Aidan Phelan - author

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The Widow

What’s left when you’ve lost everything?

Ellen is a widow working a dying selection on her own and becoming more desperate day by day. Even the most respectable person can fall from grace when pushed and Ellen does so in spectacular fashion. The day three desperate men arrive on her farm seeking shelter, Ellen’s life changes forever and soon she finds herself wanted by police and hunted like a fox through the Australian bush. The Widow is an examination of the false romance of outlawry and the depths we can fall to when forced into desperation.

  • Year of publication: TBC
  • ISBN: N/A
  • Genre: Fiction

The Widow is set in 1869, a time when the Australian gold rush had reached its apex and the resources were beginning to grow scarcer. Towns that had thrived on mining were becoming deserted and the land war between squatters and selectors was becoming increasingly heated. Life was unforgiving outside of the cities. Things were desperate, unfair and downright cruel at times and it is this troubled existence that leads our protagonist, Ellen McReady, into a life outside of the law.

“As the writer/historian behind A Guide to Australian Bushranging I have frequently been asked about why there weren’t more female bushrangers,” says the author, “In trying to find a way to explain this it led me to meditate on just what it would take for a woman to become a bushranger in the Victorian era.”

By the time the story is set, bushranging was almost snuffed out in the colonies of New South Wales and Victoria. In fact, in 1869 there were only two bushrangers of note that were still at large, those being Captain Thunderbolt and Harry Power, both of whom would be out of commission within a year. With the colonial police forces growing increasingly regimented and receiving better training and equipment it had never been harder for bushrangers to operate, but there were always spot fires. It is in this climate we see Ellen and the bushrangers she falls in with spark a relentless response from law enforcement that pushes them to seek refuge over the border.

“During this era, Australia was made up of self-governing colonies so it was much harder to get nabbed if you were a crook and you secretly crossed a border. For many bushrangers this seemed like the perfect escape, but the police didn’t always follow the rules around extradition. Naturally this puts out protagonist in ever greater peril,” says Phelan.

Drawing heavily from elements of actual historical stories, The Widow is an authentic portrayal of a time many consider to be Australia’s “Wild West” era. It is full of romance, tragedy and thrilling escapades, with charming characters and nods to some of Australian history’s most intriguing tales.

The Widow does not yet have a release date as it is still in development, but you can find updates here on the website as news comes to hand.

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