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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Guest Author: Helene Young

My special guest today is fellow Aussie author, Helene Young. By day she's pilot with a major regional airline here in Australia, but in her spare time she writes romantic suspense for Hachette Australia.

Hi, Helene, thanks for dropping in to answer to a few questions.
Thanks for inviting me, Kylie, it's great to be here. I love your new look website! It's wonderfully evocative. (Thanks!)

One of the first things I noticed while reading your blog is your love for Australia. You talked about magpies, beaches, the Sydney to Hobart Yatch race, possums (in hobnail boots), and the places you’ve lived or visited. Do you have an absolute, will-always-love, favourite part of Australia? Are you a city or country girl?
I'm a water lover, be that in the city, the country or on the coast. Sailing, swimming, drifting on water, in lakes, oceans or rivers, would be my favourite place but then... I love the outback and the colour of the earth. And then there's the ancient mountains and the endless deserts. Confused? So am I...

I lived in the UK for three years back in the mid 80's. (I brought home my very own souvenir who's still my husband.) Like a lot of Aussies, while I loved England, I developed a new appreciation of the diverse and wonderful Australian landscape. Absence really brings home how fortunate we are to live here. I just need to find the time to go exploring more than just the eastern half!

Your job as a pilot takes you all over Australia but have you ever been abroad? Where would you most like to visit?
I've been to a few place overseas - mainly Europe, but I think my most amazing trip was to Antarctica  on a 26 day cruise into McMurdo Sound. The immense power of the land and its silence was amazing. The historic huts were literally frozen in time and you got such a clear sense of what enormous hardship those early explorers faced.

Africa is on my must see list, but so's Canada, Argentina, USA, Portugal, Iceland, Borneo, more of New Zealand... So if I could just win lotto and take off travelling that would be great! Any hints on the numbers?

How special your Antarctica trip sounds. I hope you took some memorable pictures! Maybe you might be able to make the RWNZ conference this year - you'll be able to tick NZ off on that list :-) .
Have your work colleagues been supportive of your second career as a published author?

For the main part, my colleagues have been supportive (there are always exceptions...). Of course, working predominantly with men means there's the usual comments -'So are there sex scenes in this book of yours?' I can just see them reading it, then looking at me sidewards with that, 'We know what you do in bed' look...

And you can't convince people that the story is purely a work of fiction...

You had a solid contest resume before publishing with Hachette Australia – placing in the Emma Darcy Award & RWNZ Strictly Single, a finalist in the RWAmerica Golden Heart & RWAustralia STALI competitions. What was your purpose for entering contests?
Contests, wonderful contests! The feedback was an addiction. It didn't matter whether it was good, bad or very ugly, (and I got some of that :-D) the reader's reaction was important. It gave me confidence to keep writing. The critiques could be quite confronting, but that toughened me up for rejections and also the editing process. They also taught me an enormous amount about my craft and where my voice actually fitted. The time some judges took to explain clearly what they meant was humbling. I hope when I've judged comps I've managed to do the same. There are some wonderful fledgling voices out there just waiting to fly.

And we hope to see you up on the stage for the Golden Heart in 2010! (Now that would be an achievement!)

Ahh, nice to see another contest junkie! But seriously, yes, you can't beat that valuable feedback! And speaking of feedback - do you belong to critique group or have a critique partner? How have you developed your skills as a writer?
I had a go at a crit partnership which was disastrous. It left me battered enough that I didn't write for a month. She had very strong opinions...

So I went back to what I've always done.  I write my first draft, give it to my husband who reads it for the big picture, and then to my sister who does a more detailed fault-find. The wonderful Bernadette Foley, my publisher, also looked at the first draft for my second book and has given me some great advice (as well as the thumbs up, which is a huge relief!!).

I always love the RWA conferences and the wonderful sessions they offer.  A veritable forest of light bulbs illuminate in my brain. I haven't read many of the 'How To' books but probably should - especially the grammar and punctuation kind!
 
I notice you don’t have an agent. Is that a deliberate decision on your part or are you actively looking for one?
I have an agent waiting (hopefully) in the wings. I was fortunate enough to get my contract with Hachette without an agent - by pitching at an RWA conference - but I have had discussions with one for future books. The collective wisdom seems to be that they will help you with your career in total, rather than just the books you currently write. 

The cover of BORDER WATCH is visually appealing. Not only is the setting gorgeous but I liked that your title and name are so clear. Did you have any input into the design? Do you know if the sea theme will follow through on the covers of your trilogy?
The cover's beautiful isn't it? Hachette designed it and I love it! I did have some input because we needed to get the right aircraft type (and they have) but I thought it caught the spirit of North Queensland perfectly. The next cover is a similar concept, but the colours are different. They're Lauren's colours and she's all sunlight and gold. 

I can't wait to see that cover, Helene, it sounds great! It'll be a good example of branding when they follow through with that cover style. Besides the BORDER WATCH trilogy you’re writing, have you started developing any ideas for future books? What will they involve?
I do have several other books which I'd love to see on the shelves one day. North Queensland will feature prominently for a couple more, but then I've had an idea bubbling around since we stopped at Macquarie Island on the way home from Antarctica!

Promo time! Tell me about BEYOND THE BORDERS, the next book in your series coming out in 2011.
BEYOND THE BORDERS is Lauren's story. She's a secondary character in BORDER WATCH who has to deal with a great tragedy. Now a captain herself, she uncovers an operation trafficking in women for the sex slave trade.  As she heads deep into the Australian wilderness she’ll need the reluctant help of a Navy Patrol Boat captain, Callam Granger, who’s already demonstrated his contempt for her. Ultimately she'll have to outwit, outrun and outfly the traffickers before she'll earn his respect and free the women.

