I had almost finished typing up the letters.
The next one dated 3 May 1949 dropped a bombshell. The gruesome murder of a couple – I knew their names. My father had mentioned them in his earlier letters. Why had this Australian husband and wife been stabbed to death? I didn’t know them but my father had a connection to them. I don’t know why, but I felt sad. Was I the only one who thought about them after 65 years?
I flipped through the remaining letters – there were only 3. The murderer was at large and three detectives from Brisbane arrived. The next letter speculated about the murderer. “By the way, you seemed to think that natives were the cause of this strife – well they’re not. They would never come at anything in that nature and so far as I’m concerned the Chinese aren’t a patch on them so far as work and manners is concerned.” Did he believe someone from the Chinese community was the culprit?
The final correspondence ended by saying that a person had been arrested.Then nothing more.
Imagine my frustration. I had lots of questions and my father was no longer here to ask him. Then, when I thought about it, I realised he probably didn’t know much anyway.
I had typed up 65 pages and 23000 words – a story had unfolded. All I had to do was work out how to tease these events into a coherent story. That’s when I started writing my novel and my obsession.