Sunday, 16 November 2008

PATERNITY - An Original Australian Novel Part 1

Last week I posted a taste of my novel Paternity and the bloggy mates wanted more. Today I begin at the beginning with Part One and will continue the story with regular episodes posted here.
Enjoy - and please repay the favour with feedback via a comment. That's the only royalty I require! (Unless you're a publisher and then we can talk.)


© June Saville 2008

They waited with some sort of bizarre discipline, although straining at the leash.

The vicious wind set leaves scuttling on the ground, and branches arching against the bright night sky. The full moon saw it all, and intensified the shadows at the bases of the trees. She felt freezing then, and fear took over from the anger. What did they intend with her?

Soon two white lights shattered the gloom, appearing first at the top of the track. They followed its bends and twists until they lit the clearing and then the target directly … blinding her.

The car door slammed once.


By age 22 Violet Selene Holmes, yoga fanatic, had saluted the sun in a dozen different countries. She draped her long limbs on the sand at Goa as the saffron sun swelled above the Arabian Sea, and, less comfortably, on mountainsides in the Andes, the Himalayas, and among the Kurdish sheep on the slopes of Mount Ararat.

Her mother named her after a flower, and an old fashioned one, although Violet was anything but a delicate petal. Given the choice between a rough pebble-strewn path and a smooth one, she’d take the pebbles.

Her second name was borrowed from the moon goddess of Greek mythology. This was Selene's favourite, and she used it throughout her life.

Selene paid for her fares from a cache she began collecting at age seven, and she travelled alone. But she knew how to party.

She had been roaming for three years, luxuriating in the sights and sounds and smells of other lands, when her thoughts turned homewards. Selene found herself longing for the toss and tumble of a Sydney surf, the smell of eucalyptus leaves burning in a barbecue fire, for streets clogged with Australians — whatever their hue, whatever their accent.

So the young woman with the wheat field hair booked a flight home and did those things which had set her aching while on foreign shores. She steeped herself in old friends and familiar places, but a year or so later she felt again the old need to move along. This time she would explore the vast spaces of her own land ...


The thin strip of gibbers and gravel which had passed for a road for the last two hundred kilometres became wider now and Selene’s hands relaxed on the smooth vinyl of the steering wheel. She could even see signs of desultory attention from a grader. The car picked up speed, rattling by occasional clumps of ancient pine trees, branches gnarled and foliage bedraggled, and spewed dust high into the air. The dust changed colour to red, and eddied and swirled, to settle on the stumps and drunken fence posts on either side.

The town must not be far away.

She took the bend too fast, and had to wrench the wheel to avoid a row of mail boxes on posts set too close to the road. They stood there like abandoned skeletons with no real connection to humanity. Where were the people who got letters in this godforsaken place?

Everything she saw was evidence that people had been there — not that they were there now. A tractor ravaged of moving parts, and rusted. A wattle and daub hut, collapsed upon itself. A lonely sentinel chimney, fireplace attached. Willy nilly tangles of barbed wire, battered baked- bean tins and scattered shards of lager bottles.

The car groaned towards an outcrop of round red rocks lying topsy turvy on a sudden rise. It heaved up the hill, gasped as it came to the top, and died.

In the distance, a small town lay all but concealed on the flat below, as though resisting prying eyes …

Selene stormed out of the driver’s seat and tugged open the bonnet. Her tall frame doubled itself as the fair head bent towards the engine, seeking reasons. There didn’t seem to be any. Finally, she locked the car. Her boots clomped rhythmically, exciting the red dust as she made her way down the slope.


The sun’s glare ricocheted from the galvanised iron walls of a shed dimly labelled War Memorial Hall, and bounced off the road to hit the figure of a soldier dressed in World War 1 uniform, ramrod straight as the gun he held aloft. The cenotaph warrior was the token human being in the place, for the single street was hushed, and empty apart from a clutch of cars shimmering in the relentless light at the far end.

This town was the product of a time tunnel. Small windows of a shop front winked at her, sharing Selene’s delight at its wares. Rolls of cloth, scissors, umbrellas, packets of needles, children’s clothing dangling raggle taggle on wire hangers, and shoes. A battered and cracked mannequin stood proud of her daisy-showered cotton dress, and rubber knee boots. There was a sign on the wall: Closed for lunch.

Next door two small wooden houses leaned against each other, also in siesta.

However, the milk bar was open. The long fake marble counter was coloured with rows of sweet jars, bottles of ice cream soda flavours, stacks of plates and containers of cutlery, all reflected in the long mirror engraved with a likeness of the Parthenon, and swirls of leaves and flowers. An endless row of cubicles with laminated tabletops set with salts and peppers, menus and sugar, lined the opposite wall.

