Down River (Post 53)
Down River (1980) was my fourth published book, following Her Kingdom for a Pony (Post 2), The Day the Cows Slept in and The Room Upstairs. I was invited to write this, via a letter which apparently travelled via Tanzania, was dropped on a road at some point, and run over, and then ended up in my PO box. I know, I know. You couldn't make that up. Anyway, I got the letter, which came from an editor who had read and enjoyed my first book. I should point out that during the 1970s, Australian publishers were expanding their lines, which was why this editor was trawling for authors. I submitted a storyline, wrote the book and some months later Down River was published.
As with many of my early books, it was vaguely based on fact. Three girls go camping on a river bank. They are Amber and Kerry Dale, who live on the property through which the river flows, and Rosemary Candy, who is Kerry's pen friend. Kerry's dog, Dogg, joins the party and provides the drama when he jumps out of the boat and is swept downstream.
My sister and I and our friends used to spend a lot of time rowing down (and up) our local river, and one day one of our dogs did indeed jump out of the boat and have to be rescued. The fictional version is much more dramatic though. Rosemary, the visitor, has many of the interests I had as a child (that's her on the cover reading a book).
This is the first book of six in which Amber, Kerry and/or Rosemary appear. Although Kerry is the main character of Down River, Amber is the main character of three others, including Another Good Friend (Post 16). She also appears in All the Sea Between, The Suitcase, Winter Spring Garden and, under another name, in Peri. I always enjoyed writing about Amber, who was rather beautiful and dramatic with red hair, and who, being multi-talented, had a pretty high opinion of herself and didn't suffer fools lightly. Her sister Kerry was dark and stolid, which provided Amber with a foil and a contrast. Occasionally, I toy with bringing Amber out of mothballs for another story, but then, I have so many characters in my head the new ones tend to take precedence. Then I think, more soberly, about how old she'd be. She was twelve or thirteen in Down River 1980, and fifteen in the books of the early 1990s, so her timeline is a bit odd. She'd be somewhere in her forties by now, I think, and probably still over-achieving and bouncing about in the spotlight. Maybe I might write a short story about her, if I ever get time.
Just for fun, here she is in three other
appearances, drawn by three different illustrators!
About the Blog
Sally is Sally Odgers; author, manuscript assessor, editor, anthologist and reader. (Sally is me, by the way, and I am lots of other things too, but these are the relevant ones for now.)
The goal for 2017 is to write a post a day profiling the background behind one of my books; how it came to be written, what it's about, and any things of note that happened along the way. If you're an author, an aspiring author, a reader or just someone who enjoys windows into worlds, you might find this fun. This preamble will be pasted to the top of each post, so feel free to skip it in future.