In early 2012 I announced that I had begun work on a new novel, to be called The Pilgrims, and that the undertaking of this task had been a response to enthusiasm from two people connected with a Beijing magazine for which I was doing some work at the time. My Chinese friends were Xiao Ping, editor of the Australian issue of World Literature, and Chen Shubo, who translated my story Escape into Mandarin for the magazine. I felt I owed these friends something and, as I say elsewhere on this site, I cast my mind around for a suitable theme. This, when I found it, took me back to my days as a teacher in Gippsland (eastern Victoria), when I was exploring the mountains as often as I could. I remembered very fondly my visits to Briagalong to see Bill Gillio, founder and leader of some mountain tours in the period circa 1925 – 1940. The Pilgrims took shape with astonishing rapidity, was finished in three months, and is now presented on this website for the first time.
What will I do next? It might be said that The Pilgrims attempts something which was latent in my work as a young man but lay outside my range or scope at the time when I was writing my first published book, Hail & Farewell! An Evocation of Gippsland, which contains references to both the characters and the locales of this latest novel. This provided me with a guide for a new work which will also be based on a previous one: I am thinking of the 1984 novella At The Window which ends with the central character, Carol, closing behind her the door of the Sydney apartment where she has been going through a change of life. Closing the door brings one stage of her life to an end but it makes it possible for her to start a new one. What will the rest of her life be like? This will be the matter of my next novel, and I will begin it at the moment and place where At The Window ended.