About the BookBook: When the Curlews Call Author: Joanne Markey Genre: Christian Historical Mystery, Fairytale retelling Release Date: September 5, 2023 Some say all Sophia Randall thinks of are romance novels and dance frocks… That may have been true once, but when war broke out, reaching even to our isolated corner of the bush, my priorities changed. I now read news from afar and dance but rarely. Only my love for the Almighty God, for family and friends, for the man who captured my heart, for the bush, and for the call of the curlew haven’t changed. Especially the call of the curlew. Some say it’s mournful—even sinister—but I’ve always delighted in that lonely cry heralding the end of another day. And when Kenny went off to war, it became a promise—a reminder of his love and determination to return. When the unthinkable happens, my prayers become listless. New challenges surface. Ghostly footsteps join the coal trucks rumbling through town. Dingoes lurk in the shadows. Valuables vanish. A… presence chases me through the bush. Burdens weigh me down, and I forget to remember. But is all lost? Would the pain in my heart be easier to bear if I stopped to listen for the curlews’ call? Loosely based on “The Boy Who Disappeared”, When the Curlews Call is a story of ghostly doings, missing airmen, and a young girl desperate to keep the home fires burning when all hope seems lost. Told through a series of letters, readers will follow Sophia’s journey, sharing her triumphs and trials all through the long, dark days of World War II.
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About the AuthorOriginally from Australia, Joanne Markey now lives in Ohio with her husband and seven children. When she’s not reading or writing, you might find her wandering the property with her kids in search of whatever seasonal treasure they’re trying to find.
Enjoy an Excerpt!
Sunday, 17th September, 1939My dear friend Lilian, The war has hardly begun and already I wish it were over! From the way they talk, we live in daily fear that my beloved brothers, Hans and Peter, will enlist. They hardly talk of anything else. Hans has begun to wave goodbye in the morning with a cheery—as only Hans can manage!—warning that Mum ought not be surprised if he should sign up before nightfall. It’s only a joke, but there is a serious glint in his eyes that would seem to imply he is thinking it through. I don’t know why, but he seems to be biding his time. Perhaps for Mum’s sake? It’s so near Christmas—only a little more than three months—it would not be a surprise if he waited until after that date, because we all know how much the Yuletide season means to our mother. As much as I would hate to see them go, they feel very strongly about doing their bit. Which one cannot fault them for! But when I think of the other boys from our district, my heart grows heavy. When will they feel the call to serve God and country? When will we be forced to say goodbye to those we love? In particular, when will he feel the call to serve? Oh, how I wish you were here so we could sneak away for one of our late-night yarns. Curled up in the hammocks with our blankets pulled to our chins, and the stars shining overheard as we share the deepest secrets of our hearts. I know you are doing the right thing there in the city, dearest Lilian, but oh, how I miss you! Don’t mind me. It’s just that I feel particularly emotional tonight, and as I listen to the curlews call and try not to spill tears onto my paper, I will attempt to share as we used to do face to face. Changes have come to our little town since you’ve been gone. The Salvation Army hall was sold to the Methodist church, and they have begun to remodel the building to be used for services. I miss our little meetings held there, but Mum is longing forward to the day when she can sit down in a good old-fashioned Methodist church again. Did you know that the McCormicks regularly attend the Methodist church in Clermont?! I only learned that yesterday, and I learned it from a very reliable source. Kenny! Yes, you read that right. Kenneth McCormick himself told me that his family regularly attends church in Clermont, but now that we have our own little Methodist church, he might consider coming here. He’s often over this way to visit his cousin Duncan at the Birimgan sawmill, so he didn’t see why they couldn’t ride into Blair Athol for church before he goes back to his father’s station, Wallaby Run. I’m sure you are wondering how I came to be talking to Kenny, and that, my dear friend, is why I wish you were here. It would be so much easier to tell you what happened than to write it out. But we cannot change our circumstances by wishing, so I’ll do my best. Early yesterday morning, Dad trucked a huge load of wethers in. There was a slight mix-up in the time the train arrived, so the man who’d arranged to meet Dad hadn’t come by the time the train got here. I don’t know how or why, but there wasn’t anyone around to help unload, so Dad had me help. He had me don a pair of Peter’s dungarees and boots that were at least a dozen sizes too big. My only hope was that no one would see me, but sadly that wasn’t the case because… Partway through unloading, Dad called for me to go into the yard with the sheep to close a gate. That would have been all fine and dandy, but just as I got the gate halfway closed, the sheep, being sheep, decided they didn’t want to be in that yard. They wanted to be in the other yard. The one I was trying to close them out of. So, they turned and charged, bleating like their lives depended on it. I heard yelling but couldn’t decipher the meaning due to the noise of the bleating. All that came to mind was the need to get that gate closed. However, remember those boots I had to wear? One caught on the other, and instead of closing the gate, the only feat I managed was to fall on my face in the dirt and muck in front of a mob of four thousand charging sheep. I barely had time to cover my head with my arms before the first sheep rushed by me. My last thought was that this was it. I would never see Mum, Dad, my brothers, you, or Kenny ever again. All I could do was pray that the end would come as swiftly and as painlessly as possible. Then something strange happened. Instead of being trampled to death, my body rose above the sheep. In my wild, fear-addled state, I momentarily thought death had come and my body being transported to the afterlife. I don’t think it happens that way, but one doesn’t think clearly when one is under the shocking impression one has died! Only a moment passed before I realized that it wasn’t an angel carrying me, it was a man. One whose voice I recognized as Kenny’s the moment he yelled to Dad that I was okay. But I wasn’t okay!
