Local author Lily Malone caps off the Chalk Hill Series with the release of Last Bridge Before Home, the third and final book in the best-selling romance trilogy next week.
Chalk Hill is a fictional town based on the Muirs Highway about halfway between Manjimup and Mount Barker. Lily says: "think Rocky Gully but prettier." From the beginning of the series, she's had lovely feedback from readers who enjoy the way in which she writes about the bush and landscapes of Western Australia's south west.
Last Bridge Before Home centres on the story of Jaydah Tully and the middle brother of the Honeychurch boys, winemaker Braxton 'Brix'. These two were introduced briefly in the second story released last year, The Cafe By The Bridge.
"Jaydah was written to be a strong female lead," Lily says. "She runs the bar at the Chalk Hill bowling club and in The Cafe By The Bridge we see a scene where she's about to run off a couple of thugs who've had a bit too much to drink at closing time, using some kung-fu moves and a pool cue."
This scene is revisited at the start of Last Bridge Before Home and sets up Jaydah's difficult home life and particularly, her problems with her abusive father.
Lily says she had a lot of help from two specific friends in the writing of Last Bridge Before Home. Dayna Gould, a nurse at Busselton Hospital, helped Lily write symptoms and treatments for the illness that strikes Val Honeychurch, the boys' mum in the book. The second contributor is a former school friend of Lily now working with the Department of Communities in the south west.
Lily says talking with her friend (who doesn't wish to be named) opened her eyes to the lengths some people will go to in efforts to rort the welfare system in Australia.
"It saddened me that the events that play out in Last Bridge Before Home can be true," she said. "If someone is determined to, they can fall through the gaps. Sometimes dragging their entire family down with them."
Early reviews of Last Bridge Before Home talk of the different 'tone' of this novel to the first two in the Chalk Hill series, and Lily says the new book is 'definitely darker.'
"I got to kill a character which I haven't done before. Actually, I kill two!"
"On a serious note," she says, "I wasn't sure that my publisher would accept the book in the rural romance genre with these darker themes, but Harper Collins is an active supporter of the White Ribbon campaign which aims to prevent men's violence against women, www.whiteribbon.org.au and they are strong on bringing more awareness of this issue across Australia."
The Margaret River Bookshop will hold the official launch for Last Bridge Before Home at the Bookshop on Thursday December 19 from 5.30pm.
Guests are welcome to enjoy a glass of champagne with Lily and can get copies of the books signed, as well as browse the shelves for Christmas gifts.