Why I wrote about ‘Deserter Burman’ by Greg Pyers

“When I was ten, I read The Three Lost Children, a short book written by my grandfather. I remember how it impressed me that I knew someone who wrote a book, more that the story was compelling and true, and still more, that it happened in my own neighbourhood. My grandfather’s book was a factual account and the events it describes are part of Daylesford folklore; that on a bitterly cold June day in 1867 three young boys wandered into the bush never to be seen alive again.

Many, many years later, as an author in search of inspiration, I wondered what kind of novel the story of the lost children might make. And so I began my research. In short time, the father of the middle boy presented as an intriguing central character. Benjamin Burman was of the convict era, a deserter from the British Army who was tattooed to mark his crime, imprisoned on a hulk and transported to Van Diemen’s Land.

Of great fascination to me was that he was assigned in Hobart Town to the surveyor general, who hosted Charles Darwin on his visit there in 1836. So, far from being a story about the lost children, my novel would be a story of Benjamin Burman, told in two parts. I would juxtapose his convict years, when he dreams of freedom and of having a family, with the time when he has these things, yet endures the greatest tragedy of his life.”

Greg Pyers, author of upcoming historical fiction, “The Narrative of Deserter Burman” , launching this August 2015. Stay tuned for more details.

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