The call came from my kids’ school, the moment I stepped off the plane. “The camp is under water, they’re on their way back from Stradbroke Island. Can you pick your child up at five-thirty?’
“Well, no. I’m in Sydney.”
Did I consider, even for a moment, heading home to rescue my children from flood-ravaged south-east Queensland?
Hell, no. I was in Sydney. I had credit in the favour bank. Enough to get me through the next 48 hours – floods, school closures, and bad mother rep, notwithstanding.
I had places to go, people to see… Family, newly cloistered within the gothic sandstone arches of St John’s College at U.Syd… Appointments with the warm and wonderful Linsay Knight, Sarah Hazelton and Yae Morton, in at Random House Australia.
Later, at the Writers Festival, I met Linsay’s son Dominic Knight of TV’s The Chasers. He spoke of taking the mickey, and his debut novel Disco Boy, to a packed auditorium at the Sydney Dance Company.
I was at a table outside, on the water, in debut author’s heaven, shooting the breeze with Melina Marchetta, internationally acclaimed author of Looking for Alibrandi, Jellicoe Road and Finnikin of the Rock.
I passed on the forty-minute long queues into jam-packed sessions, in favour of two hours with Melina, talking books, writing and life. She introduced me to mega-selling author Morris Gleitzman (who will also be at Voices on the Coast in July) and her literary agent, Sophie Hamley from Cameron Creswell.
Before flying out, I brunched with children’s literature advocate Judith Ridge whose Misrule blog comes in at Number 18 in CopyWrite’s Top 50 Australian Writer Blogs. I’m thrilled – Judith is producing the Teachers Notes for Dust which will be down-loadable from the Random House Australia website in July.
Barely 48 hours after leaving the rising floods of Brisbane, I arrived home, excitement over. Water levels were dropping fast, but there were lit candles on the dining room table, and a beautiful boy, with a hug as big as his smile.
“Did you miss me?” I whispered later, into my daughter’s hair. She smelled of puppy. Everything smelled of puppy.
“Uh, not really.” She pulled away gently. “No offence Mum, but you weren’t gone for very long.”
I thought back to all that I’d done, experienced, felt and seen; all that water under the bridge.
“No. Next time you should go for longer.”
I kissed her again. That puppy smell had to go.
But she’s right. Next time, I will.