I'm taking April off to write poetry and edit (I'm an editor by day, working for a publishing company). I'm pondering my next book, though, which will be a crime novel set in Sydney in the late 1920s/early 1930s. The main character will be Harold Chesterfield, who is in On Jacaranda Street.
Although I'm pretty familiar with Sydney in the early-to-mid 1920s - thanks to my research for On Jacaranda Street - you can never do enough research, in my view. Because Harold's novel will be set in the late 1920s/early 1930s, I have started reading up on that time period, particularly about the razor gangs in Sydney. But I've been sidetracked. By Fascism.
Everything I've been reading talks about the New South Wales Premier of the time (Jack 'Big Fella' Lang), who served as Premier twice: 1925 to 1927 and again from 1930 to 1932. He was in the thick of dealing with the Great Depression, the rise of Fascism in Australia (the Old Guard and New Guard paramilitary movements), and, of course, he had the cutting of the ribbon for the opening of the Harbour Bridge snatched away from him in 1932 (thanks to Captain Francis de Groot, who was a member of the New Guard).
Of great fascination to me: there was a plot by the New Guard to kidnap Lang. It didn't happen, but I can't help wondering what the response might have been had Lang been kidnapped. Civil war? Installation of a dictatorship? This has led me down the path of considering an alternate history novel.
The New Guard held rallies at Sydney's Town Hall that were broadcast over the radio. Charles Kingsford Smith was a member, and the movement had arms stashed around the city. Eric Campbell led the New Guard and was a solicitor living in Turramurra on Sydney's upper North Shore. I was born and raised in Pymble, next suburb over, and a relative of mine attended a St. Ives rally where Campbell ranted against the perceived socialist policies of Lang. (Fun fact: I went to Pymble Public School, the very same school as Hugh Jackman, alas, not in his year or class).
That relative is long gone, but I recall my family talking about him. I don't know if he was a member of the New Guard or merely attended the St. Ives rally out of interest, but I'm beginning to form the plot for my Harold Chesterfield novel. Once again, another one of my relatives may contribute to my book.
My dilemma is . . . well, you'll find out in my next post!