Dave Taylor is an Aussie tour guide specialising in trips through the Queensland Outback. In some ways, however, Dave himself feels lost. He has been alone this past year, since his childhood sweetheart Denise left him and married another man.
Dave and Nicholas, married for seven years now, are happily settled together – but as an Australian prime minister once observed, “Life wasn’t meant to be easy.” An unexpected threat to their beloved waterhole forces Dave to try asserting unofficial custodianship of the Dreamtime site, and a visit from Nicholas’s nephew Robin doesn’t help as he brings his own surprises. And there’s always the question of Nicholas’s health hanging over their heads…
RJ's reviews of Books 1 & 2
The next morning saw Dave and Nicholas at the airport early to collect Robin. They joined the line-up leaning on the waist-high barriers, greeted with nods and friendly monosyllables from the drivers and tour operators and such, some of whom had known Dave since he was a kid. “Brought the missus with you, then?” one of them commented to Dave.
Nicholas snorted with quiet humour, but Dave answered seriously enough. “Yeah, his nephew’s coming to visit for his summer holidays. Well, you know … it’s winter here, summer up there.”
“Got everything arse-about, them Poms.”
“You just wait,” Nicholas muttered darkly. “The magnetic poles will reverse, and then where will you be?”
“Still in God’s own country, mate!”
“So you will,” Nicholas happily responded. “And so will I!”
There was a general round of laughter, and then everyone fell back to their earlier silence or desultory talk. Nicholas nudged Dave with an elbow, and indicated the cold hard floor on the other side of the barriers. “That’s where I was when I saw you for the very first time.”
The guy on the other side of Dave asked, “Love at first sight, was it?”
“I get a lot of that,” Dave remarked.
“What can you do?” was the sympathetic response.
“I fancied him so badly!” Nicholas declared. “It wasn’t love, I don’t suppose – not back then. But that’s where it began. That’s where our story began.”
A resounding silence greeted this. Far too much information to be sharing with Aussie blokes of either gender. Dave was blushing, a little, but he couldn’t deny that he was pleased. No doubt his own smile was as fond as one of Nicholas’s, despite him trying to repress it. He hardly knew where to look.
But finally someone snorted, and someone else spluttered into laughter, and the embarrassment was lost in the general hubbub, or maybe just transformed into something else, something better. “Someone’s overdone it with the coffee this morning,” was one comment. – “That’s why I never bring my missus along,” another observed. – “Jeez, there’s a decent hour and a private place for that kind of thing …”
Dave and Nicholas leant there on the barrier together, pressed shoulder to shoulder, letting the jibes wash over them. And eventually Dave dared to glance at his husband, and he saw Nicholas’s lips curling in infinite amusement … and Dave could hardly even begin to measure his own happiness. He hadn’t seen the edges of it for years.
My books definitely don’t belong in the paranormal genre – however I find that many of them contain an element of something beyond the everyday. Similarly, I suppose, my books aren’t comedies, but I like to think they all contain bits that prompt readers to laugh or at least smile. (I am a sincere sort, but I don’t think I could write something entirely serious to save myself.)
On the paranormal side of things, A Threefold Cord includes a phenomenon that Grae interprets as a ghost, and The Fine Point of His Soul includes a villain who may be the Devil incarnate – or perhaps he’s Dionysius? In the Butterfly Hunter books, of course, the Australian Dreamtime has a very real presence in the contemporary world of Dave Taylor.
I have to confess that I am an atheist and a sceptic. I don’t believe in God or the Devil, Apollo or Dionysius, and I don’t believe in ghosts (although I might add that ghosts make ‘sense’ within my worldview, but I guess I’ll save that for a separate blog post). I don’t have a literal belief in the Dreaming, either, though I respect it greatly – as I respect those for whom the Dreaming is a reality.
In this regard, at least, I wrote the character of Dave with my own beliefs and attitudes. Dave has led a fairly ordinary life thus far, loving the Australian Outback and his (former) girlfriend Denise and his Toyota Land Cruiser, and not looking much further beyond such concerns. In the first of the Butterfly Hunter books, his new client Nicholas Goring challenges Dave to recognise that his emotions and his sexuality are capable of more; his identity needn’t remain limited to the ‘one-woman man’ who lost his only chance for happiness.
To Dave’s surprise, his spiritual side is challenged as well, when he discovers that he has some kind of personal connection with a Dreaming site. His friend Charlie pushes that one step further and insists on passing on to Dave the custodianship of the site. Dave might never bring himself to place his full faith in the Dreamtime, but he is presented with a situation which he can’t wholly explain in rational ways, and he can at least see the good in helping Charlie to maintain the cultural aspects of the Dreaming which might otherwise be lost.
I think that if you read any of the above books, you will find (more or less) that in the fictional world I write, ‘there are more things in Heaven and Earth’. The question becomes how a pragmatic person such as myself (or Grae or Keats or Dave) deals with that.
Dave encountered a possible English-style paranormal situation in the second book, Of Dreams and Ceremonies, and it didn’t mean anything to him beyond the ‘everyday’ adventure of treasure troves. In this third Butterfly Hunter book, titled The Thousand Smiles of Nicholas Goring, Dave is back home in Australia, and he is challenged to finally define what the Dreaming site means to him, and what he can best do to protect it.
I hope you will join me in this third and final adventure for Dave and Nicholas, and I trust you’ll feel that I’ve seen their story out in the style they deserve. I love them dearly, and it’s a real wrench to let them go!