Bundaberg made the national headlines recently, but for all the wrong reasons. Police seized 300kg of cocaine from a boat that had arrived at the Bundaberg Port as a finisher in the annual Port 2 Port rally and arrested four Spanish nationals.
Customs Officers check every boat that comes into the Port, but in this case they probably would have only given a cursory inspection as the Australian Federal Police had been tracking the drug syndicate for some time and were waiting to catch the Australian-based members with their hands on the drugs.
But don’t think that that means that the drugs would have been easy to find. When I was writing Deadly Tide, I spoke with a lot of the women involved in the trawling industry and they were aware that rumours abounded about trawlers that were involved in drug smuggling, and one even said how she and her husband bought a second trawler and discovered many secret compartments when they began refurbishing. This was wonderful background information for me, even though my villains weren’t smuggling drugs.
Truth can often be stranger than fiction, but it’s how a writer presents it to the reader that gives it authenticity. The scene where Chayse falls overboard when trying to free a rock caught in the nets during rough weather actually happened, but to a local trawler operator. His wife told me how terrified she was, watching his yellow raincoated-figure disappear under the water as she tried frantically to turn the boat to go back to get him. Fishers trawl at night, so the chances of finding him again were slim, but luckily he was able to discard his raincoat and boots and float to the surface.
I love talking to people when researching for my books. Sometimes they reveal fantastic stories that are like manna from heaven for a writer, and I’m very very grateful to them for sharing. So if a writer asks if they can interview you for research purposes, don’t worry that they will find your life boring – everyone’s life has something in it that will be interesting to someone else.