No matter what Louise Owen does her memories are always there, a stark reminder of what could have been and the mistakes she has made. Her only success has been her academic achievement, but now even her hopes for the future are threatened by the lingering effects of the past. It doesn’t make it any easier when she meets Cody Thomas, the brilliant university student with the gorgeous girlfriend and the golden life. Louise knows Cody could never be interested in someone like her, with her outspoken views, her vulnerabilities and her flaws. He deserves far better, and there seems no point in starting something that would have to end – but keeping Cody at a safe distance only reminds her of everything she can never have.
“Shut the gate, would you?” he called casually as he walked on ahead.
Louise froze, her heart pounding. Her fingers tightened around the lichen covered gatepost, the distinctive scent of the wet timber in the rain suddenly overwhelming her. She tried unsuccessfully to take a deep breath, instead felt the tightness spread across her chest, the familiar spiraling sense of anxiety. “I –”
He stopped, looked around and frowned as he saw her still standing by the open gate, seemingly reluctant to walk through the muddy area around the entrance to the paddock. “Come on.”
“I can’t,” she said nervously.
He laughed. “It’s not that muddy, Louise. Get over yourself. A bit of mud never hurt anyone.”
Shame filled her; the sheen of rainwater on her face mingled with her tears. Impatiently she forced her mind to move her hand to her face to brush away her tears. The rain lashed her, soaking through her jacket at the cuffs and neck, trickling into her mouth when she breathed. She sensed he was moving closer, back to her. His long strides took only seconds to reach the gate again.
“A real townie, aren’t you?” he commented. “It’s not rocket science. Just a gate on a Geology field trip.” He shepherded her through the gate, oblivious to her demeanour. “And you pick up the hook on the chain like this-” he moved the chain with an exaggerated flourish “- and then put it through the catch like this.”
She battled to bring her thoughts under control at his unthinking words, words that only compounded the way she felt. She marched on ahead, almost stumbled as she misjudged the depth of an area of mud; her boot caught and she wrenched it free, hyperventilating as she tried to right herself.
I can’t even walk through a gate now… it’s getting worse, not better like I thought it would. A cow watched her from across the paddock; her gaze fixed on it as she automatically recognised the breed and assessed its condition. Aren’t you a clever girl. The praise from long ago seared through her mind, taunting her. The knowledge of her exceptional academic success at university faded away as her mind took her unwillingly back into the past. Her mouth went dry suddenly; she tried to swallow. They’re just thoughts, she told herself firmly. I don’t need to think about that. Not now, when I’m supposed to be focusing on this fieldtrip.
“Are you going to tell me what that little performance was all about?” He had caught up to her easily, looked at her, a hint of impatience in his tone.
Louise Owen is the black sheep of Eade – her reputation precedes her after years of drinking, drifting and spitefulness. Now things are different, but in a small town like Eade it’s not as simple as deciding to change when the community won’t let her forget. The events of the past have left their mark, and building a future for herself seems like one step forward, two steps back. That’s until she meets Cody Thomas. Then the future she wants seems impossible.
It should be a crime for one guy to have so much – the good looks, the gorgeous girl, the intelligence, the wide circle of friends. That’s how it looks from the outside, anyway, something Cody Thomas has always made sure of. The advantage of being so intelligent is that it’s often easy for Cody to stay one step ahead of everyone else. Then he meets Louise Owen. And nothing seems easy anymore.
A Remembered Land is a contemporary New Zealand romance novel and sequel to A Forgotten Sky, although the two books can be read as stand alone titles.
A Remembered Land begins in Inangahua on the West Coast of New Zealand when Louise joins an university geology field trip, before travelling back to the fictional town of Eade, in the Maniototo District. A Remembered Land also has scenes set in the University of Otago and the wider Dunedin area.
Because I wanted to write a book that focused on the land there are scenes on a fictional beef farm and also references to New Zealand’s geology and geological landmarks, including the West Coast coal mining industry, the Denniston Plateau mining controversy (West Coast), Punakaiki Rocks (West Coast) and the Moeraki Boulders (Otago Coast).
The weather also plays an important role in A Remembered Land, especially rain! It first makes an appearance in the opening scene – but then I happened to be in Dunedin during the June 2015 flood – so that was an excuse to include more rain and weather extremes in my novel.
Because Eade is fictional, of course it has no real location, but I have tried to use influences from the Maniototo area, including the stark landscapes, the extreme temperatures and the vastness of the sky. And the Pigroot, otherwise known as State Highway 85.
As well as setting A Remembered Land in some of New Zealand’s most evocative places I have enjoyed incorporating some Kiwiana into the story including elements of our natural and geological history.