Background Story & Research
Background notes for Across the Creek
I first got the idea of writing Across the Creek when reading an old book about Cornish folklore. In it is the amazing statement that the old Cornish thought that some of the piskeys and other types of fairy people went across the seas. I presume this meant when the emigrants came to countries like Australia to work at the mines.
Then I read a story called 'The Lost Boy of St Allen', and how he fell asleep in the forest. When he was found he was full of stories about a lady who took him to an underground crystal cave. This story made me think about our lost children in Australia – the ones who were lost in the bush and never found. Like in 'Picnic at Hanging Rock.' What happened really? Was there another dimension – was there another answer?
I thought up the dragaroo because I wanted to show that the Cornish culture mingles with the Australian and the two have impacted on each other. We have so much Cornish influence in South Australia that is not always recognised as Cornish.
I often have a strong sense of place in my stories. I like to go to a place that I want to write about – it gives me the atmosphere, the ambience for writing the story, and the Kapunda mine did that for me. I was walking around it one day and I realised the story I was thinking about was right here in the mine. A boy could come across the creek into the mine and find a strange land where his friend Jenice is alive after all.
Although children will read this story as the fantasy it is meant to be, in one way, Across the Creek is a story exploring death. What are fairy stories anyway except ways of explaining the unexplainable to ordinary people? The story of 'The Pied Piper', I believe, is an attempt to deal with the pain of people losing their children to the plague. Sleeping Beauty wakes up, so does Snow White; Jenice Trengove is found alive. Across the Creek gives some alternatives – is there more than we can see?