Michelle Morgan - Sunday, April 09, 2017

It's been an amazing week with book launches of FLYING THROUGH CLOUDS in Bowral (Southern Highlands), Canberra and at Gerringong (South Coast).


It was heart-warming to be surrounded by family and friends at the Bowral launch of Flying through Clouds at Bowral Art Gallery on Saturday April 1. Marie Fitzpatrick from The Bookshop Bowral was the MC, Maryanne Williams launched the book then I gave a talk about the book and did a reading. The catering was mostly a family affair with friends pitching in to help as well. Thanks to all for making the Bowral Launch such a special occasion.

The Canberra Launch on Wednesday 5 April at Paperchain Bookstore in Manuka may have been a smaller crowd but they were a keenly interested audience, asking lots of questions after my talk. Canberra features in a couple of chapters of Flying through Clouds, and I've been a frequent visitor to this beautiful city over the past 20 years, so it was a special event.

The South Coast launch of Flying through Clouds was a few days later on Saturday April 8 at the amazing Gerringong Museum. An exhibition of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith's landing of Southern Cross on Seven Mile Beach, which I first saw at the museum four years ago, was one of my inspirations for writing the book. Seven chapters of the book are set on the South Coast at the time of Smithy's landing in January 1933. Thanks to Helen, Matt, Bobbie and the Gerringong & District Historical Society for hosting the event, and to the enthusiastic audience, some of whom have relatives who were there on Seven Mile Beach when Southern Cross landed and took off the following morning on the first commercial flight to New Zealand.

I look forward to all my upcoming events on the Flying through Clouds Book Tour, with events to come in Sydney, Nowra, Ulladulla, Muswellbrook, Quirindi, Armidale, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Lismore, Grafton, Port Macquarie and Taree.

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Inspired by history

Michelle Morgan - Wednesday, January 11, 2017

In January 2013, I wandered into the quaint Gerringong Historical Society Museum on the South Coast of New South Wales to see their special exhibition. It was 8o years since Sir Charles Kingsford Smith (aka Smithy) landed Southern Cross on nearby Seven Mile Beach at Gerroa, before taking off again early the following morning, 11 January 1933, on the first commercial flight to New Zealand.

I'd been toying with the idea of somehow including this amazing historical event into the new novel I was writing. As I wandered around the exhibition, inspecting each old photo and artefact, reading every newspaper and magazine, I became more and more excited. A couple of hours later, I walked out of the museum and headed straight to Seven Mile Beach.

After parking my car on the side of the road, I headed along one of the sandy tracks to the beach. I walked slowly, taking in every sight, sound, smell, taste and texture in the surrounding bush. I ran over the sand dunes to the beach, just as I'd imagined my main character would. I was channelling the teenage boy deep inside who I could picture there on the beach when Southern Cross landed and took off  in 1933.

That historic event was the hook I needed to develop an important part of my main character's story. Over the following months, I finished the first draft of Flying through Clouds. It has taken me nearly four years to edit and reshape that raw manuscript into a novel that will be published in April 2017. I went back to the museum recently to thank them and to once again be mesmerised by their modest and unpretentious exhibition.

I am sincerely grateful to the Gerringong Historical Society Museum for bringing to life what I had read about in books and online resources. But I am most indebted to pioneering aviators like Sir Charles Kingsford Smith who flew such basic planes with canvas bodies and timber wings across oceans and continents. If it wasn't for their courage, tenacity and adventurous spirit, the airline industry wouldn't have developed at the rate it did. Many of the early aviators lost their lives, including Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, who disappeared in his plane, Lady Southern Cross, off the coast of Burma in 1935.

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