When Therese Creed decided to go on a trail-ride from Victoria to Queensland, the last thing she expected to find was love. But she did, and today Therese is married to the man of her dreams, having left the bustle of Sydney to help run a 17,000 acre cattle station in regional Queensland. It proved the perfect setting to find inspiration for her debut novel...
There was no set plan when Therese Creed sat down to write her first work of fiction. Whatever she'd experienced on the station that day often ended up on the page. 'When I wrote Redstone Station I was acting on a whim... and whenever a weird or novel thing happened, I wrote it down." Whether it was a fire to fight, a coal mining company taking over land for exploratory drilling, a calf stuck during labour, bogged cows in dams – it was all writing fodder for Therese as she wrote Redstone Station.
Despite writing in the dark to avoid attracting bugs to her computer screen, Therese felt enormously excited as her story unfolded. 'I just couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen next!" Therese's unconventional approach to writing has proven very successful, culminating in her novel of romance and drama, Redstone Station, which is about Alice Wilson, a strong young woman who needs all the determination she can muster to prove herself as a farmer. 'Alice [is] the personification of everything I'd like to be, as well as a combination of some incredible women I've met who live on the land."
Alice is happy to be returning home to Redstone Station after two years at Ag College. On her various placements at farms and stations during her time at college she's been shocked at the second-class treatment of women workers, whereas her grandfather, Sam, has always treated her as an equal. For his part, Sam is delighted to have his granddaughter back on board. Exceptionally hard-working, with great horsemanship, an instinctive understanding of animals and a natural aptitude for farming, Alice is determined to justify her grandfather's faith in her. But will her growing regard for one of the stockmen throw her – and the future of Redstone – off track?
One of nine children, Therese Creed grew up in Sydney. She worked as a primary school teacher for four years before taking a break to ride from Victoria to Queensland. During a 5 month pit-stop she met and fell in love with local farmer, Cedric Creed. After marrying Cedric, Therese became involved in the running of the family cattle station. Today she divides her time between helping on the station, bringing up four children and writing. She lives in Bajool, Queensland.
Allen and Unwin
Author: Therese Creed
Interview with Therese Creed
Question: How did your own life experiences help in writing Redstone Station?
Therese Creed: My transition from living in Sydney to living on a Queensland cattle property is what gave me much of the material for Redstone Station. Coming in as an outsider I am able to view the everyday events around me with the eyes of a storyteller, finding interest in events that a local would probably see as run of the mill. My two years of travel, riding along the Bicentennial National Trail also gave me an abundance of ideas to work with, not only the experiences along the way, but also the many and varied characters that I encountered that I later used as inspiration for my characters in Redstone Station. Being a city girl that always longed to go bush has given me the ability to write stories for those still stuck in the city who would also love to head to the country, but can't, and must resort to doing it vicariously by reading rural fiction.
Question: Have you always wanted to be an author?
Therese Creed: All through primary school I told people I was going to be an author, then in later years, when advised by many sensible people to abandon this unrealistic notion, I moved on to other ideas. However the dream only went into hibernation.
Question: What's a typical day like for you, on the cattle station?
Therese Creed: They are all different depending on whether we are mustering, fencing, selling cattle etc. I have 4 sons under 6 so they keep me busy. Sometimes I go mustering with Cedric and his mum takes the boys, But generally the day goes like this;
Wake at 5am or before with 12 month old wanting a breastfeed. Making hurried lunch for my husband while he milks the cow, and putting a loaf of bread in the bread machine. Straight after breakfast, Start on Distance Education schooling with my two older sons (6 and nearly 5 year olds.)
Finish school late morning, rush around and do housework, washing etc.
Head off to help my husband if required, kids in tow, or outing to the creek, yards or paddock.
Home for lunch and sleeps, I cook dinner for that night.
Afternoon, I work the weaner cattle on horseback while my husband minds the kids, – my sanity time. If we have no weaners, I take the boys for a bike ride.
Feeding dogs, chooks, horses (if dry).
Dinner, bath-time bed BEDLAM
My precious hour or two of writing time!
Question: Can you tell us about how a coal mining company took over land for exploratory drilling?
Therese Creed: Our best brigalow fattening block, situated at Goovigen, came under threat three years ago when an energy company, contacted us to inform us that they were going to do exploratory drilling on our property. We were required to move our cattle from the path of the drill rig and were welcome to present if we liked (on our own land!) We could not prevent this as the government owns any minerals, even under freehold land, and had given the company the exploration rights for our area. They then tried to coerce us into signing paperwork that would have given them unlimited access for nine months, without notification. Luckily we took it to a solicitor first and he told us we did not have to sign, as we had been told. The drill rig then entered our property, driving all over our new crop, drilled the holes and left, throwing all their rubbish down the holes they left behind. They have left us up in the air saying that they will not be interested in any development of a mine or sequestration for at least ten years. So we are uncertain as to how much we should continue to develop this land ourselves. Unfortunately, all the best food producing land also seems to have coal under it.
Question: How did you go about creating the character of Alice Wilson?
Therese Creed: Alice is a combination of a few, really amazing, though humble, women on the land that I know, who can do absolutely anything with stock, horses and dogs. They are also incredible business and land managers. They do all this without fanfare, they are reserved, tough and ladylike at the same time, just like the character of Alice.
Question: Are you writing another book? Will it be of a similar theme?
Therese Creed: Yes I am writing another rural fiction but this time it is about a city girl, a jaded primary school teacher (much like I was in 2003) who takes up a position with a family on a large cattle station near Ingham in Queensland. She is an objective observer of the family dramas that they are having and of all the day to day activities on the station.
Interview by Brooke Hunter