November 29, 2023

Fiona McIntosh visits Sydney for The Sugar Palace

Here's Stevie Jacobs and myself walking through the streets of The Rocks
...with a film one does!

Well to tell the truth I thought this was a very quirky tale and I did have some moments of worry that it wouldn't hit the mark.  I had to trust the Penguin team which felt there was something magical about the story that packed plenty of fun and lightness into what turned into a gangster tale.  And the two lead characters, despite coming from such wildly different backgrounds and attitudes, were very easy to like and cheer for.  

I'm thrilled with how you've all responded to the novel and that you've once again enjoyed an all-Australian setting.  It has given me the confidence to write Australian stories but I can't promise all Australian all the time because I do hanker for my European locations and I especially enjoy the challenge of armchair travelling you to far-flung places.

Luckily security didn't catch me but how could I resist not climbing into the window at the flagship Dymocks Books store in George Street, Sydney?

The Sugar Palace setting of Sydney is wonderful with all of its 1920s swagger and dare. It really was an ambitious city in this timeframe; imagine that glorious harbour with no Opera House, no Harbour Bridge and a few ferries plying back and forth between Circular Quay and the North Shore. The North Shore felt like a 'whole other place' and was an aspirational location that a lot of city dwellers dreamed of moving to live. Today its closest suburbs are like a part of the city and we go back and forth across that bridge barely pausing to imagine how audacious the idea of a single-span bridge that would link the city to the north shore might be.

As I said to audiences while on tour, I had no idea the story would go where it did. And while it was a shock to find myself and my characters in brothels and two up parlours, running with razor gangs and selling cocaine, I realise now that the darker side of this tale is the perfect counterbalance to the sweet, sugary fun of Grace's fabulous confectionery.  

Thanks to all who have read it and enjoyed it.  To those of you who may be eyeing it off as a gift, it will be some lovely post-Christmas reading for you.  And I hope that countless copies will find their way beneath various Christmas trees this year. 

For all those audio lovers, I have recorded the foreword for this book myself. Normally, the narrator reads the acknowledgements but these felt very personal with recollections of childhood and we all agreed it would sound authentic for the listener in my voice. 

I'm not a professional narrator so I've done my best but at least this is me, talking to you, and enjoying being able to explain the idea behind the story. Hope you enjoy.  

Where am I off to next?

This is Swanage Pier in Dorset, and is one of the landmarks I'll be looking to visit as soon as I hit save on this blog post.  

As mentioned, I shall be on the ground for only a week but I have decided I'll do some small videos on location and I'll post those on FB and Instagram so you can follow me.  

In late January I hope to be headed down to Tasmania to begin the early research on the new novel for 2025 that some of you will recall is the sequel to The Champagne War as we follow what happened next to Capt Charlie Nash.  I have no idea, of course, because I don't plan but I'm intrigued to see where he takes us.

In March I am going to Scotland, which is where I see the early part of the story occurring. It has been one of my dreams to experience the Northern Lights, which has been on my bucket list since I was very young.  It was meant to be my 60th birthday gift but we had to postpone due to the Covid years. We are cruising in far northern Europe to catch that glimpse. 

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