A row of slowly moving ceiling fans hummed a greeting.

‘Afternoon,’ she smiled in relief. The chubby man behind the counter was tied at his middle by the strings of an apron, and his hesitant nod came framed by a moustache, curled and drooping on either side of stacked chins.

‘I’d die for one of your milkshakes — caramel malted?’

‘Just arrived in town?’ He craned his short neck towards the street.

‘My car threw it in at the top of the hill … Lucky to get so close.’

She sat in the corner of one of the cubicles fondling the coolness of the glass, which was thick and squat. The tumbler came empty, accompanied by a tall dented aluminium container filled with creamy milk and froth. You poured the drink into the glass yourself, and there was enough for two helpings. There were no straws, and as she drank, the froth tickled her nose.

The smell and sound of crackling bacon sidled its way from the kitchen, soon followed by the proprietor and a hamburger on a plate. A fly buzzed in his wake.

‘With the lot!’ He slid the plate across the slippery table towards her.
‘I’d have thought you’d be busy … it’s lunch time,’ she glanced around the empty cafe.

‘If you must know they generally wet their whistles at the pub first, and maybe eat later. Watcha here fer lady?’

‘Just wandering. Is there a mechanic?’

‘Gazza’ll probably fix you up. Ask at the bar.’


The clatter in the pub ceased immediately she walked in from the street. Schooners of beer stood ignored among the slops on the bar, and every eye leered in her direction.

'Ladies’ lounge is out the back,’ the barman whined.

Selene chose not to hear: ‘Is Gazza around? I’m after a mechanic.’

The little knots of drinkers, wearing broad hats to a man, stood mesmerised. Then, as Selene stood firm, the entire bar seemed to shift weight from one foot to another.

‘I’m after a mechanic!’

Finally, a mountain of a man extracted himself from the crowd, lumbered over, and breathed a stink of rotten eggs at her. Selene thrust her hand forward to force a greeting and immediately wished she hadn’t. The fellow had hair growing on his palm!

‘Got car problems eh?’ The drinker’s currant eyes flicked over Selene’s jeans where the denim stretched tightly across her thighs.

‘At the top of the hill. It died at the top of the hill … ’

‘Oright. I’ll see ya after I’ve had me lunch.’

Selene drifted into the street just as the last of the sun began to disappear behind a hill. A bed she’d organised at the pub bent in the middle like a hammock, and the shower rose down the hall was broken, but it was all clean enough. Her car was supposed to be on the road next morning.

She thought about the wild ride up the hill in the rusted old ute, engulfed in Gazza’s breath of bad eggs. The mechanic was a soaring suet pudding with cold eyes staring from slanted brows that met at the bridge of his nose. He was impervious to her attempts at conversation. However, once they reached her car he was a changed man: methodical and efficient. To each his own.

That peculiar disinfectant smell of pubs in Australia lingered even on the footpath outside. The barman was hosing down the tiled wall with its mural of brawny footballers advertising KB Lager. He seemed to ignore her, but directed the hose closer as she passed, splashing her shirt. She could feel the damp spreading on her skin.

Where were the women? She hadn’t even caught sight of the ladies’ lounge.

A couple of doors down there was a grocer’s shop with long scrubbed counter and bags of potatoes and onions near the till. Closed. A lone petrol pump outside cast a long weak
shadow …

It was good to be in the open air after the smoke and stench of the pub. A full moon sat majestic in the sky, occasionally blotted out by scudding clouds. Washing on a decrepit clothesline flapped with the strengthening breeze …

This place was so silent. The moon withdrew again, and the shadows disappeared as well, becoming one with the sombre darkness.

Close to the cenotaph at the far end of the street Selene paused before an aged building: Guardian Printers. The town had a newspaper! She pressed her nose to a window, opaque with grime. It was now too dark to see anything.

An engine roared somewhere. The moon came out from behind the clouds. She strolled on towards the hall at the edge of town, and then crossed the road. The engine was still roaring. Some hoon trying out his V8. The engine screamed repeatedly, but the car remained hidden.

An abrupt howl and a shriek of tyres, and Selene, startled, stared down the silver road towards the pub. A red Holden screeched into view and was thundering toward her.

The three faces in the front seat of the car gleamed white with the return of the moon. They sneered at her: evil ghosts.

The car propped.

‘Ya fuckin’ cunt. Git in!’

Selene’s body became a spring. She leapt to the side and was running. Her legs were pistons. On foot now, the men clamoured after her, increasingly near and shouting obscenities. The buildings, monsters on either side of the street, mocked her plight.

What did you think of Part 1? Have you seen a town like this? What will happen next? Have a guess and leave your idea in a comment ...

