Flying Through Clouds

Michelle Morgan’s latest YA novel was published in April this year and she has been working her way up the highway from her home at Bowral, promoting the book all the way to Queensland.

Her tour is almost a metaphor for the short hops that the early aviators undertook, those intrepid flyers like Smithy and Bert Hinkler, whose flying machines were basically plywood and canvas constructions.

Michelle’s inspiration for this book came from a visit to a small museum at Gerringong on the South Coast of NSW, where she read hand written accounts and saw photos taken by locals of the landing of Kingsford Smith’s plane on 7 Mile Beach in 1933.  ‘Seeing those items convinced me,’ she said, ‘I felt a tingling in my spine and knew that I felt compelled to write this story’.

It is a historical novel set in the 1930s and focusses on two major historical events, the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1932 and the landing of Smithy’s plane at Gerringong in 1933.

Michelle undertook extensive research to ensure accurate details about life in the Depression years as well as doing her best to find out about how to fly a Gypsy Moth plane, without actually ever going up in one. She interrogated pilots, watched You tube videos and accessed the wealth of information that is on the Trove site.

Michelle’s first novel ‘Racing the Moon’ was published by Allen and Unwin in 2014 but she decided to publish the second book herself. At a talk at Muswellbrook Library this week (in my ‘hood of the Upper Hunter Valley of NSW)  Michelle explained the process of self publishing, from finding a Structural Editor and a Copy editor, then a Publishing house and the important book designer who also designs the cover.

I first met Michelle when we both attended a seminar more than a year ago at the NSW Writers Centre on ‘The Business of being a Writer’. There were presentations by actual real life agents, publishers, PR people and a financial advisor for the Arts.

Michelle already had her first novel but was preparing to meet all the parameters for self publishing her second one. I found her very inspiring and after that day I set about creating my website, author platform, printing cards and joining FB pages and writer’s sites like the ASA and SCWBI.

I still find her inspiring as I follow her solo journey with her new baby, her second novel, as she works her way up the coast from Kiama, Nowra, to Quirindi and Armidale then to Brisbane and back down the cost through Lismore, Grafton and Taree, talking at libraries and bookshops.

Michelle is already working on the drafts of her next novel as well as a full length play and I hope that in November this year, she can attend the Scone Literary Festival, either on a panel or running a writing workshop for teenagers.