Helene, thanks again for being my guest! It’s been great having you here.
It's been fabulous, Kylie!


And all the best for your next release BEYOND THE BORDERS!

Take a look and discover more about Helene and her books by checking out her website www.heleneyoung.com

Helene's generously giving away a copy of BORDER WATCH to one lucky person - all you have to do is leave a comment and tell her about your favourite place in Australia and why she should visit it.
Comments close 3pm (Aust.Daylight Savings Time), Sunday 7th Feb. The lucky person will be announced here - Tuesday, 9th Feb.

80 comments:

  1. Kylie, what a great interview. Helene, I'm so excited about Border Watch finally hitting the stands. I feel like I've been waiting forever - ever since we sat next to each other as finalists at the last Emma Darcy Award presentation! Congratulations, my friend, you so deserve this. Love the stories of your travels. I'd LOVE to go to Antarctica. I actually really like bleak and windswept scenery which a lot of people I know just don't get. Magpies forever! ;-)

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  2. Great interview guys! Can't wait to read both books Helene, and inspiring to know there are other people out there-- punctuation-ly challenged!!!! like me!
    I love Far North Queensland too- miss Townsville terribly!
    So fantastic to see a great new Aussie author about to be launched into centre stage!
    Places to visit? hmm I don't really know- I want to go and explore the other side of Aus too- so i'm no help!
    You could come down and visit Macksville... why? well because I'm here!!!! :)

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  3. Holy Early Riser, Anna! :-)

    Glad you could make it over here to visit and read all about Helene and her new book.

    Antarctica WOULD be an interesting place to visit, eh? The pristine, crisp environment would be beautiful.

    Hey, maybe Helene could give you some travel info on how to get there!

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  4. Karly, it's great to have you pop in. The far north coast of Qld is a great place to visit.

    I have fond memories of Townsville and a little place called Balgal Beach. I went out to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef with a friend during my time there. Something I'll never forget.

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  5. Ha, I've decided Anna doesn't sleep! Thanks for all your support - the EDA seems a very distant memory. Meanwhile I've been reading all your fabulous books and hoping my turn would come and now it finally has! Yeah!! The Antarctica was very special - I hope I can find the words to describe it when I do finally write that story. The journey to get there involved four days of open ocean - and that's the great southern ocean with it's wild weather and huge seas. For a couple of days the bridge deck was almost deserted. That was when I realised I could have gone to sea for a career. It was every bit as awesome as flying!

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  6. Karlene thanks for dropping by. And congrats on your own upcoming release!

    We do overnights in Townsville and I can't believe how much the city is changing - more trendy little cafes, houses filling all available hill slopes, the wonderful Strand development along the foreshore. It's shrugging off it's nickname of Mt Isa-by-the-sea.

    And Macksville is very close to Nambucca Heads which means you have great surf! That makes me very jealous. If Cairns had surf then it would indeed be paradise!!

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  7. Great interview, Helene and Kylie. I loved hearing about your writing journey, Helene, and am very jealous of your Antarctica trip. I'd LOVE to go there. The cover of Border Watch is absolutely stunning, too.

    As for my favourite place in Australia and why you should visit, that's a hard one! There's so many places I adore. But perhaps Port Arthur in Tasmania. It's beautiful, horrible, eerie and utterly fascinating, with a tragic history that stretches through to modern times. It's the sort of place you can't help but be affected by.

    Wishing you all the best with Border Watch and Beyond the Borders.

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  8. Helene, wow, you put so much atmosphere even into that short description of your Antarctic trip! There was a wonderful essay Helen Garner wrote about her visit to Antarctica which is well worth hunting out - the descriptions were just beautiful.

    Cathryn, I visited Port Arthur before the horrible shootings there and even then, it was an eerie, atmospheric place. It was a stormy day but even so, you definitely felt that troubled, tragic history everywhere you went. Unlike anywhere else I can think of. And somehow the spectacular scenery just made it more haunting.

    I've got so many favorite places in Australia but somewhere that springs to mind immediately is the Margaret River coast in WA. Unbelievably beautiful!

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  9. Hi Helene, nice to learn more about your life and writing. Love the cover of Border Watch and I look forward to reading it. TBR piles are daunting!

    A place that keeps drawing me back because I just LOVE walking along 'forever' surf beaches would have to be the Great Ocean Road on the Victorian south coast, 3 hours from where I live in the country. It stretches from Torquay to almost Warrnambool and ducks inland briefly after Apollo Bay but is stunning coastal scenery all the way. My absolute favourite part of it is Frenchman's [endless] Beach at Moggs Creek which is fabulous for blokart sailing when an onshore wind is up. :)

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  10. Hi Cathryn, good to see you here!

    Tasmania, and it's convict history, has always drawn me, but I've yet to wander down south. Much to my dismay I've travelled more overseas than in my own country (hanging head in shame).

    My sister and some of my friends who have been to Port Arthur have mentioned the same thing about the eerie feelings they felt while visiting. An unhappy place, in the past and present day, and if one believed in ghosts then maybe that's what they could have sensed?!?