The foregoing is excerpted from Paternity by June Saville. All rights reserved. No part of this novel may be used or reproduced without written permission from the author.

Go to Episode Two


  1. Wow, wow, wow. There is so much about this June that sprung out at me. Now where do I start...

    First, I love the idea that you are going to post Paternity in serial form. Second, a lot of it resonates with me because I have travelled a lot and after being away for some years I craved the very same things as Violet. Even though I am not really a beachy person I so wanted to be near the beach. Third, it was like you were describing country towns that I know in north west NSW - and shall remain nameless. We always had hoons driving up and down the main street. Your description of the pubs and their smell just took me back to their childhood. I remember the days when the men were inside drinking and the wives and children outside with their lemonade (gosh we have come a long way really even though we don't thinks so sometimes). Oh I could go on and on. I love your writing style.

    And as for what happens to Violet, mmmmm, the mechanic saves her? Who knows but I will be back to find out!! Bravo!!

  2. You're not old enough for all of those memories Lilly!!! Are you ???
    The six o'clock swill et al?
    Anyway I am thrilled that the story is so resonating for you. That's just what I want of course.
    Does the mechanic save her? As they used to say on the old radio serials - listen (log in) again for the next exciting episode ...
    It'll be interesting to see what other people guess.

  3. Hi June!
    First of all, I love the descriptions you weave into the story. You've got a deft hand for those adjectives and describing the feel of the place.

    Unfortunately, they could also be the downfall. I felt that they were dragging the plot somewhat and there's too much exposition. A lot could be deleted and tightened to make the plot move forward. Show don't tell and for me as a reader, it picked up only when there was some active voice going on when she was looking for the mechanic. My eyes especially perked up when I read the vulgar, "‘Ya fuckin’ cunt. Git in!'. I think you did a good job with giving that cliffhanger. I'd like to know what'll happen to the main character and more character depth revelation on the mechanic. My writing mentor also scolded me for too much overwriting as well. every word should be measured on how we move the plot forward to its inevitable end.

    I hope this has been constructive. :)

  4. Kate again
    Your comment is certainly constructive and I'll be keeping your words well in mind as I proceed with final polishing of the story ...

  5. OMG- You little dickens, June! You know right where to stop, don’t you? You leaves us running down street screaming at the top of our lungs right along with Selena!

    Really excellent! I’m hooked. Look forward to next part. And exactly when will that be? How about 5 minutes from now?

  6. Good Vikki. I can see you sitting right on the edge of that scarlet seating impliment of yours. I intend leaving you hanging there until about Wednesday Ooz time - so take care.
    You can see that my heart has a hard core.

  7. Hey June! Thanks for the double comment. :) Perhaps you should slash the entry and post shorter bursts because there's so many blogs out there now and bloggers do like to skim. Although there have been blogging gods like Steve Pavlina who's famous for his 5,000 words posts so that in the end it really all depends on you. Personally I'm leaning towards a slightly shorter version of your original post of this story.

    Sure! I'd really like to be part of your journey as we move along with your novel.

  8. Hi Kate
    You can see my dilemma. I'm afraid I've prepared a post that will come out tomororow, and it will be LONGER than the original!
    I'm getting reactions from people that they really want to move on quickly as they can't wait for the next happening.
    I'll go with that at the moment anyway.
    So - watch Wednesday for the next exciting episode.
    Just what happened in that strange Australian outback town?

  9. Hi June, Loved the first episode and like everyone else waiting on the next one. Great description of the mechanic, Gazza. I could picture that soaring suet pudding and smell his breath. YUK. I am guessing they make her get in the car and gang rape her?? There are many small towns in Kentucky where I would hesitate to go out at night for this very reason.

  10. No comment Judy - tomorrow's episode will provide a big part of the answer. I promise. See you there!

  11. I love it already! Very different from stuff here in the states and certainly from mine, but that's what makes it fascinating. Thanks for all your encouragement. I've got to move on to Part 2, later!

  12. Thanks Sylvia - it's a big task when you start seven episodes behind!
    Good luck with your novel!

  13. Hi June,
    I like the way you introduced your characters, how you described the settings, and the way you added the action scenes. Your technique allowed me to really get into your story. I was able to see, feel, taste, and smell everything that you were trying to impart with your readers.

    As I was reading this, I was able to visualize everything so vividly. I was seeing the small towns that look like that here in the U.S. Excellent, June. I enjoyed it very much.

    I shall mosey on to the next post. I have the benifit of being a late comer in that I don't have to wait for the next posting!


  14. HI TASHA - you're right you don't need to wait for the next ...
    Some of my readers say they are sitting on the edge of their chairs to see what happens, and others that I like to keep them waiting. In a way I do because it's tension building to finish a piece with a crisis, and sometimes waiting builds that?
    I'm pleased when another writer connects to my work and I really appreciate your comments. Maybe you will give me further feedback as you wander along? I'd love anything that's meant to be constructive!

