Welcome to Tall Stories, a new history of the Blue Mountains, told through the lives of many of the fascinating people who have been here before us. Are the Blue Mountains really blue? Are they really mountains? And just what is the story of the Three Sisters? Discover all this and more in the first general history of a wonderful part of the world to have appeared in many years.
Michael Duffy is author of the best-selling Bella Greaves crime novels set in the Blue Mountains, the first being The Problem with Murder.
Q: Why turn from crime fiction to history?
A: In the novels, newspaper editor Bella Greaves writes a regular column called Memory Lane, about local history and legends, and sometimes I describe the content when she discusses them with barman Barry at the Orphan Hotel. A surprising number of readers suggested I publish a collection of these (non-existent) columns! That got me thinking about the lack of a general history of the Blue Mountains. And that got me writing.
Q: What's with the bizarre cover?
A: I wanted to capture the sense of the place, and it had to have a lot of human-made structures, of one sort or another, because this is a history. But for me no one structure does that. Then I saw some pictures by an amazing Portuguese artist, Rui Ricardo, and I sent him some photos. I think he's captured the fact the Mountains are as much a figment of our imaginations as of reality.
Q: I was surprised by the number of famous people who've passed this way. There's Agatha Christie and Charles Darwin in the first few pages, and it just keeps growing. Even Bruce Chatwin makes an appearance.
A: The Blue Mountains are a seriously unusual region. I can't think of anywhere in the world where you have 100,000 hectares of wilderness two hours from a major city. And of course, thanks to the railway, they've been easily accessible for 150 years.
Q: Why have you approached the history as a series of vignettes, rather than a conventional history?
A: The book is for visitors as much as locals, so it had to be accessible and lively. I as thinking of readers who might come here for a few days and want to know more about what they'd seen, but who might not want to read a 500 page tome. There's a lot of excellent local history around for those who do want to dig deeper, and I acknowledge those books at the end of mine. But I suspect there aren't too many readers for that level of detail.
Like Michael's Blue Mountains crime novels, The Problem with Murder and The Strange Death of Paul Ruel, this is available only from local stores.
Anyone wishing to stock the book please contact Michael via email@example.com.