    Perhaps some of my time this year could be spent visiting some of these places you guys are suggesting for Helene! :-)

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  11. Noelene, the Great Ocean Road and your description of it sounds gorgeous. Sigh. Blokart sailing? I'm afraid I'm not sure what this is. I'm guessing it's a billy cart with a sail? Is it THAT windy down there? Wow!

    Oh, and the TBR piles, I sooo know about those. Thanks for dropping in Noelene!

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  12. Hi Cathryn, Port Arthur, and more of Tasmania, is definitely on my travel list. Its tragic history, on so many levels, is fascinating in a macabre kind of way. We only had a brief look at Hobart when we returned from Antarctica.

    Thanks for the tip Anna, I'll seek out Helen Garner's essay!

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  13. Noelene, glad you like the cover!

    We had a wonderful holiday meandering along the Great Ocean Road. I know what you mean about long walks on beaches. You set off and you can see tiny figures in the distance but you never catch up and that leaves you in your own little world with nothing but footprints. Love it!

    And Blokart sailing sounds like fun!!

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  14. Hi Helene,
    It's great to find out more about other writers. And I do love that cover. I can't wait to see it. (I'm not here for the comp as I have alreay won a copy of Border Watch) :) YAH!

    My favourite place in Australia. Now that is a hard question. The Whitsunday Islands. I also like the outback with it's array of colours, gorges and swimming holes. But if I had to choose-give me the deep blue any day.

    Great Interview Helene and Kylie, throughly enjoyed it.

    All the best, Helene. :)

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  15. Hi Suzanne, no reason why you can't win another copy! You'll have a pressie for a friend then ;-)

    Yes, the Whitsundays will always have a special place in my heart since I was sat on the back deck of a yacht in Nara Inlet when the call came in from Bernadette Foley offering me a contract with Hachette. That trip the sky was more blue, the islands more spectacular and the the reefs more enchanting than ever before!! I may, of course, just be biased...

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  16. Hi Helene and Kylie,
    Thanks for letting us into your own little world Kylie and for being a great hostess. As an ex Townsville/Cairns girl I've seen that scene on Helene's book cover numerous times (ex the 300 in full-on attitude) and I think Hatchett did an exceptional job of getting it right. Favourite place in Australia? Sorry, impossible to have just one. First would be my husband and my home, second my Mum and Dad's home, third Lord Howe Island. What a magnificent place! Two weather forming mountains dominating the scenery (one that can be climbed with a guide), the southern most coral reef in Australia in a sheltered, island spotted lagoon of crystal water. A great surf beach on the eastern side facing the great blue Pacific - the swells that come in there are awesome! Hiking trails all over the lush grassy and treed hills. NO mobile reception. The place we stay at doesn't even have TV. You can sit around all day and catch up on the TBR pile, go swimming, walk on sandy beaches or over afore mentioned trails, have BBQs, play golf, the kids can be let free for the day without worry. Watching the sun go down over the water is also a novel experience for a Queenslander. One of the great things about Lord Howe is the fact that there is a limited number of people allowed on the island at any one time - and yes they even have a great coffee shop. It's an amazinlgy inspirational and spiritual place. As you can probably guess my husband and I are repeat offenders.
    As for Tasmania, the Tamar Valley comes in fourth on my list, in fact we've already decided that's retirement country. After I read "For the Term of His Natural Life" I'm afraid, being such a sensitive woos, I knew I couldn't go there and had no wish to. I think the absolute horridness of mans inhumanity to man has left a permanent stain that has corrputed even the spirit of the land there. So sad.
    Eugh! Sorry to end on such a sombre note.

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  17. Hi Helene,
    Mega congrats on launching your wonderful book! I have been intrigued by your story ever since I first read about it on ROMAUS. I can't wait to read it! (and then your second book)

    Loved learning a bit more about you.

    I think Victoria's Great Ocean Road is amazing. It leads you to many varied locations - the most serene are the Twelve Apostles just east of Port Campbell. Unfortunately a couple of them have fallen into the ocean, but still a wonderful spot.

    Thanks for having Helene here as your guest, Kylie. (And, yes Helene, I've worked out that Anna never sleeps!)

    Hugs

    Serena
    etatti@bigpond.net.au
    http://go.to/serenatatti
    http://www.melbournerwg.com
    Find us on facebook http://tinyurl.com/yhmtbf2

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  18. Hi Helene and Kylie - I loved your interview and I'm looking forward to having Helene over at my blog next month (an unashamed plug there!)

    I do love the cover of Border Watch - I'm told 90% of readers buy on the cover, so obviously yours is going to fly off the shelves, Helene!

    Kylie I haven't read much of your genre, but I've enjoyed looking around your blog so I'll looking out for your books in the future.

    As for a place to visit, I'd love to head north to the top of WA and NT.

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  19. P.S. Forgot to add that punctuation (and spelling and grammar) can be learnt. Voice is a gift.

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  20. Hey Sandy, Lord Howe Island is definitely high on my list. And how cool is it - you have to fly in a Dash 8 to get there!! The lack of mobile phone appeals enormously but I suspect I'll get withdrawals for the first few days.. Have iphone permanently strapped to my hand at the moment.

    I know what you mean about the spirit of the land being corrupted. On parts of Norfolk Island I swore I heard voices whispering and there was a melancholy lilt to the sound of the wind through the trees - like a lament.

    Ooh and now we're both being sombre...

