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  • Patricia Bernard

Writing The Backpacker Princess

I love ‘revenge’. All my murder mysteries include revenge, as does my unfinished epic ‘The Devil’s Bargain.’ Revenge is in my Irish blood or it might be that my mother taught me to put ‘Bad Wishes’ on people. I can put Good Wishes’ on too but I don’t do either very often as there is a price. Read ’The 13 Curses’ to be included in the second anthology, Murder, Mystery and Magic.


Broome is my favourite tropical town to go to in winter. Once, when I was doing Author Visits in Western Australia I decided to drive from Darwin to Broome. On the way I picked up a speeding fine given to me by the shortest policeman in creation. I was speeding along with no one on the road, no one on each side of the road, pretty much no one on the planet, when, way up on top of grassy hill there was this tiny policeman spying on me with a telescope. On seeing me, he took off down the hill arriving at the same time as my car. He bravely stood in front of me and waved me down. Fortunately the car had good brakes.

‘I’m giving you a $350 speeding fine,’ he informed me.

I used ‘that’ word along with the word ‘goblin’.

‘Don’t you swear at me.’ he snapped. ’I’m a good man and I’ve been watching you through my telescope’.

I couldn’t believe it. I’d just been fined in the middle of nowhere by a tiny policeman waving a telescope. I got the fine in the mail and he features in one of my murder novels. Enough said if I say ‘the car didn’t stop'.


I spent four days in Broome then started to drive back to Darwin. On the way I gave a young Aboriginal girl a lift. She was full of excitement and bubbles, smiling and laughing and telling me how she was going to become as famous as Whitney Huston and how Darwin was just the beginning and that soon she’d be in Sydney and performing on TV. She was about seventeen.

She was good company so I bought her dinner and a Youth Hostel bed. Next morning she was gone.

‘She got lift, missus’ said a small Aboriginal boy playing with a coat-hanger and a wheel,

Two hundred kilometres out of Darwin I saw her again. I stopped and she almost threw herself into my car. ‘Why didn’t you wait for me,’ I asked. She uttered something then began to cry and out it all came. She’d wanted to leave earlier than me, so she’d taken a lift with a man who frightened the daylights out of her by driving off the highway and grabbing her.

I’m going to get my uncles to point the bone at him,’ she told me. ‘I’m going to get them to make him die.’

That is where the story came from.

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