Reaching for the stars – writing Australian fantasy

Hunting for his sister in a foreign land, a disgraced mercenary must marry a young matriarch who is hiding the fateful legacy of her enchanted silveriron tattoo.

Skeleton outline of a gumleaf
Leaf skeleton in the bush

I recently finished the first draft of my current work in progress Binding the Strays, which sees the mercenary protagonist selling himself into a ‘binding’ (marriage) with a young pastoralist, who takes him away from his poverty-stricken country and introduces him to the flourishing matriarchy of her own country.

Being a fantasy story, there’s whispers of magic, and plenty of settings and characters inspired by Australia’s countryside and history. The twist on social hierarchy and arranged marriages has been a fun one to explore.

At the moment I’m close to finishing my first read through, to get a feel for areas that need more attention, then I’ll pick up the red pen and get stuck into the second draft. I tend to knock out my first drafts without much description of settings, so one of my first jobs is to add flesh to the skeleton.

What are you writing at the moment? What approach do you use to revise and edit your work?

I look forward to your thoughts and advice in the comments below.

Martindale Hall at Mintaro, South Australia

Built in 1879, Martindale Hall is located near Mintaro in South Australia. It featured in the famous Australian movie Picnic at Hanging Rock, and is now open as a museum.

It’s the inspiration for a homestead in my current work in progress, ‘Strays’, a fantasy fiction in which a young matriarch buys herself a foreign husband in order to save her pastoral property.

Writing inspiration – colours of Australia

Sandstone horse sculpture I’m currently working on a short story to submit to a speculative fiction anthology. My protagonist finds herself returning to her homeland, where the big skies fill her lungs and flows in her veins, and she is forced to face dark secrets she’d hoped to leave buried in the red dirt.

While looking for an outback photo to illustrate the image of my fantasy world, I came across this one I took of Horse by Jumber Jikiya, which sits in the sculpture symposium in the Living Desert at Broken Hill, New South Wales. Horse was apparently created as a tribute to rare Georgian horses slaughtered during Stalin’s rule. I realised this sobering history draws some parallels to aspects of my story.

The symposium consists of twelve sandstone sculptures, which change with the sun’s rise and fall in this amazing landscape. I’m always awestruck by the beauty and harshness of our natural world, and how it becomes its own character in my worldbuilding and writing.

Please leave a comment to let me know what you’re writing now – what inspires your writing and settings?