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  21. Hi Serena, The Twelve Apostles are spectacular. Sad to see another one has been eroded away and it made me wonder what would be left in a hundred years. I can hear a mother trying to explain the name to a recalcitrant 6 yr old...
    We have a coastal road from Cairns to Port Douglas that is very beautiful and I expected something similar for the Great Ocean Road. Instead it blew me away! I remember standing there and smelling the air thinking that it had blown all the way from Antarctica.

    And you're right - spelling and punctuation can be learned. If all else fails the wonderful Ali Lavau will fix it during the edit!!

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  22. Fleur I hope you're right! Am looking forward to blogging with you next month - I'll be hyperactive by then, after the launch! Hopefully I'll get to hold the finished product in my hands next week. Yeahhh!

    We're off to Darwin at the end of our trip to Europe in April - easier coming home to Cairns that way - and GW wants to go fishing, so I'll get to see some of the Top End's coastline which will be fabulous!

    Next week's guest on my blog is Toni Tapp Coutts - a Catherine writer who's born and bred in the Northern Territory. Her voice is amazing, her stories intense and I'm sure she's been sculptured by the landscape.

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  23. My favourite place in Australia is Noosa. We were married in Noosa on the beach almost 3 years ago, and we are heading back there for our wedding anniversary. It is so nice to just lie on the beach there all day or walk the National Park, and then saunter down for a cocktail or something to eat at night. Bliss!

    Soraya

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  24. Helene, you're going to have trouble narrowing down your itinerary for your next trip with all these suggestions from everyone - Australia is so diverse and unique in many of its environments!

    Suzanne, Helene's right, try winning a second copy of BORDER WATCH for a friend. Nothing beats recommending a book you like to someone else.

    Sandra, wow, your holiday spot sounds idyllic! How nice to be without modern technology and only a TBR pile, sitting somewhere shady...

    Serena, we might have to slip a sleeping pill into Anna's morning beverage if we're ever going to stand a chance of beating her to the punch on blog comments :-)

    Fleur, good on you for giving your interview a plug (hehe, it's something I've done too). And thanks for taking a look at my website, appreciate it!
    I agree with you that covers can make a difference when looking at a book. It's something that initially attracts you into picking it up - and who could resist such a stunning cover as the one on BORDER WATCH??? The colour of the ocean is beautiful!
    Kakadu and Darwin are places in the NT that people have recommended to me as places you must see if you get up there. Haven't heard a lot about the top end of WA other than it has mines?!?

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  25. Soraya, I know Noosa well and you're right it IS a lovely place for spending time lying on the beach doing nothing but watching the tanned, buff surfers ... umm, I mean the crowd go by. :-)

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  26. Noosa! Ah, Soraya, the days of the Noosa Kitchen and the caravan park at the end... sigh...

    A girlfriend and I met a flasher on the way to Hell's Gates - we were about 16 at the time - and I can't go for a walk round that way without smiling to myself. I know I shouldn't think it's funny - he clearly needed help - but to a couple of teenagers it was hysterical. I can't remember my friend's smart remark, but the flasher fled with his tail between his legs (so to speak!).

    It's a very different spot now! You're so right - lovely to wander, and laze, and graze on the wonderful food!

    Kylie, I've given myself a hard choice this week. Sure you don't want to be the judge???

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  27. Like others that have posted here, I too have many favourite places in this island nation!
    So..aside from the east coast, one of my favourite areas is Alice Springs. Alice is an amazing desert community. The land is full of colour and life.. and then the rains come - transforming the land and awakening birds, fish & plant life, bringing an abundance of food to the Wilpiri people - who are a fantastic mob to meet as their culture is so different to those of the Top End and Cape York country.
    I look forward to the launch of your book, Helene. All the best,
    Kerry

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  28. Hi Kerry, thanks for dropping by. I've not explored the country round Alice at all, but everyone who's been there says it's truly amazing.

    Poet, Meg Mooney, who was at Varuna with me, lives there and her poems about The Gap are brilliant. She distills the essence of life in the desert into wonderful sparse poems. Just beautiful.

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  29. Okay, I'm trying. :) My mother would love a copy. I showed her this website this morning, and she said that is one book I want to read. :)

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  30. I'm at the other end of Australia - South Australia and while it's a fairly arid landscape in contrast to far north Queensland there are some special places here too. They are not maybe as spectacular or immediately beautiful as the Great Barrier Reef or Sydney Harbour but they have a strong magic. My most favourite place is Kangaroo Island. It's a wilderness/tourism and sheep farming island situated in icy blue Southern Ocean with masses of seals, sea lions and rockpools full of life. There are no foxes or feral cats on the island and so there are plenty of echidnas and smaller mammals as well as kangaroos and koalas. It feels so alive and everywhere you look you can see what the mainland would have looked like before feral predators. There are great bushwalks, windswept lighthouses, eery cemetries, pelicans and views far out to sea. You can fly or put your car on a roll on-roll off ferry with the sheep transports and hold on because it's always a turbulent ride - which is part of the adventure for me. I have a friend, older than me, who was born on the island and remembers the circus coming to the Kangaroo Island and the old ferry approaching the island's harbour with the circus elephant standing sturdily on the deck. I love the place and always want to go back.

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  31. Hi Kylie and Helene, loved reading your interview. I can just tell i'm going to love this book by the way you describe the land Helene.
    I was like that with my book, hence my favourite place in oz is my tiny hometown of Pingaring. I love the sunsets and sunrises and the smell of the eucalyptus in the heat and the way the earth smells after a rain. (i admit it pales in comparison to the tropical north but there are so many special places in this great land of ours!)

