Shortlisted for the 2015 CILIP Carnegie Medal - One of our Books of the Year 2014 - Shortlisted for The Little Rebels Children's Book Award 2014 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. ~ Julia Eccleshare
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.”