Lee was born and grew up in Liverpool England where he married and fathered three sons. The family emigrated to Canada where they spent ten years, before moving to Australia in pursuit of Lee’s business career. After years in international management, Lee has swapped spreadsheets for manuscripts and is now writing full-time from his home in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia. Lee writes regularly for magazines and has a monthly blog on his author website. He is also the author of the Young Adult novel, Alexander Bottom & the Dreamweaver’s Daughter.
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This heart-wrenching tale is the sometimes harrowing, yet ultimately uplifting story of a child’s search for happiness and a woman’s test of faith.
Now living an idyllic life in the north of England, for almost sixty years, Katherine has hidden her past. But when an old letter is discovered, she is forced to relive her traumatic years under the Australian sun and explain who died and why she had to run.
Katherine’s journey begins in post-war England, where, having been abandoned by her father after her mother is killed in a London air raid, she is consigned to an austere life in Australia as a British child migrant. She finds no comfort in the care of Lachlan and Daisy Stuart on an isolated property beyond Broken Hill. There is little tenderness in the ten-year-old’s life until Aboriginal station hands offer their friendship. Life is hard in the unforgiving land, but Katherine’s spirit is strong. As the years pass and she blooms into young womanhood, the bond she shares with indigenous Australia grows beyond mere friendship, but love comes at a deadly price.
A story of hope, love, sacrifice and resilience.
Black Bones, Red Earth
Black Bones, Red Earth, is the harrowing, yet ultimately uplifting tale of a child’s search for happiness and a woman’s test of faith.
Book Excerpt or Article
There had been no respite from the dry the day I arrived at Cutaway Creek. One day rolled into the next with the same op-pressive heat, offering no promise of change, no chance that the day would bring the big wet to this strange and desperate land. The creek had shrunk to isolated pools of muddy brine, a dwindling lifeline for the cockatoos that had gathered in great numbers along the banks. They squawked, argued and com-plained, performed somersaults and hung upside down from the limbs of river gums, wings spread wide like restless albino bats. Perhaps, with their aerial contortions, they hoped to im-press the rain gods, or maybe they performed for me, a grand circus greeting for the new girl with the lily-white skin, as pale as their snowy feathers. A lazy monitor tasted the air with its flicking tongue and examined a leathery carcass of hide and bones. Blowflies buzzed and harassed the lizard, persistently irritating the creature, hoping perhaps that it would lead them to food. They swarmed over the parched carcass while the liz-ard looked on, but not even the blowies could find nourishment on the dried-out remains. I watched as the lizard moved slowly beyond the fence line, the blowflies following. This world was as foreign to me as were the mountains of the moon.
The wind pump stood idle, stark against the azure sky, looking for all the world like a lonely black flower. Someone should paint it yellow, I thought. Father Donahue had disappeared inside the house, leaving me to wait beside his dust-covered motorcar, a blanket of russet hues covering the once-shiny black metal. Silence. I scanned the vast landscape and wondered how something so big could look and sound so empty. I traced a heart in the dirt with my fingertip and thought of Archie. ‘I’ll find you!’ My brother’s last words, called across the train station as they dragged him kicking and screaming to a different destination, a different opportunity. Three years older than me, Archie had always been there to lead the way. I tried to follow, but I had no chance, and was plucked from the ground and bundled into my carriage by an irritated woman who slapped me so hard I could hear nothing in my right ear for several hours into the journey. ‘Ungrateful little bitch,’ said the woman with the pig eyes and the hard slap. I didn’t cry.
The Cutaway Creek homestead sat in the centre of the com-pound. With windows like eyes peering out beneath the low steel roof, it looked to me like a fat cat wearing a tin hat pulled snuggly over its ears. It smiled at me. Not a welcoming smile but a sly grin that said, don’t even think of running away, little girl. ‘Where would I run?’ I asked the cat with the hat. I looked out over the parched wasteland. Red soil, a foil for the tussocks of straw-coloured grass, stretched as far as the eye could see, all the way until it melted on the horizon. Where would I run?
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Linda Bennett Pennell
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