    Best of luck to you both! Fee xx

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  32. Fantastic interview ladies. Except for the fact that I'm scared silly of flying, I'd be very jealous of your other life Helene. LOL.

    I'm sure your novel is going to be a great success Helene.

    Best wishes
    Sandie

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  33. Hi Helene and Kylie! Helene, I'm so looking forward to reading Border Watch. As for places to visit, I'm still exploring WA and like Anna I love the Margaret River region (it might have something to do with the wine!) And I'm another one who'd love to visit Antarctica despite being a real wimp when it comes to the chill factor!

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  34. thx Kylie, I've just had a hoot of a time over on Helene's blog last week too. Now I'm following her like a Dash 8 follows a flight path!!!!! I'm taking it as a good omen that my latest short story (can't say too much as it's entered in Gems) features a Dash 8, so I've learned a bit about them (thanks Google). Helene, you are living my dream (flying and being pubbed). Between you and Bron Parry, you've got Austrlaia covered - coast to outback. While i love the coast (living in Coffs) I love the time I spent driving around Oz for two years. The most amazing place was Coober Peedy. You must go the the local hotel where you will find they not only nail the ash trays to the tables,they also nail the tables to the floor!

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  35. Phillipa, Kangaroo Island was supposed to be our last holiday destination but we ended up in the Whitsundays instead! My husband had found a house to rent on the southern side - just a simple holiday cottage, but with the most amazing views. The plan was to take our dog with us (he's an obsessive compulsive staffy who goes nuts in a kennel...) and fly down to Adelaide. Can't remember why the plan changed. Maybe something to do with icy winds in the middle of June??It will have to be re-instated as a destination!

    Love the image of Jumbo and Dumbo standing with their ears flapping peering over the side of a ferry going 'Where was this in our contract of performance...'

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  36. Hi Fiona, what a fabulous name - Pingaring - it has a certain ring to it? Ok, ok it's late and that's a really bad pun... sorry... There's a town in Northern NSW called Tumblegum which used to have a small vehicle ferry to take people across the Tweed River. I loved the name and used to pester my parents to drive there from Currumbin, on the Gold Coast, because I liked the way the word rolled off my tongue... (So I was a strange child!)

    We are very blessed to have so many wonderful places in Australia which such diverse beauty and I know I won't get to see all of them.

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  37. Sandie, thanks for dropping by.

    A strange fact about pilots - many are scared of heights.True story!
    I don't mind heights, but I get claustrophobic in small spaces unless they have big windows (like a cockpit). And many, many people have some fear of flying and so they drink too much. Air rage would almost disappear if alcohol was banned...

    Christina, they give you this really warm coat to wear below the Antarctic Circle and I never felt really cold.

    Well, maybe a little, but that was because I was daft enough to go for a swim! Didn't last long but it was mind blowing diving into something so cold and endlessly deep. Awesome!

    And the Margaret River now has two votes so it can't just be the wine, can it? Love those reds!

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  38. Jenn, good to see you again! Last week was a laugh - my cheeks are still sore! And hope those tails are wagging still - love your profile photo.

    Good luck with the little gems comp - and feel free to ask if you need anything more about the Dashes. They are a wonderful versatile machine and are sooo much fun to fly!

    Between Bron Parry, Fleur and Fiona, the girls have got outback Australia covered. It's wonderful to see books by Australian women writers, about Australian women and set in the Australian landscape!

    Coober Peedy sounds like a strange and wonderful place. Dugout homes, opal miners and intrigue, bar tables nailed to the floor... Will have to get there one day!

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  39. Wow, I go away for eight hours or so and look who comes calling!

    I'd love to explore the top end and in particular Alice Springs. As an amateur photographer I'd be snapping the sunrises and sunsets in and around Alice. This whole describe you best place in Oz reminds me of a Lonely Planet guidebook! Thanks for your suggestion, Kerry!

    Phillipa, the image of a circus troupe, specifically an elephant perched on a ferry, sticks so vividly in my mind! I hope he didn't get seasick - ickk. Kangaroo Island sounds like a nature lovers paradise!

    Fiona,I think the pungent odour of crushed eucalyptus leaves is one of the most unique Aussie smells. Living in the bush, it's one thing I enjoy about walking where I live.

    Hey, Sandie, thanks for dropping by - glad you enjoyed the interview.

    Hello, Christina, great to see you made it on over. My grandparents fondly remember Margaret River and the wine country - they were partial to a drop or two.

    Hi, Jenn, you live near my birthplace - Bellingen! Coffs has its own appeal and one I remember clearly is the lookout over Muttonbird Island! As a treat, our family used to buy Henny Penny then go and sit at the lookout, watch the sunset, point out the ships on the horizon and feed seagulls our leftovers!
    Coober Pedy sounds intriguing - underground everything! And they nail furniture to the floor? Were the guests that bad? :-)

    Well, Helene, what a great day - lots of incredible places marked on your map, many recommendations of what to see while there. Hmm, not an easy task you've set yourself. Well, you have until Sunday to weigh the pro's and con's.

    Thanks everyone for dropping in and saying hi to Helene! I'm glad you enjoyed her interview!

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  40. Hi Helene,

    Great interview!

    One of my most favourite places in Australia is a little town called Maldon. It's very peaceful, and when you walk through the main street, it's like stepping back in time. It's very Olde World.

    The motel we stayed at was furnished in antiques, and added to the atmosphere.

    The entire town is historically listed and has the feel of yesteryear. I was so taken with the place I wrote a novel about it!




