Pittwater Life February 2017 Issue


Home, Not Far Away. Walk 'N' Ride. Focus On Women's Health. What's The Buzz>

Plot thickens for Avalon


When Sydney author

Penelope Janu contemplated

the setting

for her breakthrough novel ‘In

At The Deep End’ she immediately

thought of her days

growing up at Avalon Beach in

the 1970s.

Penelope realised it would

provide countless real-life

experiences to draw from and,

with a little licence, the suburb

and surrounds form the

perfect backdrop to the story

of the relationship between a

headstrong environmentalist

and a Norwegian Navy Commander.

In a quirky writer’s device,

Penelope named her characters

– Harriet Scott and Per Amundsen

– after the first explorers

to reach the South Pole.

An active traveller, mother

of six Penelope has had a long

career in law, working in legal

academia and with refugees.

The idea for ‘In At The Deep

End’ came to her when she

was teaching a university

course on Climate Change –

but she was also encouraged

by her daughter Tasmin, an

award-winning children’s

book author.

Pittwater Life: What/who

inspired you to write your

first novel?

PJ: I said to one of my writing

friends that I wanted to write

about climate change – I was

teaching in a course on the

legal regulation of climate

change at Macquarie University

at the time. My friend

looked a little taken aback

because she likes the romance

aspects of my writing! And

that was the challenge – to

look at climate change and

global warming… and write a

romance as well.

PL: How did you come up

with the plotline?

PJ: Some people plot their

novels chapter by chapter, and

even scene by scene, before

they start writing. This is an

entirely rational and sensible

thing to do, but I don’t write

like that. My heroine and the

hero both firmly believe that

the work they do is important,

but their approaches differ.

She doesn’t mind bending

the rules to communicate her

message. He is straight down

the line. The tension between

the characters drove the plot.

PL: Why set part of the novel

in Avalon Beach?

PJ: For my plot I needed a surf

beach, a house overlooking

the beach, sand dunes and an

ocean pool. Harriet had to live

at Avalon because that’s all I

could see when I was writing!

There is creative license used

– Harriet has direct access to

the sand dunes in North Avalon,

for example, and Dougal

the golden retriever gallops

on the beach without fear

(of council rangers). But the

essence of what I’ve always

considered Avalon to be – the

magnificent environment, the

ocean pool, and the community

– is all there.

PL: What was it like growing

up in Avalon?

PJ: I lived in Avalon between

the ages of 8 and 13 in the

1970s (I went to Avalon Primary

from years 2 to 6, and Barrenjoey

High in year 7) and

then I moved to Melbourne.

I came back to Avalon in the

1980s, and commuted to university

for five years (leaving

home at 6.45am if I wanted a

lift with my father, or catching

a double decker 190).

Our group used to spend

just about every day of the

holidays at the beach. Just us.

No parental supervision! My

nose was perpetually peeling,

summer and winter (at the

time, it was just part of growing

up at the beach).

Horses were common, and

most people who rode were

involved with Peninsula Pony

Club. Our grounds were in

Hitchcock Park, where the

tennis courts are now (we

were only allowed on the adjacent

oval (where the photo is

taken) for gymkhanas – if the

ground was dry.

I kept my pony Fudge in

the back garden, and used

to swim him at Careel Bay.

I had a friend who lived at

Whale Beach and she kept

two horses on a block of land

adjacent to the beach – we

were always on the beach with

our horses!

A Ruskin Rowe resident

once yelled at me for cantering

on his perfect lawn nature

strip. As a keen gardener,

I see his point now (it had

been raining and my pony

was kicking up great clods of

grass and earth). At the time,

I could not understand his


PL: How has Avalon changed?

PJ: I worked at the old Robin’s

Nest chicken shop when I

was at uni. Every week we’d

put any leftover barbequed

chicken into rolls (from the

traditional bread shop opposite),

and they’d sell out

quicker than we could make

them – but if you wanted a



More magazines by this user
Similar magazines