The motif for The Thousand Smiles of Nicholas Goring (the third novel of the Butterfly Hunter series) is an opal. I chose this for a number of interrelated reasons, one of which is very literal: A trip to the opal fossicking fields at Yowah in Queensland is at the emotional heart of the book. Dave and Nicholas have a wonderful time there – and the more I researched it, the more I wanted to visit, too!
Another reason is that opals are a very Australian phenomenon. Wikipedia tells us that opals are also found in places such as Ethiopia, Brazil and Mexico. However, the vast majority of opals are found in Australia (especially South Australia), and opal is the Australia’s national gemstone.
Precious opals can contain almost every colour of the rainbow, though some colours (such as red and black) are rarer than others (white and green). Personally, I love the blues best. With opals being so colourful, of course, I definitely pick up a ‘gay pride’ vibe.
Opals are a hydrated form of silica, with a water content of (usually) between 6% and 10%. So there’s a connection with the novel’s waterhole, which itself is described as having a vivid, jewel-like colour.
The Dreaming stories about how opals were created differ throughout the country, but often involve water (which relates to their content) and fire (which relates to their appearance). Water links to the waterhole, and fire links to Dave and Nicholas’s shared campfires.
I also thought an opal would make an interesting image for the book cover, as some opals look like a bird’s-eye view of landscape – which is the very perspective of most Australian Indigenous paintings. Actually, it now occurs to me that the three Butterfly Hunter covers feature an animal (a butterfly), a vegetable (eucalyptus flowers) and a mineral (an opal) – all of them Australian – which is almost unbearably neat.
I daren’t even hope that you find as much beauty in my novel as you would in a precious opal, but I trust you will see that Dave and Nicholas find all that beauty and more in each other and in their relationship. Thank you so much for being a part of their journey! They have certainly appreciated the companionship.
Blurb for The Thousand Smiles of Nicholas Goring:
Dave and Nicholas, married for seven years now, are happily settled together – but as an Australian prime minister once observed, “Life wasn’t meant to be easy.” An unexpected threat to their beloved waterhole forces Dave to try asserting unofficial custodianship of the Dreamtime site, and a visit from Nicholas’s nephew Robin doesn’t help as he brings his own surprises. And there’s always the question of Nicholas’s health hanging over their heads…
Julie Bozza is an English-Australian hybrid who is fuelled by espresso, calmed by knitting, unreasonably excited by photography, and madly in love with Colin Morgan and John Keats.
The next morning saw Dave and Nicholas at the airport early to collect Robin. They joined the line-up leaning on the waist-high barriers, greeted with nods and friendly monosyllables from the drivers and tour operators and such, some of whom had known Dave since he was a kid. “Brought the missus with you, then?” one of them commented to Dave.
Nicholas snorted with quiet humour, but Dave answered seriously enough. “Yeah, his nephew’s coming to visit for his summer holidays. Well, you know … it’s winter here, summer up there.”
“Got everything arse-about, them Poms.”
“You just wait,” Nicholas muttered darkly. “The magnetic poles will reverse, and then where will you be?”
“Still in God’s own country, mate!”
“So you will,” Nicholas happily responded. “And so will I!”
There was a general round of laughter, and then everyone fell back to their earlier silence or desultory talk. Nicholas nudged Dave with an elbow, and indicated the cold hard floor on the other side of the barriers. “That’s where I was when I saw you for the very first time.”
The guy on the other side of Dave asked, “Love at first sight, was it?”
“I get a lot of that,” Dave remarked.
“What can you do?” was the sympathetic response.
“I fancied him so badly!” Nicholas declared. “It wasn’t love, I don’t suppose – not back then. But that’s where it began. That’s where our story began.”
A resounding silence greeted this. Far too much information to be sharing with Aussie blokes of either gender. Dave was blushing, a little, but he couldn’t deny that he was pleased. No doubt his own smile was as fond as one of Nicholas’s, despite him trying to repress it. He hardly knew where to look.
But finally someone snorted, and someone else spluttered into laughter, and the embarrassment was lost in the general hubbub, or maybe just transformed into something else, something better. “Someone’s overdone it with the coffee this morning,” was one comment. – “That’s why I never bring my missus along,” another observed. – “Jeez, there’s a decent hour and a private place for that kind of thing …”
Dave and Nicholas leant there on the barrier together, pressed shoulder to shoulder, letting the jibes wash over them. And eventually Dave dared to glance at his husband, and he saw Nicholas’s lips curling in infinite amusement … and Dave could hardly even begin to measure his own happiness. He hadn’t seen the edges of it for years.
DON’T Forget the Rafflecopter giveaway