This streetscape from Murtoa, in Victoria, inspired the setting for my novel, Seth.
Set in a the fictional place of Yalkaro, a remote rural Australian town on the edge of distinction, this novel has themes of the social disadvantage of homosexuality in communities still holding entrenched traditional values and judgements; of hardship, neglect and hidden abuse, tempered at times by kindness and understanding of the human condition. The unusual circumstances of his birth and his inability to speak make Seth Donaldson a target for abuse and bullying. Abandoned by his mother to his stepfather’s care his childhood is one of isolation, until he is befriended by the local newsagent, the owner of one of the few shops remaining open in this town of diminishing population, who sees beyond the limitations of the boy’s autism. With his step father’s death comes a change of fortune and a chain of tragic events that enshrouds the town in grief and suspicion. The increased ostracism that results makes him easy prey for a predatory sociopath, seeking revenge for imagined slights and his own social inadequacies, and Seth reverts to the submissive role of his childhood as a means of survival. When another of his tormentor’s victims is dumped in his cellar, presumed dead, Seth nurses her back to health and together they plot their longer term survival. A fierce electrical storm forms the backdrop for a collision between those intent on vengeance and those seeking to avoid further tragedy. Two further deaths bring about the final demise of the town and Seth finds a place for himself beyond the confines of the choices of others.