Writing The Great Southland

The process and the story of The Great Southland.
Although The Great Southland is fictional, some biographical elements feature in the story. I based Bill on my half-brother who served at Tobruk, El Alamein, and New Guinea in the Second World War. Some stated events happened to me as a boy in Clare. Rolf is a fictional character, suggested by my discovery of some Italian POWs who immigrated and met Australian soldiers they opposed in World War II. I’ve attempted to tell the story of soldiers in the war and the women who waited and worried.
This story is set in 1950, with flashbacks to bring the trauma suffered in war. I tried to depict the futility of war and the effect it had on all who participated. This story is about the resilience of the human spirit and how these men and women recovered from the trauma and got on with loving and living in the world that followed the war. The terrible experiences were just below the surface, somehow they became good citizens again and found happiness.
World War II changed the world, but most of all, it changed Rolf, Bill, and Elaine who were victims of the carnage. Somehow they had to learn to love again when they came home. In this gripping family saga, we see redemption in the wounded soldiers who survived the war.
The war scarred the men who returned. Their physical wounds healed, but the mental scars remained. The women who were left behind without their loved ones had to cope. World War II dramatically affected the lives of German soldier Rolf Krieger’s family who were wiped out at the nightmare in Dresden. Australian soldier Bill Kelly returned home wounded and suffering disease. Bill’s sister Elaine Foreman lost her husband in New Guinea.
They all met after the war and tried to get on with their lives, but memories of the trauma they suffered came back and haunted them. The past intruded into the present as if the war had never ended. Rolf married Bill’s sister after a torrid love affair. Soon after he discovered the devastating truth about Bill’s war record. The consequences placed two men’s lives in jeopardy. Danger threatened families, marriages, friendships, and relationships.
Rolf Had to rebuild his life amongst his enemies.
The past intruded into his life as if the war never ended. The horrible truth made Rolf, Bill, Elaine and their family find a way to cope.

Some biographical elements feature in this story.

The malaria sequence took place in front of me, although I shifted the action from Bill’s bedroom to the building site. Some views Bill expressed and his attitude about the war are close to the way he thought.
The two storey house existed, and Bill employed an English carpenter who met and married my half-sister. I based Elaine on my half-sister. I substituted Rolf for the carpenter in the romance sequences. My mother ran the boarding house during the war and converted the residence into flats.
Finsbury Migrant Hostel existed at the time of this story.
Kate is based on my mother, although Mum was a beautiful person.
I watched the Hutt River flood when I was a boy.
The house in the paddock existed, and Bill helped the Englishman renovate it so he could live with my half-sister.
One day my mother, brother, and I were crossing the paddock on the return walk from my half-sister's house when we encountered a snake. Mum drove the reptile away with stones. That gave me the idea for the snake in the story.
The Third of August battle at Tobruk took place, although my half-brother didn't take part.
My half-brother lived in a house on the Norwood Parade.
I wanted to set the novel in 1946, but I found immigration had not then begun and Finsbury Hostel didn't exist so I changed it to 1950, the year the Government built the Pennington facility.

This story was the beginning of my writing career although I found it difficult and went away and wrote other books and published them before I came back to The Great Southland although it had a different name at the time.
Of all the stories I have written, this story is closest to my heart. I loved writing it, and I hope you get similar pleasure reading it.
Please let me know what you think.

Reece Pocock

The Great Southland by Reece Pocock
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Published on October 11, 2016 22:08 Tags: the-great-southland
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