From fantasy to historical fiction is quite a jump. Making it all up versus all that research and getting the facts right would not have been my first choice for future books. Then I fell across Emma Beach, a fellow Australian who had spent several years researching the tragedy of Elizabeth Scott, the first and youngest ever woman to be hanged in Melbourne, Australia, in 1863.

The Shanty Keeper’s Wife

Very few people have heard of Elizabeth Scott, hanged with her ex-pirate cook and an 18 year-old lodger for the murder of her drunken, abusive husband. That included me before I came across Emma Beach’s novel drafts on a peer review website. Emma’s family hails from the area where the murder happened – the chimney of the illegal grog shop (shanty) where it took place still stands. We became collaborators on the book: we’re still writing it and Emma is still digging up new and fascinating facts. And we’re on the hunt for a publisher! Visit to learn about Elizabeth.

Or listen to my interview with Jo Durrant of BBC Radio Gloucestershire.

The picture is a watercolour by ST Gill. Elizabeth’s first marital home, where she bore five children of whom only two lived, would have looked like this.


Another work-in-progress, all by myself this time. Keepers tells the story of Raine, a young woman whose family moves from the countryside to an Australian city post WW2 and must live temporarily on a migrant camp. When Cockney immigrants and childhood friends, Teddy and Alf, rescue Raine from an assault, life’s problems become even more complicated. Keepers will be released in spring 2020.