The smallest of all the Australian native mouse species is the Delicate Mouse. They eat grain from native grasses and, unlike house mice, are not a problem you’ll find in your pantry. And when I say these mice are small, I mean it. The largest would be 7.5cm in total length. And they are seriously cute. Their back legs have a rabbit shape, and they hop instead of run.
We live across from large paddocks of native grasses, and currently they provide a home for six small kangaroos, quite a few varieties of snakes, and a lot of other creatures. After rain we see egrets, ibises, cranes and wild ducks feasting on the grubs, worms and whatever else they can find. The paddocks are also home to Delicate Mice. I know this because our older cat, Zara, occasionally decides to bring one home as a gift for me. Which she did tonight. The poor little thing was terrified. I would be too if I’d been carted around in a cat’s mouth. It was smaller than my thumb, and I was trying to hold it gently so as not to harm it when it jumped from my hand and ran between the glass sliding door and the security screen door and didn’t know how to get out. After much manoeuvring, Rob and I finally freed it, but I was so worried for this tiny little creature.
So when I sat at the computer later tonight it struck me that in my job as a writer I get to kill some characters and put others through terrible trauma (and don’t tell me falling in love isn’t traumatic for some people <vbg>) and yet I get overly concerned for the welfare of one tiny little mouse. I also cry when I see kids in pain on television and when I watch sad movies, and am a sucker for donating to worthy causes when I read those brochures saying how it’s possible to save a life or rescue a dog etc. So sometimes I’ve wonder why I write what I do. But I reckon it’s because, as a writer, I get to give my characters justice.
Justice can sometimes be an elusive thing, and sometimes there is a fine line between seeking justice and seeking revenge. It was a line that Ruth Bellamy crossed in Fatal Flaw. It was difficult though, not to feel sympathy for Ruth. She was one of the most complex characters I’ve written, and I wondered how I would react if I had suffered what she did. I’m looking forward to getting feedback from readers about her, as I feel there will be conflicting views on whether Ruth was justified in doing what she did.