It’s my pleasure to introduce my new novel, Next of Kin, which has just been published by the recently formed Rhiza Press.
It’s always exciting to get to the end of project and see something that was once just an idea, a dream or goal, completed. A finished novel, printed and published, is an especially satisfying project because it has a life of its own; the potential to challenge, inspire, educate and entertain others for a very long time. I feel very privileged and grateful to be able to participate in such a project. It’s been my pleasure to do so now with nine novels and I hope I can go on writing for many years.
Next of Kin has taken me on a journey through the lives of some of my ancestors, as have all my novels, so I owe a debt of gratitude to those earlier Australians who survived the challenges of making a new life in a land on the other side of their world, and raised their children to continue the quest to make Australia what it is today. Through each life I have learned so much as I’ve explored the environment in which they lived, the political scene at the time, the cultural developments, the historical events. It’s been a great educational journey for me, as well as an affirmation that human beings can and do survive the most dreadful of circumstances and are capable of overcoming amazing challenges.
While I know very little about the spiritual lives of my ancestors, their stories have given me a window through which to reflect on the ways that God can be involved in the human journey. It’s not hard to see the need for a God who directs, comforts, enables, rescues and leads, when you consider the challenges faced by people of any generation and culture. I can only hope that at least some of my ancestors really experienced the faith, hope and love which I have invested in their stories.
With my earlier novels I had the opportunity to learn much about the first white Australians, particularly convicts who arrived here in the late 1700s, and the first-born Australians who were their children, often known as ‘currency’ kids. With Next of Kin, I was led into a whole new area of learning, as I explored the coming of migrants to Australia in the mid to late 1800s, specifically those who came from Germany to work in the towns of the Northern Rivers area of New South Wales, and were often called 'continentals'. The experience of families attempting to assimilate into a culture with a different language, different traditions and backgrounds, is an ongoing challenge for all of us in Australia. It is a battle for many already here and definitely for those arriving. It was fascinating for me to delve into how this might have been experienced over 150 years ago.
I suppose when all is said and done, it is true that nothing is new under the sun, that human beings have difficulty accepting and cherishing what is different or unfamiliar, that we are more prone to prejudice and discrimination that we’d like to think, and that we are all on a journey of becoming more human in the best sense of the word; more Christ-like and open to growing through all the challenges we face in relating to others.
I hope Next of Kin takes some readers on this journey, that it inspires or challenges people to be more tolerant, accepting and loving, regardless of creed, colour, socio-economic status or sex. I’d like to believe that as Christians we can honestly say with Paul that … “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galations 3:28). In the case of Next of Kin it might have been said, “There is neither English nor German, black nor white, male nor female, rich nor poor, for you are all equal in Australia.”
Carol writes historical novels based on her family ancestry in Australia and include the Turning the Tide series; Mary’s Guardian, Charlotte’s Angel, Tangled Secrets and Truly Free. Her earlier novels Suzannah’s Gold and Rebecca’s Dream have been re-released by EBP. You can see more about Carol and her novels on her website or her FB author page.