My first four novels came one year after another.
This one has taken longer, primarily due to my going through retirement and
other exigencies of life. A secondary reason was that it took longer to craft.
Tartan Identity was relatively
easy compared to this effort. I had the starting point – the abrupt end of
Identity Theft (about which I had some adverse comment); and I had the last
line, an irresistible pun. All I had to do was fill in the middle bit; and the
middle bit was spiced up with sex and derring-do.
The story sprang from the mysterious zone of my
imagination over which I have no control. The shapes of the characters came
readily; fashioning themselves from bits of people I have known, mixed with a
touch of invention here and there, and glued together by the demands of the
plots and subplots.
The response to Tartan Identity however
surprised me, given I had anticipated a certain amount of negative reaction to
the sexy bits. However, I tell you ladies from the feedback I received, there is
a great deal going on in your minds that many men are not aware of – and age is
not an indicator of attitudes either!
So we come to The Dog Catcher from Keister North.
One of the problems I had in writing this book was trying to moderate my use of
the amount of the fascinating material that I had or that came to hand during
research relating to technical aspects of the tale; just so the story could
survive. Another was that current events kept catching up with the invented
Notwithstanding, the characters and events in The
Dog Catcher from Keister North are wholly fictional and were set in the
future at the time of writing. So any comparison of characters in the book with
real people you may know is unequivocally co-incidental; and, in some cases, a
Read a sample: Pauline Negotiates
Pauline Curtis was sitting up in bed looking past her
doctor’s shoulder and through the top floor window of her private room at
Brisbane’s Greenslopes Hospital. She was looking in the general direction of the
north of the city and roughly towards where her family home was located. In the
foreground were the roofs of the multiple buildings that made up the older parts
of the complex. Notwithstanding the elevation of the hospital over the
surrounding suburbs, she could see no further north than the tall towers that
dominated the Brisbane City skyline in the middle distance. The early business
of the day and the warmth of the river water had surrounded the city in a misty
microclimate in the cool of the winter morning.
Pauline was in a way pleased she could not see her
family home. She wanted to avoid it at all costs. For Pauline Curtis her family
home was nothing less than a trap.
Pauline didn’t know whether the Keister Shire’s
workers’ compensation or her private health insurance company was going to foot
the bill for her hospitalisation but as far as she was concerned they could
fight that out between them. She had told the hospital it would be workers’
compensation and no doubt the hospital’s accounts department had already begun
to pursue the cost of her stay. The advice she had given was on the basis that
she felt the facts of her injury were indisputably such that no one could argue
differently. Still with Keister Shire Council you never knew what the outcome
might be. Moreover the speed of events had been such that, while no doubt
someone had told the powers that be about what had happened, she had not had the
opportunity to make any sort of report; let alone fill in a claim form. All she
had received were a couple of phone calls from her friend Diana in the Chief
Executive Officer’s office enquiring about her condition and wishing her well.
On the other hand Pauline reflected, if you had to be
unwell this, her most recent hospital stay and her first since a teenage
appendectomy, had made her firmly of the belief that Greenslopes Hospital was
the sort of place you would want to be unwell in. The private room was of
generous size, and so was the ensuite bathroom. The floor was carpeted and
thankfully so was the corridor outside. Pauline’s recollection of other
hospitals was that they had been noisy places.
It was just after half past nine in the morning and
she knew she only had a limited time left to dictate terms. This was partially
because the doctor that was at that minute sharing the commendable space of the
room with her bed and other furniture had done everything he wanted to do, seen
everything he had wanted to see, and said everything he had wanted to say. No
doubt Doctor Wasniak had more patients to examine, but before he left Pauline
wanted him to do something for her. Doing it before he left, that was
immediately, now, in the next three minutes, was essential.
Given the woman’s usual pattern of travel by train
and taxi from the family home trap in the suburbs on the other side of the
city’s towers, she knew she only had about twenty more minutes of free time
until her mother descended on her.
Now her relationship with her mother was, from her
side of things, reasonable; as long as her mother didn’t try to run her life.
That was an ongoing tendency her mother had, and Pauline’s understanding from
her friends was that, if it came to giving ratings her mother was from the top
of the order. Should there be such a thing as a parenting world cup her opinion
was that her mother could smother for Australia. While Pauline could understand
that her mother had a continuing concern for her, particularly when she was an
only child; when that concern kept putting her adult self into the position of
an over-dependent eight year old it was intolerable.
From a medical perspective, things were much better.
Doctor Wasniak was satisfied that all of her five fingers on her right hand had
an excellent blood supply from both arteries, that she could work them all
independently, albeit gently and with care lest she pull at the stitches in her
wounds, and no infection had set in or was now likely to set in. He had
announced that he was prepared to let her go if everything was satisfactory for
another twenty four hours; but with conditions.
The doctor, who had placed most of those stitches and
with whom she had built up a certain rapport, had given her permission to be
discharged as long as she monitored her temperature on a daily basis, continued
to take oral antibiotics as prescribed, and visited the hospital twice a week
for a wound inspection and a change of dressings; the hospital’s outpatients
department to decide when to remove the external stitches. She fully understood
that plastic surgery to make her arm look prettier was an option down the track
but that she could do that only when her wounds had fully healed; and her psyche
was properly adjusted to the situation. Pauline had absolutely no argument with
any of that. It all made sense.
What she wanted from the doctor was for him to
declare her fit to fly; and she wanted it in writing should the airline query
her condition. She understood she would be discharged with her arm in a sling,
still be a little frail and have something of a hospital pallor. She also wanted
him to write down on her chart that she would be fit to convalesce under the
care of her own doctor at the Keister Hospital. It would be even better if he
would write down that such a move would be preferable, but she would take the
first option if that was all she could get. She knew that someone else would
read that chart.
Pauline could cope with the antibiotics and the yucky
way they made her feel. She could cope with monitoring her own temperature. She
could cope with reporting to a hospital, daily if necessary. She could even cope
with Keister and the Keister Shire Council. What she could not cope with was the
smothering care that she would be cotton-woolled in if she went home to
convalesce with her mother. Doctor Wasniak was however taking some convincing.
“Look Mark,” she said to the doctor with whom she had
built up something of a friendly relationship, “I may not be a doctor but I am
twenty six years old, have a science degree and I know what infection is all
about. I’m a fucking health inspector for Christ’s sake. You said yourself that
Keister Hospital did a good job on me before they flew me down here so they can
look after me now.”