Interview with the Author
What helps you to write? Do you eat snacks, listen to music?
The answer to what helps me write would be nothing. Not really. But if I had to put into words what helps me to write I would have to say that when my imagination is working, that’s all I need. I learned to prefer writing on my phone for that very reason—because no matter when or where the story starts playing out in my head, I can write. Home or away. Day or night. Sitting or standing.
For the longest time I refused to set my phone up to write. I had all kinds of objections—the screen was too small, or the writing program wasn’t set up the same for mobile as it was for desktop, or that I had to learn how to type with my thumbs for speed and it was clunkier than sitting down to type. But the day came when I found myself waiting on a kid at a time and a place that didn’t support the use of a laptop. However, my head was filled with story ideas, so I pulled out my phone and very reluctantly got things set up and started to type. And the story flowed so quickly I had the entire book written in eight days. All my objections proved to be minor inconveniences that were easily ignored and I now switch back and forth between my phone and laptop as needed, but most of my books have been written on my phone because I can take it anywhere, and my imagination waits for nothing.
Sadly, for several months of this year there’s been a lot going on in our lives and my mind has been too busy mulling over those things to have time for stories. I’m hoping to get back to writing again soon.
If you could travel back in time, what time period would you go to?
I think it would be fun to visit all of the time periods. There is so much that would be interesting to see. If I had to pick just one though… my favorite would probably have to be the Regency or Victorian eras, which isn’t quite one. Those years hold so much that I’d love to see though, I can’t separate them. But not just for the English high society. While that would be a hugely interesting thing to see, I’d also love to get a glimpse of the settling of the American west. To think that on one continent, people had their glittering balls and fancy dresses, and on the other, they were exploring untamed lands. It’s such a contrast, and would be so cool to see. And then there’s also Australia. During those years, you have the convict settlements, exploration, and like the settling of the American west, it would be so cool to see what we’ve only read about in books.
What is your favorite book and why?
My favorite book would have to be Georgette Heyer’s Frederica. I have no idea why. I just loved the story so much I read it more times in quick succession than I’ve ever read any other book. Second to that would be Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice which I’ve read more times than any other book, just not in quick succession. And it’s a favorite because I simply loved the characters and the story so much I prefer it to any other book.
What is your favorite hymn and why?
I don’t think I’ve ever settled on any one hymn as a favorite. I love all the old hymns and every time I start thinking I might like one in particular, another comes to mind and I decide I like it just as well. Sadly, while I do love to sing, I don’t like the sound of my singing voice and I don’t think anyone else does either so I don’t go about singing anything or think about songs/hymns/music much at all. 🙂
What is one thing readers would be surprised to learn about you?
I don’t know if this would be considered surprising, but it’s not something you hear of very often—I don’t drive. I can. I even had my driver’s license in Australia. But I never cared for the practice and when I moved continents and everything was suddenly reversed from what I knew, I found it too overwhelming to get behind the wheel. Over the years since then I’ve attempted to get my license, but I’ve never made it beyond a learner’s permit because the very thought of driving gives me anxiety so I never end up practicing enough to take the driving test.
Does that come with limitations? Definitely. I can’t drop everything and go anywhere on a whim and I have to rely on other people to get me where I need to go. However, I rarely want to leave the house so that part isn’t a problem, and when I do go out, I have people who are willing to drive me where I need to go. I’ve been without the ability to drive for almost 23 years, and don’t see that changing anytime soon.
Thank you for letting us get to know you better!
Stories By Gina, December 1 (Author Interview)
Locks, Hooks and Books, December 2
Beauty in the Binding, December 3 (Author Interview)
Life on Chickadee Lane, December 3
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 4
Artistic Nobody, December 5 (Author Interview)
Texas Book-aholic, December 6
Tell Tale Book Reviews, December 7 (Author Interview)
Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 8
Guild Master, December 9 (Author Interview)
Happily Managing a Household of Boys, December 10
Fiction Book Lover, December 11 (Author Interview)
Holly’s Book Corner, December 11
Connie’s History Classroom, December 12
Through the Fire Blogs, December 13 (Author Interview)
For Him and My Family, December 14
To celebrate her tour, Joanne is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.