Nothing much happens in the small Australian town of Sunset Point, which is just the way the locals like it. So when an outsider with grand plans threatens to demolish an iconic local landmark and build a huge resort, the battle lines are drawn.
Young journalist Jessica hopes to make it big with her coverage of the court case, but first she has to appease her editor and put a human interest spin on the situation. At first glance, the five people she chooses to background have little in common – but it soon becomes apparent that staying at The Beach House has changed all of them in some way.
In telling the stories of Kate, Simone, Tom, Clare and Jack, Jessica too learns some important life lessons.
“I thoroughly enjoyed this book and was delighted with the coming together of people from all walks of life.”
“The author has the great ability to describe characters in a ‘real’ way. You seem to know them. You almost have the feeling you’re staying in the beach house with them and that’s what I loved so much about this book.”
“It just shows us how connected we all are.”
CIR: What inspired you to write this book?
McKENNA: I have always loved the beach, and I also love Queenslander houses (especially the older style), so it seemed like a natural fit to combine the two. I wanted to combine that with the magic of a holiday – when you are on vacation the ‘real’ world seems so far away and in that little bubble you believe all your problems can be solved. (Note – Queenslander houses are a particular style of architecture popular in the Australian state of Queensland. They are constructed entirely of timber and are designed to fit with the warm climate.)
CIR: What was the writing process like for your book?
McKENNA: Well, I would have to say lengthy! It took the better part of ten years to get it written. I would work on it a while, then decide it was terrible and put it away for months – then drag it out again and work on it a bit more. Finally I decided I needed to either do something with it or just forget all about it. Once I had a manuscript assessment done and realised it was worth pursuing, it still took a further year of hard work (between working a day job) to get it ready for publication. In saying that though, I loved the whole process and learnt so much from it all.
CIR: Are any of the characters like you or somebody you know?
McKENNA: Due to the format of this book there are several main characters and I must admit there are elements of me in each of them. Also, while none of the characters are based directly on people I know, there are some who are a combination of the personality traits of friends/family members.
CIR: What do you hope readers will get out of this book?
McKENNA: That while we all have “issues” in our life, there are always people who can help you sort through them – sometimes people you don’t expect. Also, that you can heal past hurts if you’re willing to work through them.
Learn more about Helen McKenna and her writing at helenmckenna.com.au