After two weeks with only occasional, very brief (and expensive) internet access, I’m now back home and trying to catch up!
Our trip didn’t turn out quite as we’d planned it. On the third day, we arrived in Innamincka, in the north-east South Australian area of the Outback, just as it began to rain. Innamincka is a tiny town, with probably about 5 permanent residents, and all roads leading into it are dirt, hundreds of kilometres long, and with no such conveniences as bridges or even causeways across the many creek beds, which can fill rapidly after rain. The rain came down quite heavily for an hour, and we watched from the porch of our little cabin while the guy from the shop drove up to the large road status sign on the road out of town and changed all the ‘road open’ signs to ‘road closed’ – which meant that no-one could get in, or out, of town.
To cut a long story short, along with about 150 other tourists, including a bus with 18 seniors, we were stranded in Innamincka for a week. After the second night, we had to move from the 2-’bedroom’ cabin we were sharing with the couple we were travelling with into a motel-style unit – yes, it was somewhat crowded with four adults, but fortunately we’re good friends!! The hotel had plenty of food (and beer, not that we put much of a dent in that supply!) so the experience wasn’t too daunting, although by day 7 we were starting to suffer from cabin fever – there’s only so many walks that one can go on around ‘town’.
All in all, it was something of an experience, and we had the opportunity to get to know some of the people we were stranded with, which was great. My writer’s imagination received plenty of inspiration to play with, as well as ‘research’ data about the realities of such outback situations. A week after we arrived, we were finally permitted to leave on the one passable road out of town, the convoy of vehicles escorted by a police vehicle, to ensure that everyone drove carefully on the very boggy roads and the creek crossing which was still up. That road took us back along the route we’d come, but since the road south we’d planned to take was going to be closed for days longer, we had to give up the plans for the rest of our trip and improvise – so we saw a number of Queensland outback towns and areas instead of South Australian ones!
One of the upsides of a week of enforced idleness was a chance to do some reading – fortunately I’d taken four books with me from my TBR pile. I’ve now filled some more gaps in my romance-genre experience by reading (finally!) Laura Kinsale’s Flowers from the Storm and Nora Roberts’ Naked in Death, and have increased my sampling of more recent releases by reading Nora’s Angels Fall and Anna Campbell’s Claiming the Courtesan.
I love the fact that my reading now counts as ‘research’
Which brings me to a question – given that a researcher should be well-read in the genre, what books do you think a romance researcher should be familiar with? What books or authors would you suggest represent the various aspects of the genre – classics, ground-breakers, standard-bearers, or good examples of various sub-genres?