The Middle of Nowhere by Geraldine McCaughrean

The Middle of Nowhere

Written by Geraldine McCaughrean

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October 2013 Book of the Month Award-winning Geraldine McCaughrean captures a far off landscape and a far off time in her fabulously dramatic nineteenth century story interwoven with the magic of the mysterious and stories of the Aboriginal Dreamtime. With its large and flamboyant cast, McCaughrean proves yet again what a dazzling story teller she is. When Comity’s mother dies after she is bitten by a tiger snake, Comity is left with her father who is the operator of the remote telegraph station. Apart from the two of them there are a few labourers and Fred, an Aboriginal boy who helps around the station. He is her only friend and, as her father sinks into despair leaving her to do everything – including keeping her mother’s relatives at bay - she turns to Fred for support. To comfort her he offers her the stories and magic of his long dead ancestors. When an assistant arrives to help run the station disaster looms. Comity has long held all the threads together but can she continue to do so? Geraldine McCaughrean handles a vast landscape and a varied cast with her usual aplomb.

Geraldine McCaughrean on The Middle of Nowhere:
“I rather enjoy being alone, but that’s because I don’t have to be. I have a choice. Reading a snippet about the Overland Telegraph Wire, I wondered at the lonely existence of those telegraphers coaxing Morse messages over the endless miles. To someone like me living on a small, overcrowded island, Australia’s empty vastnesses are almost unimaginable. And yet in their determination to stay in touch with each other, people defeated those great distances with the Wire. (We take communications technology for granted these days, but we shouldn’t).

My first mental image (and there’s always a picture at the beginning) was of a knitter sitting with coloured wool stretching out in every direction, knitting a rainbow. That would be my hero, sitting at a telegraph machine, totally isolated but connected to hundreds of lives. Meddling, probably. The difference between loneliness and being alone seemed to be in there somewhere, as a theme.
Then I started to read up on my subject. (Goodness I love History: people leading such different lives from now and yet preoccupied with exactly the same things.) And there it all ways – just like now – prejudice, hatred and ignorance dividing people from each other more effectively than any wilderness. Another theme – and the tension necessary to power a story.

I never know, until I start writing, quite where a book will take me. So I tend to just jump aboard and go along for the ride: I like surprises. Then it is just a matter of knitting it all into a rainbow, sewing in the loose ends and discovering how it has turned out. Hope it fits.”


The Middle of Nowhere by Geraldine McCaughrean

When Mary Pinny dies from a snakebite, she leaves her young daughter, Comity, and husband Herbert in the Middle of Nowhere. As Stationmaster of the Kinkindele Repeater Station, Herbert Pinny takes great pride in his job; receiving morse messages and passing them down the Wire to the rest of Australia and beyond. But Comity dreams of a different life - where her mother is alive and she has her own horse and a new piano - and sends letters to her grandmother and her snooty aunt full of colourful tales of her imaginary life. That is, until the new station assistant, Quartz Hogg, arrives and brings Comity and her father sharply back down to earth.


Praise for Geraldine McCaughrean

“Geraldine McCaughrean is an awe-inspiring writer with a miraculous talent for bringing to life past times and faraway lands.” Sunday Telegraph

“Everything Geraldine McCaughrean touches turns to gold.” Sunday Times

“McCaughrean is one of the greatest living children’s authors.” The Bookseller

About the Author

Geraldine McCaughrean

It’s over 30 years now since I first got published, and 50 since I discovered how writing carried me out of my little, everyday world, wherever I chose – way back in Time, to far distant shores, towards my own, home-made happy ending. I write adventure, first and foremost, because that’s what I enjoyed reading as a child. But since I have published over 160 titles now, there are books are every taste and age among them – gorgeously illustrated picture books, easy-readers, prize winners, teenage books and five adult novels (soon to be freshly released as ebooks).

Teen novel The White Darkness won the Printz Award in the USA, which, for this Englishwoman was an amazing, startling thrill. Other prizes have included the Whitbread Children’s Book Award (three times), the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, the Smarties Bronze Award (four times), the Blue Peter Book of the Year Award and the Blue Peter Special Book to Keep for Ever. Although I have only won the much coveted Carnegie Medal once, seven of my titles have been shortlisted for it, the latest being The Middle of Nowhere.

Then there is Peter Pan in Scarlet – official sequel to J M Barrie’s Peter Pan and Wendy, written on behalf of Great Ormond Street Hospital. I won the chance to write that in a worldwide competition, and because Peter Pan is loved everywhere, my book sold worldwide too. It is soon to appear on stage and, just possibly, in the cinema.

I can’t say I expected any of this when, as a child, I dreamed of being like my older brother and ‘getting a book published one day’.

I was born and grew up in Enfield, North London. I trained as a teacher and then worked for ten years in TV and publishing. These days, I am lucky enough just to stay home and write. I have a husband (good at continuity and spelling) and a daughter who is an excellent editor. Having studied at Rada, she is now an actor so, naturally, I have turned my hand to writing plays. (So many actors, so few plays!) Some of my plays are for schools and young people, so you can find them in book form.

My Mum told me, “Never boil your cabbages twice, dear,” which was her way of saying, “Don’t repeat yourself.” So I have tried never to write the same book twice. You’ll find all my novels quite different from one another. I’m afraid that the only way you can find out which ones you like and which you don’t is to read them. Something for everyone, you see, my dear, young, not-so-young, eccentric, middle-of-the-road, poetical, sad, cheerful, timid or reckless reader. All they have in common is that they contain words. If you are allergic to words, you’d best not open the covers.

Geraldine lives in Berkshire with her husband.

Author photo © Brett Williams U.K.

Anne Fine on Geraldine McCaughrean:

'I reckon Geraldine McCaughrean knocks the socks off every other children's writer today. Everything she does is different and everything works – look at her list of prizes. She must write in tremendous bursts. Some years, she's so prolific the rest of us start joking that the fairies come in at night to do her work for her. Then she'll go quiet, so unlike all those writers who are persuaded by their publishers to come up with something every year, no matter how tired or drab. If Geraldine has nothing fresh to write, she doesn't write it.' (The Guardian)

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Book Info


304 pages


Geraldine McCaughrean
More books by Geraldine McCaughrean

Author's Website


Usborne Publishing Ltd

Publication date

1st October 2013




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