Is it nature or nurture that makes a good writer? That was a question in my mind when I spoke with Australian author, Darry Fraser whose latest novel, The Widow of Ballarat was released in November. This is Darry’s fourth published tome although she has been story telling almost since she fell out of the cradle. Her journey to being a published author has been a longish one.
Born in Melbourne, she left at nineteen to travel around Australia and found herself in Alice Springs, where she stayed for a long time. What followed was, as Darry tells it, “a round about journey to Kangaroo Island, then a return to Alice, then feeling the lure of the island, came back, where I am now happily domiciled, although I am quietly pondering apossible return to Victoria”.
Asked if she felt writing was part of her DNA, she said: “I’m sure it is”. “I remember as a very small child I was always telling stories and one of my earliest memories – I think I was about four – was kneeling on a kitchen stool bashing an old typewriter and writing stories”. She added, “I couldn’t spell, or even frame sentences, but in my head, I was writing a book.” Darry went on to say: “My two sisters and I were very lucky in having a mother and grandmother who read to us every night, which engendered a lifelong passion for books.”
As life moved on, Darry’s desire to write novels never abated, but a lack of confidence held her back from making that move to approach publishers, so her desire to write was tucked away in a little box somewhere. That is until she moved in to care for her ailing mother and realised that she needed something to occupy her mind, so she joined the Romance Writers Guild. It was through the Guild that she was given the opportunity to ‘pitch’ one of her stories that was picked up by Harlequin Press in 2015 which resulted in her first novel, ‘Daughter of the Murray’, followed by ‘Where the Murray River Runs’ and now ‘The Widow of Ballarat’. Darry has several others under her belt, mainly with a contemporary setting, however her love of and fascination with Australia’s history, sees her later tomes set in the nineteenth century. She has chosen to write historically as she has always been drawn to it, saying “When I was a kid, I loved the old westerns, the simplicity of goodies and baddies always appealed and the women of the 1800s were strong and had to be clever in order to survive “. Darry researches the era in order to have the correct vernacular and how people were bound by the society of the day.
Looking ahead to the future, Darry hopes to be financially independent through her writing to devote her days to doing what she loves. She said: “A publisher described one of my novels as a ‘rollicking good adventure’ – it doesn’t get better than that”.