More than any other of my books, Flight to Coorah Creek is directly inspired by people I have met.
Many, many years ago – while working as a journalist in Queensland, I met a nursing nun who worked in a specialist children’s hospital unit. Every day she faces the heart-breaking sight of young children seriously ill – or dying. Despite this she remained serene and calm. She never lost her faith in her God – or in people.
I don’t remember her name. Or her face; I have a picture in my mind of a small, elderly woman, but after so many years, I don’t know how real that image is.
I always wanted to write a character with that woman’s strength and serenity, I just needed a story to put her in.
A few years later a met a young woman who flew a private jet for a rich and powerful businessman. They were also a couple and she lived in a flat he owned in central Sydney. She was quite beautiful. I never met him. Although we didn’t become friends, I often wondered what would happen to her if her relationship with her boss/lover soured. She would have nothing left – no home, no job, no lover.
I don’t know if that ever happened – and I certainly do not want to suggest that man was in way linked to drug trafficking… That all slowly emerged from the back of my mind.
The final part of the puzzle was again many years later. While on holiday in Central Australia, I was taken ill – and I was flown to Mt Isa hospital by the Royal Flying Doctor Service – an amazing free air ambulance service that daily saves lives in the outback, where the nearest doctor may be hundreds of miles away.
The care I was given on that flight was wonderful.
Somehow, years later, these very different people seemed to come together in mind. And suddenly I had a story that I thought – that I hope – is worthy of each of them.