Soul Country’   

For YA and Adult readers.

Soul Country’  is available online as an ebook to purchase or borrow through Amazon Kindle Books, through either a YA or Adult selection.

What's the book about?

Soul Country  is a novel exploring the relationships and responses of three young people to each other, to their differing cultures, to the love they have for their ‘soul country’ and the effects that these environments ultimately have on their lives.
The story is told by nineteen-year-old Jenna Yates. She is a talented and passionate sculpture student, driven by a ferocious storm to an empty house on a spectacular part of the SA coast. Her boy friend has just dumped her and she is having difficulties with her family. Jenna repairs storm damage to the house, can’t bring herself to leave, and then by chance makes a discovery that will change lives forever.
Who is hiding close by in a derelict house, and why?  

Four characters face, or have faced life-threatening experiences in their own unique environments...countries at war, the Southern Ocean, Antarctica, and the valley where Jenna is now living. But beneath their idyllically beautiful surfaces all are extremely dangerous and for some, deadly.

Comments from Bron Blake

The extracts from the Mawson Diary used in this novel are accurate, but edited, selections from the diary kept by my late husband, Dr Roger (Joe) Blake, during his year at Mawson.

In January 1958, the Mawson Antarctic research base was only four years old and, unlike the present station, which is huge by comparison, it was then a tiny isolated settlement on the edge of the Antarctic continent, relying on poor radio links, the annual visit of the polar ship, and members of other nation’s stations for communication and safety.

Roger Blake was a 21 year-old physicist, when he went to Mawson as one of the two auroral physicists, and as navigator for the three month southern seismic trip to the Prince Charles Mountains. It was the International Geophysical Year, and many countries that had not had a previous presence in the Antarctic, sent scientists south. Those nations already there, considerably expanded their programs with some opening new bases.

For every day of the fourteen months he spent in Antarctica, Roger wrote in a diary. Much of it is scientific detail, but the major part of the diary relates the day-to-day life of a working expeditioner in this most extraordinary of continents. He documented life in detail at Mawson fifty years ago, recorded the visits of the Russians, the Australian’s visits to the Russian base of Mirny, the rescue of the Belgians, his months living under extreme conditions at the isolated Taylor Station, and the hardships which the five man team endured on the southern seismic trip.
Roger Blake is remembered in Antarctica by the Blake Nunataks and Blake Island, both named after him. He was awarded the Polar Medal in 1959 for his navigation, mapping and field work on the southern seismic trip briefly written about in this book.
Roger taught mathematics at RMIT, Melbourne for many years, and died in 1985.

The measurements in this diary were originally written in Imperial.  For ease of understanding, I have converted them to metric.

I would also like to acknowledgement the help and assistance given by the following people and organisations:
This manuscript was begun with the assistance of The May Gibbs Children’s Literature Trust, during my Fellowship with them in Adelaide. For this I thank them sincerely.

My grateful thanks also to:
The Australian Antarctic Division, Hobart, and ANARE club members, Doug Twigg, Chris Gamgee, David Carstens, George Cresswell (Mawson, 1960). Alex Brown and Eric Jesson who were members of the Mawson 1958 Southern seismic trip, and Sabine Smith widow of Frank Smith,(aka, Bernie) also of the Southern seismic trip.
Jason Killen, marine biologist, Heron Island.
The students of St Aloysius College in Adelaide, who generously shared their stories of suffering, war, displacement and their journeys to Australia as boat people.
Cath Walker and Natalie Palmer for assistance and advice along the way.