    Cheryl

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  41. Great interview Kylie and Helene.

    My favourite place in Australia (and it's a hard battle to pick one)is Lord Howe Island. I've been there twice and I think I could go there forever more... or live there, if they'd let me. It's just beautiful - ocean, mountains, quiet, snorkelling, diving, birds, walking - a real back-to-nature experience.

    Thanks for the great interview and question.
    Cath

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  42. Wow, Maldon must have captured your imagination, Cheryl, to write a story about it! Will have to look it up on google.

    And Catherine, another vote for Lord Howe Island! For such a small island it ticks all the boxes for things to do! Can wear myself out snorkelling, hiking and eating and then relax in one of the wonderful spas. Sounds perfect to me!

    Thanks for dropping by ladies!

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  43. Thanks for having me on your blog, Kylie! I'll have to dig deep for the winner.... A very difficult choice...

    And did I tell you all I'm going home today??? Yeah! After another 5 nights in a hotel I'm Cairns bound and one happy pilot!!

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  44. Thanks for the fabulous interview Helene and Kylie.

    I haven't lived in Australia long, but one place we have visited (and I loved!) was Morton Island. Waking up each morning and stepping straight out of the tent onto a beautiful pristine beach, with the ocean quietly lapping at the shores was incredible. Oh, and snorkeling around the wrecks - to die for!

    Kendra

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  45. Hi, Catherine, Lord Howe sounds like the perfect holiday for the family that wants a bit of everything from the environment to activities to engage in! :-)

    Kendra! Woohoo on getting here, glad you could make it. Snorkeling among the wrecks at Morton Island sounds all mysterious and romantic as well as exciting. Are these wrecks from the World Wars or traders? What's the history behind them? Have they been looted?

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  46. Hi Helene I am looking forward to your book, Bronwyn Parry suggested I keep my eyes open for it and if it anything like hers or Fleur McDonalds I cant wait.
    My favourite place ..to many but I have an additiction to the sea especially in Queensland - Townsville, Caloundra and then the country. I live in country nsw and while we are suffering from the drought it is so interesting to see the change that some rain can bring, When it happens. so dust, rain, flood, green, brown ever changing landscape whats not to love

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  47. Hi Anon!

    Townsville is one place I have spent time in and I loved the laidback country feel to the place. I also remember a great little restaurant on the wharf where I tried crocodile for the first time!

    I hope you return and leave your name!

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  48. Hi Kylie and Helene -
    fantastic interview!
    I think I posted a trifle early so will repost! I've lived in so many places in Australia - all along the East coast, and would love to travel much more! Buchan caves is one little known tourist destination that would rival any caves in Australia to my mind - and the underground springs feeding the pool there brrrrrr!! I just love everything about Australia though - the beaches, the gum trees, the rolling hills, the desert! I'll stop now LOL!

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  49. Hi, Mel! No worries about posting early - I was going to transfer your comment on to Helene anyway even if you didn't repost.

    Where are the Buchan Caves? I've been to the Jenolan Caves and Wellington Caves (inland NSW). We used the Wellington Caves (the ones the public weren't alowed in) to train for cave rescue in SES. Got real dusty and went into some tight places but it was a lot of fun. :-)

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  50. Hi Helene & Kylie,

    I am fortunate to live in a place that no matter which way you drive the views are spectacular so I am rather spoilt for choice and I learn more about the area each time especially when someone else does the driving( not a regular occurance).

    The diversity of our great country is amazing. I love walking along the beach( doesn't happen often as I now live inland), exploring tropical rainforests but I think there are two areas that are lovely. the first being the tranquility of Smiths Lake with the lake on oneside of the camping ground and the ocean on the other. The second would have to be the Southern Highlands in particular Robertson with the feel of England and one of the best pie shops in existance.

    I look forward to reading the books by both of you alas like you my TBR list is growing by the daybut the hours for reading are diminishing at a faster rate.

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  51. I really enjoyed this interview and can really identify with Helene's love for Australia. Border Watch looks very interesting. Would love to read it.
    My favourite place in Australia is the beach. Particularly the beaches at Esperance, Western Australia. They're gorgeous!

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  52. Hi Robyn! Smiths Lake sounds like a nice place - seaview one side, lake the other. Ohh, pie shops, isn't it funny how we also link food to these great places around Oz? There's a wood kiln pie truck near Townsville that sells the yummiest "grandma" pies - pie, mash and peas with gravy squished on top...yummm.

    Thanks for dropping by Loretta. Australia has the BEST beaches, doesn't it? The ones I saw in the UK were very rocky or pebbly or had a combination of grey gritty sand that was harsh and rough on the skin. Plus it was a little too cold to go for a swim *grin*.

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  53. I'm back! Had a hard day at work and now I get check emails!! Yeah! And Bernadette phoned and Border Watch is back from the printers! Even bigger yeah!!! Should be holding it in my hands by Tuesday.
    Kendra, we had some magical holidays on Moreton Island - just the two of us and the birds. Did have a slave cylinder die on one trip which resulted in reversing the whole length of the beach past Cowan Cowan to get to Bulwer (I think?) where the mechanic almost wet himself laughing at us... We had a very old Toyota landcruiser...

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  54. Hi Anon, thanks for dropping by - love Bron's books and Fleur's so I hope I don't disappoint!

    That first tinge of green after a downpour is amazing isn't it. A few years ago, I took a couple of journo's out to Birdsville to do a story on the drought. The colour of the country blew me away. As did the friendliness of the people!

