Among them is Emma, an Australian faced with an impossible decision that could see her parents jailed.
Jack, a teenager obsessed with Jack Kerouac, guided by a skewed moral compass. Carmen, a tango dancer whose estranged father is dying of cancer.
Pedro, the cabin manager who’s in hiding from those he loves most. And Wolfe, an American on a deadly family quest.
With food supplies dwindling, these unlikely companions are forced to extremes and discover they are bound by more than their surroundings – each has a secret that links them to Argentina’s Dirty War.
Nothing helps bring a novel alive more than talking openly and candidly to the author … from compiling and research to character development and title selection, we got it all from Shady Cosgrove on Wednesday night at our An Audience with … program.
Our audience of approximately 20 were intrigued by Shady’s piecing together of the characters trapped in a refugio of the Andes. We discovered that she and her family had spent many weeks in Argentina traveling, meeting a variety of people who would help mold her cast of refugio dwellers. But the origin of What the Ground can’t Hold goes back many years, we discovered, to a time of apology from our then Prime Minister Mr Rudd. What she really wanted, we were told, “… was to create a story about what it is to apologize.” Something all her characters needed to do at some level. The challenge to express this in a novel drove her to distraction at times, she states, especially with the character of Emma, whose development was a struggle, constantly shifting and changing as the story played out.
Rewrites and more rewrites eventually concluded in a well thought out, emotional story of what guilt and the need for redemption can do to a soul. Only half of our audience had read What the Ground can’t Hold, but a discussion on the book’s ending had most of us rethinking what we thought we had read in those last pages. The struggle between Pedro and Wolfe was always going to find ground, but would the ground hold? Our views were varied here … depending on whose camp we found ourselves in. So clearly, like all good novels, there is more than one way to close this book!
There is no getting around the fact that this is an intriguing read, made more so by the insider discussion awarded us by Shady. Our sincere thanks for sharing your thoughts and ideas with our group, Shady. Your candid discussion and open enthusiasm was a delight and we all look forward to your next novel!