“Flood” is part of Ryn Shell’s “Dreaming Billabong” series, and like the others in the series, it is a sweeping epic that has elements of romance, mystery, crime and adventure. It tells the stories of Fife Springs, a fictional town in remote inland Australia 60 years ago. A time when white European settlers journeyed to Australia to make a new life following the Second World War and found themselves thrown into close contact with the aboriginal people who had inhabited the land for centuries. As is often the case, the people who had been living in Fife Springs long before the arrival of Europeans find themselves displaced and discriminated against in “Flood.” And the settlers find that Australia’s outback is more challenging than they ever dreamed it would be.
The story centers around Emily and Jarrah, young people from different sides of the cultural divide who, on the surface, have very little in common. As they are forced to work together following a natural disaster, the two find a commonality that surprises both of them, and a relationship develops. They find that, despite the difference in their race and socioeconomic status, they have similar family histories. But what binds them most is their love of the place they live: Fife Springs and the Dreaming Billabong, the lagoon that “reflects every colour of the Rainbow Serpent that rests in its depth. When the serpent sleeps, even life-hardened swagmen swear they hear the ghost.”
Beautifully written, “Flood” and the other books in the “Dreaming Billabong” series illuminate Australian culture and history through the stories of ordinary people struggling to survive Australia’s harsh and beautiful landscape.
About the Author
Ryn Shell is a prolific author and artist who has been writing for 60 years. As Ryn Shell, she wrote the 7 books in the “Dreaming Billabong” series. As Kathy Shell, she writes books on art instruction and designs eBook covers, including for the “Dreaming Billabong” series. As Gray Nomad, she writes nature, travel and lifestyle non-fiction as well as instruction books on plot plans for almost every writing genre: epic, romance, young adult, mystery and more.
Shell’s own life has been as fascinating as the lives of the characters in “Flood”. Indeed, the character of Emily in the “Dreaming Billabong” series is based on Shell herself. Shell says that she felt she needed to wait 50 years until she felt safe enough to tell the stories contained in the books.
Like Emily, Ryn Shell was born into a wealthy family, to parents whose talents included the criminal. As a young child, her father, on the run from the authorities, abandoned the family. More loss followed when her mother, who was left in near poverty, became incapacitated with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. In reaction to the losses and loneliness of her childhood, young Ryn created an imaginary friend, Charlotte, as does the fictional character Harry in Dreaming Billabong. Ryn modelled Emily after herself, having her draw strength from nature and the place she lives.
Shell’s lifetime of experiences and her ability to become a stronger, more resilient person because of them are evident in the characters she creates in her fiction. Multi-faceted, with depth and sensitivity and keen powers of observation, Emily is a heroine that readers will instantly identify and empathize with. She, like Ryn Shell, gets fortitude from her connection to nature and to Australia itself.