Boy Down Under (Post 60)
Boy Down Under (2004) was the first of two YA paranormal romances I wrote for a US line. The first one, A Bird, a Bloke and a Boyfriend (Post 34) used the classic Greek tale of Pygmalion and Galatea as its theme, gender-reversed as Sarah literally made herself a boyfriend. Boy Down Under uses another classic but less specific theme; the wonderful secret that can never be told... is it based on the Greek King Midas's barber? Not quite. Is it Cinderella who must not reveal her identity to the prince? Not quite. Is it King Priam's daughter Cassandra, fated to foresee the future but never be believed? No. Is it Cupid and Psyche, where the bride Psyche may not ever see her husband? Pandora's Box? Even Bluebeard? No, no, and no. Still there are aspects of them all.
As the blurb puts it:
Sun! Surf! Guys with great abs! That's what American Rowena Maven expects from her year in Australia. Reality is the Roach Hotel she's staying in, and the chewing gum on her shoes. That's until Patrick Carroll drops out of the sky. Suddenly, Ro's got a boyfriend. Sort of. He shows up when she least expects him, wherever she happens to be. He's magic. He walks on clouds but he's no angel, and what's with the lip-zip thing: She's got a boyfriend, but she can't tell the world -- or even her best friend Hallie? And on the day she does, he vanishes.
The main character, Rowena "Ro" Maven is American. That was a requirement of the publisher. They didn't object to an Australian setting, though, so I brought Ro and her lecturer mother, Dr Maven, out to Australia to sub for Dr Mold, who was unable to do the job. Ro had no wish to be moved out of her comfortable life, but the blurb-mentioned picture of the golden sands and hot surfers sort of made up for that. She and her best friend, Hallie, arranged to try some mind-reading-at-a-distance.
At the less than salubrious place where she and her mother stay, Ro meets an odd boy called Patrick Carroll, when he drops onto her balcony. Patrick is impossible to speak of, and Ro can't remember what he looks like when he's not present. Still, he has some kind of powers because he takes her to beautiful places, including a breathtaking mountain, a wilderness of wildflowers, a garden bursting with roses, a cloud walk and the Rockslides in far north Queensland. They always walk to these places, but Ro never remembers how they got there.
On the day Ro breaks her promise and Patrick's compulsion and speaks of him, he vanishes. Ro is crushed, but eventually she manages to find her lost boy. He does indeed have powers, but they are not the ones she believed in.
The original title for Boy Down Under was Predicting Patrick Carroll, but as often happens the publisher elected to change it. I was, and am, intrigued by the cover, which is a long way from the popular concept of a YA para romance. I don't know where the rocks are; possibly somewhere round the Olgas? Or maybe they're not Australian at all.
One other oddity of this book is that one reviewer mis-named Ro's mother as 'Doctor Mold'. I thought this odd, since Ro was given her correct surname of Maven. The error, though, was then perpetuated through several other reviews about the 'net, which made me wonder if those reviewers had ever read the book at all, or if they'd just cribbed from one another.
The final oddity was a bit disappointing for an author who enjoys eating. Before my author copies even arrived in Australia, this book was for sale on eBay for a few cents a copy. For a while there it was ubiquitous. Copies still show up rather frequently for sale in the second hand market.
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.
The books are not in any special order, but will be assigned approximate dates, and pictures, where they exist.