I've reached the final hurdle, and I can't tell you how exciting that is. I'm at around 86,000 words with On Jacaranda Street. I would like to keep this novel at around 95,000, but I still have 20,000 or so to go. I'll write until it's The End, then worry about it. I've had to write this novel in large chunks or writing bursts because I've had quite a few editing jobs on the go - novels and poetry chapbooks mainly.
I went through six drafts for Ashgrove Park, so I doubt this next book will be any different. I plan to finish during November and set it aside for December. So...release date will be early 2022 and not late 2021. Oh, well. I'm not one for rapid release of books; better to make sure it's as good as it can be.
But this post is about The Ambassador's, which was located downstairs in The Strand Arcade in Pitt Street, Sydney. Funny to think I spent years shopping in my hometown and The Strand without knowing about The Ambassador's nightclub and restaurant. I knew about Romano's and Princes Restaurant, though - two fine dining establishments of the Depression and post-WWII eras.
I found out through my research that Romano's was opened by Azzalin Romano, who was brought out from Padua, Italy, in 1923 by Percy Stewart Dawson to run The Ambassador's. Dawson was the son of David Stewart Dawson, who owned jewellery stores in Australia, New Zealand and England. After an incident at a Sydney hotel, where Percy was thrown out, he went on to build his own nightclub and restaurant - The Ambassador's. Azzalin later opened his own restaurant, Romano's.
The Ambassador's features in On Jacaranda Street. It is where Jack and Bea first meet Julian Bartholomew, a well-known Sydney art and curio dealer who finds himself accused of murder.
It's been great fun finding out what this restaurant must have been like - it could seat up to 700 guests and featured archways, decorated columns, a large dance floor, and private rooms. The dinnerware used was a signature white porcelain, and guests danced to the jazz of Bert Ralton and his Havana band (who were engaged by Dawson from the London Savoy).
Newspaper accounts from 1923 and 1924 talk about the fashionable clothes worn by Sydneysiders who flocked to The Ambassador's wanting to be seen. I lost myself in all the research, to be honest, but came up for air realising that Harold Chesterfield needs his own spinoff novels. Harold is the loveable Australian kiap or patrol officer who meets Jack and Bea in New Guinea and then comes to Sydney to take up a position as Special Constable at Central Police station. He helps Jack solve the mystery of who killed Ada Gallagher.
Sydney in the 1920s was such a fascinating place - a hotbed of intrigue and crime. I have an idea for a political thriller too, but that might be after I write about Harold's adventures in crime-ridden Sydney of the 1920s and 1930s.