  15. TASHA
    The main reason of course that there is a space between episodes is that I need to have a life as well!

  16. Hi June
    Just started the first episode love it so far can just see the egg breath mechanic gotta read the next one now
    Bye Yvonne

    Are you my friend from Cooly? I can't tell with this comment system. but if it is, I'll see you tomorrow and compare notes.
    I reckon it might be. But if not that's fine too.

  18. HI June,
    so far i been reading only the other blog.
    Now am here, hooked and going to finish the entire novel, then i will get back to you.

  19. MAMPI
    I'm so pleased you have discovered Journeys. It is the blog which is close to my heart. I hope you enjoy Pip's story, and that you will dip into some of the other stories and let me know how you feel about them too ...

  20. Hi June

    I've read the first chapter and will continue to read through to the finish - it's what I do.

    The bad part for you is no comments until I review it as a whole. I thought it polite to let you know I have popped over and begun as promised, but nothing more from me till the end.

    Speak to you then.

  21. Hi BT - welcome!
    Good to open the door to find another Aussie writer. Enjoy Pip's yarn and I'll look forward to your feedback.

  22. Totally pulled me in, June. I'll keep reading.

    It's great that you're hooked with Pip's story Alex. I would sincerely appreciate any feedback you may have about the book, especially from such an accomplished writer!

    I see your mystery Chinatown Angel is on the shelves in New York from March. Good luck with it!

    I called in at the book website and I was hooked with your story as well. Kirk Atlas is one impressive character - once I met him I wanted to go on the ride, the bumpier the better. Who but a phoney would have 'gangsta' tattooed on his arm?


  24. You're off to a roaring start and I'm excited about finally getting some quiet time to read. You create great word pictures! The first thing I became aware of is that I'm entering an entirely new/different place -- I'm in Australia! and the images are vivid.

  25. Whacko SYLVIA I'm pleased Oz has come to life for you. That is so important to me as a writer.
    So you don't mind the fact that it's all different and that people are using colloquial language? There is a feeling abroad that Americans can't be bothered about spending the energy on other cultures. I'm sure that's unfair, but I'd love to hear from you on that as the US of A is a good market for publishing (except for the economic downturn of course).

  26. Man that was a trip!! There are similarities between the small towns that I am familiar with in America yet there are differences... I live in a place where people generally don't go to bars/pubs it's not a normal thing here. What is really neat to me is reading your accent in your writing. I really like this first installment!! I will come back to visit soon.

    I'm pleased you enjoyed your 'trip'! This story is set a few years ago and most parts of Australia are much more sophisticated these days, but there are still similarities ...
    I'm afraid that Australia does still depend on alcohol quite a lot and much social activity is centred around pubs and clubs - although again they are mostly pretty civilised.
    I am really interested to know that you enjoyed the Aussie venacular. I wonder whether this could be turn off for some, but my readers tell me it isn't.
    Enjoy ...

  28. Gee thanks for the thought you've given to your comment Kate - appreciate it.
    I suppose so much depends on the story you're telling and the genre of the work. This has turned into a 44,000 plus novel. (I suppose a mystery/quest as much as anything.) The bit I put on my blog this time is a mere 1,800.
    My lecturer (who had the benefit of seeing the whole)suggested I was doing fine (in the work entire)so far as speed in driving the plot was concerned.
    I really wanted to set the scene in this beginning and so background description was important to me here. Things will change later ...
    Another thing that has worried me was whether a novel would translate well to a blog.I mentioned that when I posted the poem. People are used to short sharp bursts and not concentrating for long on the net.
    I'd like you to give me your opinion on this and anything else that occurs to you as we move along ... Deal?

  29. Hi June,

    This is my third try to leave a comment so this one will be a trial. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the first posting of "Paternity."

    Jock Mackenzie
    Red Deer, Alberta

    P.S. It appears that this comment will succeed so here's a bit more. My friend, Keith Kline, who has the Hiawatha House blog, knew of my interest in writing so he suggested I check out 70 Plus and Still Kicking . . . which led me to your other site. I have enjoyed your vivid descriptions and look forward to this morning's coffee and another read.

  30. Sorry for the comment problem JOCK. It seems to have settled now.
    Thanks to Keith for sending you my way - and I'm pleased you think the trip was worth it.
    Keep in touch during your trip through Pip's story.


Thanks for leaving a comment. Its good to know who is having a peek! I will certainly send a comment in reply.

To move directly to all other stories. Go to INDEX at

Also, you may like to have a look at my other blog 70 Plus and Still Kicking.

Cheers June