Today’s Side Note is in response to some of the comments and messages that I’ve had from my American readers. When I began writing Empire Road I was touring circus shows to regional Australia and spending up to thirty weeks a year in the regions. Anyone who’s driven across the countryside in Australia will be able to testify to the sheer volume of dead kangaroos that litter the freeways, against a backdrop of endless gumtrees and brown dirt. Therefor it is without much surprise to learn that the backdrop for Empire Road in part comes from my own life experiences in that way, along with the supporting cast of a travelling circus.
I mention this because it gives an understanding of how and why I wrote Empire Road in the that way I did, and it also let’s me explain a little bit about why I didn’t choose to set it anywhere else. So far I’ve had about 1000 followers from America follow the Facebook page for Empire Road, which truly surprised me. And that said, it has raised a further question more than once by my American readers about how they approach the story. The first message I had was from a reader in Oklahoma, who asked how it was possible for Alexis to fight kangaroos, and for the people of New Haven to make up so much of their diet from kangaroo meat. His message finished with “how would it be possible for any city to transport that many kangaroos here without international shipping facilities…”. The simple answer is that the story isn’t set in America. On the flip side, I’ve had several other very encouraging messages from American, English and even one Mexican readers who have not been put off by the location setting of the story at all.
The other thought that was sent to me since the last Side Note on Empire Road was to do with the character of May. As a reader I enjoy strong female figures in the stories I read. And I am entirely aware that May appears in this part of Empire Road to be somewhat of a damsel in distress. And although this is known to me, there is more to come with May. However, in the earlier parts of this story she is only a teenager, and still as a person establishing herself much the same way that Elijah is.
Thanks again for the incredibly encouraging messages, and I look forward to any other thoughts that any of you want to send across. I will be posting another side note each week to address any questions you have and I look forward to hearing of your thoughts.