by Louise Forster
What better way to bring Aussie humour into a story than to take an Australian country guy who’s enjoying the summer heat, and set him a task that would take him to Canada in the dead of winter. Winters in Canada are brutal—it can get down to minus 20 degrees C.
In Finding Elizabeth, Jack’s friend Dave from their university days meets him at Calgary airport. Dave is a sports journalist and takes him to see a ballet. I would tell you more, but that would take a couple of chapters. Anyway, not only is Jack freezing his bits off, he’s also jetlagged. Thank goodness he brought an elderly friend’s hand-knitted colourful beanie with a pompom, and he’s not afraid to wear it. But once he sees the principle dancer, Katherine, he doesn’t care how cold he gets—he wants to see her again.
His search takes him to a small country town, Canmore, which is near Banff. I was intrigued about writing a hero not only planted in a foreign country, but also experiencing foreign weather. As I’ve experienced extreme, icy-cold conditions in Alaska, I know the difficulties of keeping warm. Best to laugh at yourself; you’ll quickly learn how to dress suitably, especially the feet! I wondered how my hero would manage. I drew from my experiences of dealing with sub-zero temperatures, when whipping winds across frozen lakes added that extra ‘I’m going to die’ feeling. People will find my tall, frosted-over body, icicles dripping off my nose, standing in the middle of the street, unable to move…
Understanding that Jack was on a mission and needed to get out of his warm, cosy digs, I had him freezing his arse off on a bench outside a store. Rather than get pissed off, he enjoyed the Christmas decorations and the bleak sun on the only exposed part of his body—his face. ‘He felt like groaning, so he did.’ And although he mutters about the fact that he could be frying on a hot Sydney beach, he takes it all in his stride and thinks warm thoughts. He feels warmer when he sees the ballet dancer stride towards him. Under difficult circumstances, Jack makes fun of himself, which Australians are good at…
Here’s an extract:
Katherine took a deep breath. Icy air hit her lungs and she coughed. Tears sprang in her eyes; she quickly blinked them away.
Jack peered at her. ‘Are you doing that so your eyeballs won’t freeze over?’ he asked. ‘Should I do that as well? I reckon there should be a weather warning.’ He squared his shoulders and mimicked an announcer’s voice. ‘Temperatures will freeze your eyeballs today. Also, men’s nostril hairs will freeze and snap off.’
After a lifetime in the bright lights and the big city as a prima ballerina, Katherine Bell has finally returned home to her small, snowy town where there’s a blizzard outside, a daredevil girlfriend in her house, and a persistent, sexy Australian called Jack Riley who needs to be kept at arm’s length.