Jan 25, 2010

Finding inspiration! by Hélene Young

If only it was straight forward…

People, towns, news stories or even a vista can all spark my imagination though if I had to pick one thing that never fails to inspire me I’d say ‘place’. The setting is very important for me and landscape is an integral part of that. Most days when I go to work I look down on Australia. We often joke that we have the world’s smallest office with the world’s best view! Call me biased, but working as a pilot for a regional airline, and flying over the Great Barrier Reef, is a pretty special way to spend the day. (And don’t tell my boss, but I think they actually pay me to sit there and admire the scenery…)

On a typical day I might do the early morning return flight to Hamilton Island in the magical Whitsundays. Our track takes us out over the Coral Sea and we make landfall again as we thread our way down the centre of the Whitsunday Islands. Easy for me to imagine my hero and heroine rendezvousing at sunrise on a tiny atoll ringed by coral reefs, as they hunt down smugglers.

If our flight heads north out of Cairns then we’re on our way to Weipa or Horn Island. I’ve used Weipa and its surrounds extensively in Border Watch because it’s such a unique place. The red bauxite-rich earth punches through the dark green of the trees in bold, vibrant slashes of colour. Everything feels big in Weipa. The mining trucks are enormous, the four-wheel drive vehicles have been fed steroids and the crocodiles are definitely in the monster category. Arcing over the whole landscape is a vibrant blue sky that has no end.

Further north is Horn Island, gateway to the beautiful Torres Strait. With its opalescent water, white beaches and scattered islands it’s Australia’s best-kept secret. On a clear day, when the visibility stretches on for miles, you can see the smudge of the Papua New Guinea coastline. Most people don’t realize how close Australia is to its northern neighbours - perfect to delve into the possibilities of illegal entry to our country.

Bernadette Foley, my wonderful publisher from Hachette, had some great advice on my first draft of Border Watch -‘Treat the Australian landscape as another character.’ I hope I’ve achieved that.

When I get off an aircraft in Cairns and the humidity slaps me in the face I know I’m in North Queensland. Drive through the forests south towards Charters Towers and the smell of lemon myrtle takes my breath away. Be greeted by the laconic humour of a publican in Chillagoe and I can’t help but smile. The history and diversity of the people that live in rural Australia add another layer, another dimension to that landscape that makes their towns unique and for me inspirational.


I live by a beach just north of Cairns – my own tiny slice of paradise in North Queensland. When I’m not writing, you’ll find me flying Dash 8 aircraft for QantasLink around regional Australia. I write romantic suspense with feisty, confident heroines who (not surprisingly) work in the aviation industry. My stories are set in the top end of Australia – a wild and wonderful, larger-than-life environment just begging to be showcased in novels filled with intrigue.’

'Border Watch' March 2010, Hachette Australia
'Beyond the Borders' March 2011



  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I will try again. :)

    Hi Helene,
    I used to scuba dive around the islands. I particularly loved Magnetic and Lizard. But all of the islands are beautiful.

    It is a nice piece of paradise. I also have my own piece of paradise where I now live. Austalia is so beautiful.

    I was going to say best of Luck with Border Watch, but something tells me it's going to be a huge success. Best of Luck anyhow. :)

    Enjoyed your post. :)

  3. Hi Helene, reading your post just made me more excited to read your book. It sounds amazing! Best of luck. x

  4. Hi Suzanne, I haven't had the pleasure of diving round Lizard Island... I flew in there when I first started my job in Cairns in a Twin Otter. It was magnificent. We always looked for an excuse to go unserviceable but alas it never quite worked out... Darn

    Thanks for your good wishes!

  5. Hi Fiona, thanks for that! It's starting to get a little nerve wracking now...
    My book launch is booked for 5th March and I guess that's only just over a month away now!

  6. Hi Helene, If you're going to go diving you definitely need to do it at the reef. And make sure your partner is a girl. Men tend to treat scuba diving as a competitive sport and steam off at a hundred miles an hour and girls meander along and SEE everything. Ask a man what he saw during his dive and he'll probably reply nothing much. Ask a woman and she'll describe five different kinds of nudibranch, fifteen different corals, twenty species of small fish etc, etc...
    Please forgive the anonymous tag, I've no idea how to select a profile.

  7. Hi Sandy, thankfully GW is a drifter (in more ways than one, but that's another story altogether...) and that means we wander at the same pace. Last time we went to the reef we snorkelled. The coral gardens in the first two meters captivate me and I'm happy drifting over them feeling like a benevolent manta ray!

    Of course I have been known to try and talk underwater when the beauty of the moment gets too intense...

  8. Yeah, the best place is the first thirty feet.

  9. Looking forward to reading the book. I love anything to do with flying and my son also lived in Weipa for a year. Living in the south of WA it should take me on a great journey.
    Sorry too about the anonymous tag, I've no idea how to select a profile!

  10. Thanks for visiting Nicole! Hope you do enjoy Border Watch.

    Chances are I flew your son in or out of Weipa. It's very busy route!