Former Emerald-based author Shirley Eldridge.
Former Emerald-based author Shirley Eldridge.

Shirley's characters step out of CQ mines

STRONG characters of central Queensland were the influence for Shirley Eldridge's latest book Georgie-Girl.

Shirley will launch her book during a tour of central Queensland making a stop in Blackwater on Wednesday, September 28.

"I wanted strong characters and people from central Queensland fit that, it's just the way they speak," she said about the characters in her book.

Shirley said her knowledge of mining communities made the story authentic and laughingly said her husband was her first editor to tell her how the mines operated.

"I used to work in at Emerald and my husband worked in Blackwater and though it has changed since I've been there, I feel a strong connection to a lot of mining and farming communities."

Shirley wrote many of the unique characters based on her time in mining towns, including Eric, a reincarnation of Griffin the pet emu from Moranbah who Alan the ambulance guy adored and the rest of the town loathed.

Also, the Ten-cent Club concept where membership equals a bottle top with the coin hammered in, was the brain-child of Pud from Middlemount.

"I'm certain Georgie-Girl will appeal to all residents in our region with its core set in the heart of Rockhampton as well as Emerald, Moranbah and Middlemount townships," she said.

The main character in Georgie-Girl is psychologist Cherie Dexter, the daughter of the owner of the Merimah Coal Mine.

She is exposed to increasing personal threats while she helps to quell a rising unrest at the mine but her focus is on Georgie-Girl, the unwanted child of local cattle property owners.

Still operating her telephone counselling agency, Cherie is horrified by the unfolding drama of a client, the mother of a paedophile, when her convicted son is released from prison and their situation becomes live television fodder.

The boundaries between Cherie's mine work, her clients and personal life blur, and it's the non-verbal Georgie-Girl who inadvertently brings events to a head.

"There are two sub-plots running through the story so there's a lot happening on every page," she said.

"Georgie-Girl is a sequel to my first book Rocky Girl, when I finished that I thought I would try my hand at fiction."

Shirley said she was already moving on to the next book, with the third of the trilogy running around in her head.

Since she retired in 2005, Shirley now lives in Western Australia.

She spends her writing days in her study, overlooking the Swan River.

"I love staring out at the river and getting ideas - they just grow," she said.

The signing will be held at the Blackwater Newsagency on September 28, at 12.30pm.

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