I am getting close to finishing Harriet and the Secret Coins. This has been a two-year project, with much research into life in gold rush times in two local areas and interstate in Victoria. Last year I enjoyed visiting the Lambing Flat museum (Young, NSW), the Temora Goldfields museum and the Central Deborah gold mine in Bendigo. My two characters, Harriet Cooper and Will Taylor, find themselves involved in time-slip adventures whilst on a school excursion to visit the gold mining areas for research on a history project. There has always been a strong Chinese connection with our gold mining past, and these locations are no exception. In 1861, riots broke out at Lambing Flat between European and Chinese miners, who were suspected of finding more gold that the European community. The Lambing Flat museum was a fount of information, and there was even some discrepancy between the information available there and information from a family member who grew up in the area. It's all been a fascinating journey. I have been trying to add to the story line, and had an unexpected bonus right at home. My husband has three Chinese figurines which belonged to his late mother. I was studying them recently and noticed that their appearance was like that of three wise men. I went online to research the characters, and discovered that they are actually deities who represent three aspects of life: status, prosperity and longevity. Lu, the god of status, is represented holding a scroll. He was prayed to with the hope that the prayer's career would prosper. Fu, the god of prosperity, is represented holding an interestingly shaped sceptre, and his robes are red, adorned with dragons, and he wears a jade chain. (Very appropriate, given that my helpful dragon character is red.)
He is sometimes depicted with a mountain of gold and silver above his head. Shou, the god of long life, is depicted holding a peach, and is the oldest of the three. Legend has it that he was born old. I have been able to incorporate the three deities into a Chinese grocery store in the Lambing Flat part of the story, sitting on the store owner's counter. Harriet explains to her friend the importance of the gods to the Chinese community. It has all added to my writing, and I love research and discovering new information. I am hoping for a mid-September release of this third novel in the series.