SYNOPSIS of Collision by PJ Byer for Ampersand
After a violent attack while running away from home, STELLA lands battered and bruised in a coastal village, her escape from home spurred by a bitter fight with her secretive father PAUL, and KERRY, her stepmother. Dismissive of neighbourhood boys DARCY and HOWIE, and her best friend JESSIE who deserted her, she hides out in a squat, changes her appearance and assumes the name MARY-ANNE.
The village is overlooked by the ruins of Trial Bay gaol which becomes a focus for her vivid, disturbing dreams. These tell the World War One story of GUSTAV, a German prisoner of war, and his secret love affair with GRACE which culminates in her pregnancy.
Gradually, Stella meets locals like elderly DORIS, and friendship with Darcy develops into love. Changes in her life go deeper as she wrestles with her identity. She hates lying to Darcy and confides her flashbacks reveal her unsettling resemblance to Gustav. Further, the dreams only occur when she wears a ring inherited from her deceased mother, SONIA.
Realisation dawns that she and Paul share the blame for their ongoing conflict, and that her treatment of Kerry and Jessie is unfair. After Darcy rescues her from Howie’s vicious attack, Stella takes refuge with Doris near the gaol, where a photograph of Gustav confirms his existence.
Stella reunites with Paul and Kerry at hospital where Doris has collapsed, and discovers Doris is family. As Stella and Paul become closer, he discloses his complex relationship with his mother, MARY. When Doris awakes she has startling revelations for the family gathered at her bedside, which explain some of the mysterious events affecting Stella. Doris’s revelation is the catalyst for reconciliation across four generations.
Stella realises she has run away home.
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Bio Present Tense
What happens when PJ finds her old journal, and in it is jotted the bones of a story?
What happens when that story has been rattling around in her head for fourteen years?
What happens when she’s newly retired and has time to pursue this dream?
She starts, of course!
In the journal the story outline is set at Trial Bay gaol near South West Rocks, a beautiful place where PJ’s family has holidayed for years. She is inspired by the history of the Germans interned at the forbidding gaol during the First World War.
PJ grew up in Sydney’s Northern beaches, married Ivor, and they have raised two wonderful daughters, Zoe and Hannah, on the Central Coast, New South Wales. She has had a long career as an English, History and Drama teacher, and is passionate about youth literacy and encouraging young people to read. This book is in the Young Adult category, and is part of the Trial Bay series. A prequel and sequel are to follow.
She has a diverse range of interests, including reading, bushwalking, a cappella harmony singing, film, theatre, swimming as well as volunteer work for a disaster relief charity called ShelterBox.