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  55. Mel thanks for coming back! I would have included you anyway but now you get two chances! Buchan Caves sound magical. I'm a bit of sucker for underground places (even while admitting to the odd moment of claustrophobia...)

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  56. Robyn, paradise has a pie shop?? My hubbie will be loading that one into the GPS - being a POM means pies are his specialty... Haven't been to Robertson or indeed the Southern Highlands.

    Smiths Lake sounds perfect - water, water everywhere. I'd be right at home crawling out my tent and having decided whether I was going for a surf or a swim! After a wake up coffee of course.

    And what is it that causes the universe to go into overdrive the moment you get a pile of books ready to read? I had to take two back to the library the other day, unread! Almost broke my heart...

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  57. Loretta, I'm ashamed to admit I've never been to WA.. hanging head in contrition. My hubbie spent a year there before we met and he loved it! It is most definitely on the must do list. Esperance always gets a a special mention, along with Margaret River. One day!

    And Kylie, where's this wood kiln pie shop near Townsville? We'll have to go for a drive and track it down.

    As for the UK beaches - they have their own beauty particularly Nth Wales and Cornwall, but nothing will ever beat an Australian beach! Love 'em!!

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  58. Helene, congrats on good news from Hachette! I gather you'll be stalking the postman or mailbox on Tuesday? Heh, heh!

    The pie kiln was on the back of a ute - the bloke had it custom made for his vehicle. He liked the idea of being portable and parking on the side of a busy road to attract passing traffic.

    Admittedly I'm going back 15 years but that's how vivid the memory was of this food experience. I don't know if he's still around but it'd be sad to hear he's closed shop.

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  59. Ha, the world of blogging...dare I go there or will I get hooked and do nothing else? Our itme at Varuna seems so long ago and yet only yesterday that you did the reveal on the cover. I feel privileged to have been able to share my writing with you. How exciting that the launch is so close for you and no doubt you will be sending a case full to Wordstorm in Darwin to sell while you are there. May doesnt seem so far away any more. See you then. (without my pink outfit)Oh and have you kept contact with David?

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  60. Toni, my friend, welcome to the world of blogging!! Can't wait to welcome you to my blog next week!

    Looking forward to Wordstorm in May (and seeing Darwin, and catching up with you, and going fishing!). It will be fabulous!!

    No, I haven't heard from David...

    And where's you favourite place in Oz?

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  61. My favourite place in OZ is where I live. Katherine is surrounded by 4 National Parks, is home to the magnificent Katherine Gorge, an amazing indigenous culture, a zillion flying foxes, frangipani trees, hibiscus, hot weather, cold weather, tropical storms, amazing sunsets, wide open spaces, not too many people, my great big wild family, my friends and my country. xx

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  62. Hi Helene and Kylie,

    Great interview, it's good knowing a little about the person behind the book. I can't wait to read Border Watch, I love the cover, it should do well and I agree with Fleur, the cover is certainly a big inducement in by buying decision.

    I think Australian beaches are the best in the world and the south coast of W.A. is right up there with the rest of them. My personal favourite is Little Beach just east of Albany.

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  63. Love it, Toni!!

    Welcome Nicole, Albany sounds like a fascinating region. I didn't realise (and I should have) that there are great beaches along the coast as well! I can see I need to do some serious exploring in WA!

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  64. Hey Kylie, congrats on being a finalist in Chasing Your Dream!! Fantastic news. And I loved the excerpt. 2010 has got off to a blinder!

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  65. Kylie,
    Sorry it took me so long to get back (you know how bad I am with technology). To answer your question, the Tangalooma wrecks just off Moreton Island are a group of 15 (don't quote me on that) boats/ships which were sunk on purpose to form a wee break or reef. They're abundant with sea-life and are quite close to shore - and are good for snorkling, or diving or just swimming around and having fun.

    Kendra

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  66. Hi Kylie and Helene,
    All these wonderful places to visit in OZ are giving me itchy feet- Again!
    Thanks for talking about your book, Helene,and I adore Cairns, too.
    Although, my favourite place in Oz for purely quixotic interest sake is Birdsville. The central meeting place of the wild, weird and wacky. Where East joins West, and North joins South. It's the sort of town where anything goes, and people from all walks of life arrive to have a yarn under a shady tree. The girls pouring beers behind the bar are European backpackers, the utes in the dusty streets are owned by remote stations and driven by guys who've come from two hours away for that cold beer and to stare at the gorgeous girls. During the races, the airstrip is crowded with every sort of plane and helicopter. Your sort of place, Helene. The museum has the first, second and third ever made of so many of our iconic aussie inventions, eg fridges, washing machines etc that you can immerse yourself in history for a morning a go away with a grin on your face. The town boasts red sand hills so high that you can't climb them in four wheel drives, and the most desolate and lonely looking cemetery ever seen outside a horror movie.
    Something for everyone!
    Cheers,
    Suzi

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  67. Hi Kylie and Helene,
    Excellent interview and my best wishes to both of you.

    Just to add my two cents to the 66 comments (so far): Byron Bay. I don't care if people say it's become too touristy. I love it.

    Nice people, chilled, funky, hippy, heaven on a stick, breakfast on the beach, dinner at the pub opposite the beach, listening to a guy play the didgeridoo on the beach as the sun sets, endless beaches, gentle surf, the lighthouse.

    Oh, and then there's Uluru. I went there for the first time ever last year and it blew my mind.

