About Jack Byrne:
I am an Australian who lives and works in the Australian outback training horses, doing farm work, and trying to stay out of trouble. I write from experience (sometimes unfortunate experience!) and have been shot at (“a case of mistaken identity”) and bitten by a snake before. I write on a laptop with a satellite connection and like to ride or drive out to locations I am writing about to get a real feel for the surroundings.
I am happy to hear from readers on my e-mail Jackaroo_Byrne@hotmail.com. I can’t promise an instant reply as I go out working sometimes for a week or so, but I will get back to readers as soon as I can.
Writing The Billabong:
Usually I am a very structured writer. I set up my main characters, plot out the storyline, do summaries of each chapter in the story, then fill in the text. I know what I am going to write for every chapter.
With these stories about Jim and Mark, it is a totally different writing experience. It feels like I sit down to write and a door opens into the past. I step through and there they are going about their daily lives. I struggle to keep up with the story line at times, as my typing’s not really that fast. I don’t have time to wonder about this process while I’m writing, but afterwards I often sit down and ponder. It’s almost as though these guys existed in obscurity and wanted their story told.
There are three sequels to The Billabong. The first two are novellas (eBooks) and are with Dreamspinner Press being edited. The third is a novel, of which I have written about 20,000 words so far. I decided to move to the novel format for the sake of making printed copies available.
Having long ago lost his wife and children, cattleman Jim Kelly works the family farm in the harsh 1800s Australian outback, most days wondering why he bothers. That question is foremost in his mind when a venomous snake takes him by surprise. Another surprise comes when a skilled doctor is in the vicinity to save his life. But the third, and biggest, surprise for Jim is falling hard and fast for that man.
Life on the lam is tough, and bushranger Mark Turner simply wants to maintain his freedom as long as he’s able. Unfortunately, being a doctor, his conscience won’t let him leave a snakebite victim to die. Before he thinks about the consequences of his humanitarian actions, he’s both saved Jim and become smitten with him. But considering how Mark’s past could negatively impact any possibility of a future, maybe falling in love wasn’t such a great idea after all.
Jim jumped and stammered, “I’m sorry. I hadn’t expected…. I was thirsty.”
The man turned to him, and for the first time Jim got a good look at the handsome, tanned face with deep-brown eyes, rough-cut black hair, and an amused look. “Then maybe you should give me that water can and let me fill it for you.”
He held out a hand. Jim swallowed, then stepped forward and almost tripped in the slippery mud at the side of the billabong. “I… thanks. The snake and all that.”
Jim looked up at the trees as the man emerged from the water and reached for the water can. To Jim’s surprise, a wet hand grasped his and shook it. “Mark. Mark Turner. And you would be?”
Jim almost fell over as their joined hands moved up and down perilously close to Mark’s nether regions. He stuttered, “Jim, Jim Kelly.”
He released Mark’s hand but then stared at it blankly when the man kept it held out in front of him. Jim finally managed to meet Mark’s piercing brown eyes, and Mark quirked an eyebrow at him. “You going to give me that?”
“What?” said Jim, stupidly.
“Your water can.”
“Oh. Yes. If you’ve finished with the billy, you could fill it too and I could boil it up for a cup of tea.”
“Sure,” replied Mark, not moving. Then he took the can and stood in front of Jim, about two feet from him, both hands at his sides. “So, how are you feeling?”
“I… I… I… what?”
“You a bit slow, mate?” Mark asked sympathetically.
“No! No! I read!”
Mark smiled at him and looked quizzical, prompting Jim to go on defiantly, “And I write. And I play the piano.”
Mark said, “You must be feeling a bit wonked-out still after that snake bite, then.”
“I suppose so. Thanks for that.”
“You said that. You’re welcome. Seem worth saving. It’s nice when you save someone and they’re alright. Sucks if they’re a right bastard, you end up wishing you never… you know.”
Jim tried to keep his eyes up front and center, but he caught a slight movement at the periphery of his vision, just below Mark’s waist, and he couldn’t help but look down, then turn away, feeling his face warm up.
Mark laughed. “I’ll get the water. What’s the matter, never seen a bloke naked before?”
The Giveaway: THIS CONTEST IS CLOSED