owner, photographer, and early Australian feminist figure. Her pioneering work at Mount Buffalo from the 1890’s to the 1930’s led to her becoming a tourist attraction and helped lead to the establishment of the Mount Buffalo National Park. Alice began guiding when she was only 12 years old. She published Australia’s first book with pictures of the Superb Lyrebird and was known as a conservationist.
Sign up to my newsletter for updates about release dates, where to get your copy, book launch events and other special things. My dream is to have a launch on the verandah of the Mt Buffalo Chalet! I am on a road trip there in early October and will be touring the Chalet and immersing myself in the environment.
I would like to thank Arts South Australia, for supporting this work with a Richard Llewellyn Deaf and Disability Grant. I am grateful to my wonderful agent, Debbie Golvan, who always supports and guides me, and champions my work. I am excited to be working with Rowena Beresford, Commissioning Editor and Managing Director of Yellow Brick Books/Riveted Press, to bring this story to the world.
A huge thank you to all of the people who shared memories of their adventures at Mt Buffalo and the Chalet over the decades. To Alice’s grandaughter, who shared stories and gave feedback about the manuscript, and preserved Alice’s wonderful photographs by donating them to the State Library Victoria, for everyone to enjoy. To fellow author Andrea Rowe who shared special stories of her time living at Mt Buffalo and gave invaluable feedback on the early draft.
To my mum, who spends such careful time editing and beta reading my works, and to both her and my dad, for growing a love of books and reading inside of me from birth. And to my husband and sons, who allow me to spend many hours talking about my works in progress, telling them my ideas, asking their thoughts about plot and character, burying myself in my office, lost in other worlds, dealing with all of the ups and downs, and for being my cheer squad – I love you all.
And finally, thank you to Guide Alice Manfield, who inspires me every day, who fell in love with Mt Buffalo as a girl and who shared this special place with the world, as she hiked The Mount, capturing and preserving the beauty of this Island in the Sky, through her incredible photograpy, conservation work and advocacy, and who showed us all how women and girls can boldly lead the way.
I am truly walking on the peaks of mountains today,