    Bye for now.

    Shayne

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  68. Morning (yes, checked clock. Still is. Just :-)) Kylie and Helen,
    Loved the interview. Just lost myself in visions and dreams.
    I now live not far from the Grampians. Just down the road. A dream come true. Ever-changing, embedded with spirits and cultural heritage, they inspire and comfort me - despite the constant threat of bushfires at this time of year.
    I find I have to dig deep to find courage when the days are hot and dry. but then at other times, it's a beautiful, and spectacular area.
    Why not come visit? I'm proud of it, of its Australia-ness. :-)

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  69. Kendra, those man-made reefs sound fascinating. I reckon they'd be hard to distinguish from the real thing by now with the speed with which coral and plants grow in the warm ocean waters.

    Toni, Katherine and her surrounds sound gorgeous! I love visiting National Parks.

    Suzi, your description of Birdsville is intriguing, especially the sound of the cemetery (any chance you write for Lonely Planet or are a reporter for Globe Trekker??? lol). I always like to check out the headstones and graves, lots of interesting snippets of history and the variety of names are great, too.

    Shayne, thanks for coming by. Byron Bay does have nice beaches and the markets are a hoot, too. You find so many different stalls at the coastal market as compared to our inland ones here.

    Well, beaches in general seem to be a popular holiday destination, Helene, but I think we've got something to please everyone in this list of comments.

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  70. HI Helene! Fellow contest junkie and EDA finalist!

    Apologies that I'm so late to this shindig! I did try to post something the other night but my keyboard ate it! Anyway, I'm finally back to say how much I'm looking forward to seeing your book on the shelf! Gorgeous cover! No wonder you love it!

    Places to visit -- I love Broome! The place, the colours, the scenery! Just fabulous!

    :)

    Sharon

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  71. PS Great interview, Kylie and Helene!
    :)
    Sharon

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  72. Rosalie, your setting (a hop, skip and jump from the Grampians) sounds an idyllic place to live, despite the bushfire risk. Thanks for calling in!

    Hey, Sharon, great to see you made it! Bugger about the keyboard eating your post - that happens when you least want it to, eh? I was writing a long reply a few comments ago and somehow managed to lose it between signing in and posting. Sigh. Had to start again (15mins down the gurgler).
    I bet you saw some spectacular places on your motorbike trip around Oz! So, Broome stood out for you. Hope you took lots of pictures!

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  73. Hmm, glad I'm not the only one losing posts on occasion... Normally when I've been witty as well...

    Kendra, those wrecks are fantastic at Tangalooma. I think they may have sunk another ship out that way more recently? I could be confused of course...

    Suzi, Birdsville is amazing! Flying over that country was always something special. Missed the Birdsville racese unfortunately and I still have to take GW back with me for a visit.

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  74. Byron Bay will always have a special place in my heart, Shayne. When we first when there, much like Noosa, there were camp grounds, vegie take-aways and not much else. It's the scene of my first hang over - and that was not pretty...

    I haven't been there for years and will have to make the time to go and visit the wonderful lighthouse again! Thanks for reminding me.

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  75. I'm back again! Been a haphazard kind of day. It's our 22nd wedding anniversary so I'm sneaking off to the computer when GW is distracted...

    Rosalie, living in the tropical north it's so easy to forget how hot, dry and unforgiving the climate can be in the southern half of Australia. The Grampians sound beautiful - a landscape that comforts is very special. Another destination for my wish list.

    And Shayne, I just saw your reference to Uluru. It's presence is immense. When we flew in we were in light aircraft (a convoy of 3) and you could see it brooding from many miles away. We were fortunate to have rain when we were there. Uluru's many faces shimmered with waterfalls and its rich reds changed dramatically to silvers and bronze. Amazing.

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  76. Sharon, welcome. Those contests were fun! Glad you like the cover - I think it's captured Northern Australian perfectly. (Of course I may be a tad biased...)

    You must have seen so many spectacular places on your road trip round OZ on a motorbike. Broome is definitely on my visiting list. I read a book (name I can't remember) about the WW2 air raids on Broome harbour that wiped out a huge fleet of flying boats. A shipment of diamonds went missing in the middle of it and the story of its recovery made a fascinating tale.

    I want to sail into the Broome harbour and watch the sunset!

    Oops, GW's out of the shower and we're off for dinner at a cute restaurant round the corner.

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  77. Enjoyed the interview!
    So many places in Australia are great. Revisited Sydney recently after more than 20 years, and discovered interesting out-of-the-way spots. But my favourite place in Oz is Cooktown. Wonderful laid-back town, with friendly people, superb seafood, gorgeous views and fascinatingl history.

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  78. Hi Bronwyn, Cooktown is just up the road (so to speak) and it's now a sealed road, which makes it so much more accessible. Love the old cemetery and the botanical gardens. As you say the history is fascinating.

    Up until very recently one of our senior captains was Lyle Cooke. He's done a lot of flying in NQ and knows the history well.
    People loved hearing PA's from Captain Cook especially when he talked about Cooktown. I'm sure they thought he was pulling their leg about his name...

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  79. COMMENTS ARE NOW CLOSED.

    Thank you to everyone for dropping in and making my first guest author visit such a success.

    Helene is now faced with the difficult task of finding her top Aussie destination based on your descriptions and recommendations. Not easy!

    The lucky commenter will be posted on my blog by Tuesday, 9th February, so check on back to see if you're the winner of her debut book, BORDER WATCH.

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