The January Stars
The plot of The January Stars is quite simple. While their parents and brother are away dealing with a family emergency, Clancy and Tash accidentally kidnap their grandfather from his aged care facility, and take him on a road trip to find him somewhere better to live. Along the way, Clancy becomes convinced that the spirit of their grandmother is guiding them, and the adventure ends up drawing together a family that has drifted apart.
The genesis of the story was my own father's stroke, five years ago, which left him paralysed on the right side and living with aphasia, which means, in his case, that he can read and understand speech, but can't speak (apart from a handful of involuntary words) or write. So he is in very much the same situation as Pa -- except that he is much better off than Pa, as he still has my mum.
The single hardest aspect of the COVID-19 emergency for my family has been that Dad's home has a strict ban on all visitors. Usually my parents spend every day together, either at Bill's home or at our place. Now their only real contact is a nightly FaceTime call, which is a lot better than nothing, but still not enough.
So while in one way it has been absolutely terrible timing to have a new book out, in some ways it's a perfect book for the weird and stressful times in which we find ourselves. It's about pulling together (and pushing -- wheelchair joke there); it's about family and taking care of elderly, vulnerable relatives; it's about community; and it's about travel, which is something we're not allowed to do at the moment.
I've been getting some lovely feedback about The January Stars already. If the virus hadn't happened, I would have had a launch this weekend. I'm really hoping that when this is all over, I can still have that launch, and that my Mum and Dad can both be there. Fingers crossed.