Thursday, 26 May 2022

Celebrate Lit: The Piano

By Joanne Markey

labor of love cover

Why would I mention a piano being in a tree in Persuade Me? Well, there’s a story behind that piano.

It all started sometime on the night of December 28, 1916. That was the night when, after a great deal of rain, the floodwaters from Sandy Creek and Wolfang Creek converged, and a wall of water rushed through the town of Clermont, in Queensland, Australia. And when you consider that small country town, you can’t help but think of the one event that had the greatest impact.

I say “the greatest impact” because, not only did that flood cause great loss of life and property, but it also led the townsfolk to move the remaining buildings to where the town now stands.

They accomplished this feat with the use of a steam traction engine. With the buildings on rails, and, I dare say, a great deal of hard work behind the scenes, they used that tractor to pull the town up the hill. One intrepid gentleman took the time to document this move, so we have photographic proof of what those men and women did over 100 years ago.

That same photographer also documented another piece of the aftermath of the flood: a piano that had been swept away by the floodwaters and became lodged high in the branches of a tree.

Today, when you approach Clermont from the north, one of the first things you see is a coolish tree with a piano lodged in its branches. This piano is only a replica, standing out there on that floodplain, a reminder of what the town went through all those years ago.

I knew from the very start that I wanted the original piano to make an appearance in my book. However, Persuade Me is a contemporary romance and this event is incredibly historical. Somehow, I would have to mesh the two together.

What better way to do that than to allow the father of my fictional family to claim ownership? Not personal ownership, but ownership by descent. This bloke is very socially conscious. Things like how many generations of his family have been in Australia, and whether those generations included convicts or not are very important to him.

In fact, he is very important to himself. In his own estimation, his self-worth is through the roof. Anything important that happened around town had to happen to someone related to himself.

His claims are erroneous, of course. I don’t know if ownership was ever determined. Nor do I know whether anything is known about what happened after the piano was discovered.

Did the townsfolk leave it there? Did it eventually fall down? Did anyone ever know who it originally belonged to?

Unfortunately, while I can’t answer those questions, I do know it did not belong to Walter Elliot! It was fun to connect those dots though, and bring a little history into a fictional world.


Originally from Australia, Joanne Markey now lives in Ohio with her husband and seven children. When she’s not reading or writing, you might find her wandering the property with her kids in search of whatever seasonal treasure they’re trying to find.

 

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